Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

US is not amused at the rise of AIIB as rival to World Bank

March 20, 2015

The US is not amused.

The list of countries signing up to the Chinese-led initiative which would rival the World Bank is growing as Japan and Australia have now indicated that they too will join. In the last week the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Luxembourg indicated that they too would sign up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in spite of dire warnings from across the Atlantic. South Korea is also expected to sign up now that the UK and Japan have.

(Reuters)Japan signaled cautious approval of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Friday and said for the first time that, if conditions were met, it could join the institution that the United States has warned against.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said there was “a lot of merit” in the bank and the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that Canberra could formally decide to sign up when the full cabinet meets on Monday.

Japan, Australia and the South Korea, all major U.S. allies, are the notable regional absentees from the AIIB. The United States, worried about China’s growing diplomatic clout, has questioned whether the AIIB will have sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.

The US  (US Treasury department and the US Congress) was not amused in October last year when “India along with 20 other countries today signed an agreement to become founding members of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to aid the infrastructure development in the Asian region and reduce the dependence on Western-dominated World Bank and IMF.”  The authorised capital of AIIB is to be USD 100 billion and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around USD 50 billion. The paid-in ratio will be 20 per cent. The AIIB is to be headquartered in Beijing and it is hoped that it will be operational by the end of 2015.

It was the US opposition to allowing any reform of voting rights at the International Monetary Fund which had irritated and annoyed China and other Asian countries which had led to the Chinese initiative. The proposed – relatively mild – reforms for the IMF were agreed at a G20 meeting in 2010 and have been ratified by all European countries. But the US has not yet ratified these changes. It has not been prepared to permit any weakening of its dominance in the World Bank and the IMF.  The founding members of the AIIB members in October 2014 were China, India, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Qatar, Oman, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia and Myanmar.

The US has followed a strategy of criticising the possible environmental and social irresponsibility of the new institution which is intended to focus on transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure. The US has also raised doubts about the transparency and governance of the proposed new institution and warning other countries not to join. But what was a relatively minor and mainly regional matter has been blown-up by the US opposition. The US strategy of “bad-mouthing” the AIIB seems to have back-fired. Some of the support now coming from countries traditionally seen as US followers can be considered a direct reaction to the bad-willed US opposition. 

From all accounts, the Obama administration has expended serious energy trying to dissuade its allies from joining ……. With the defection of the UK, however, it appears likely that Washington’s carefully constructed coalition will gradually unravel—both Australia and South Korea are apparently reconsidering their earlier reluctance to join the bank and could well use the UK’s decision as political cover for deciding to join the bank.

The European countries (and Japan and South Korea) have realised that their companies must have the chance of bidding for future AIIB infrastructure projects. For at least the next two decades – and maybe longer – there has to be a massive infrastructure investment in Asia. The US will eventually have to join the AIIB or to step aside and to let it proceed. US companies hoping to bid for Asian infrastructure projects would prefer that the US join. But now the US administration has the additional task to do some “face-saving” while it backs away from its ill-considered strategy of opposition.

 

Who killed Internet Explorer?

March 18, 2015

The headlines today are all about Microsoft killing Internet Explorer with Windows 10. The yet unnamed browser from Project Spartan will ship with Windows 10.

The Internet Explorer name is synonymous with web browsers that are provided to users on Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It has been around for a very long time but it looks like Microsoft has decided to retire that branding once and for all. The company has recently confirmed that the Internet Explorer brand will be going away, and as for the new name, it seems Microsoft has yet to determine what it might be.

But of course for Microsoft it not so much a strategic choice as a forced  – and defensive – reaction. Ultimately it the MS strategy which is responsible for the demise of IE in the marketplace. In the last 5 years IE market share has plummeted from near 70%  to just over 20%. The simple fact is that Internet Explorer has lost the browser war. The clear advantage it once had with being embedded with Windows has ultimately led to resentment against the monopoly and it is the backlash which has killed it.

I have not used IE for over 10 years even though 3 of my 5 devices use Windows. On these 3, I use Chrome while on my two Apple devices I use Safari (and occasionally Chrome).

Usage share of web browsers (Source StatCounter)

Usage share of web browsers (Source StatCounter)

Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really)

March 17, 2015

Matt Ridley has an opinion piece in the WSJ which says many things far better than I can.

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.

These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress. …….

The article is well worth reading. Fossil Fuels Will Save the World Ridley WSJ

Ground zero is that fossil fuels will eventually be replaced only when a cheaper, more reliable source of energy (electricity production) is found. There is no foreseeable “peak” for fossil fuels and availability is not a constraint. Solar and wind technologies have small, clear niches which they can well fill but practical and affordable energy storage is needed before they can be any significant source of our energy consumption. And Li-ion batteries will not cut it. As Ridley points out they provide about 1% of our energy consumption today while fossil fuels still reign supreme at about 87%. Nuclear power could make a severe dent in fossil fuel consumption, but only if the costs and the construction time due to the regulatory process can be drastically reduced – and that does not seem likely as long as alarmists and doom-sayers hold sway. (I estimate that around 30% of the capital cost of nuclear plants is unnecessary and due to CYA regulations which are driven by fear). Small, safe, pre-approved, modular, fifth-generation nuclear power plants could take-off but that requires many alarmists to give up their faith.

(As an aside, I observe that climate and energy politics have become the politics of fear, but I am an optimist and I expect the pendulum will swing to return to energy politics based on courage. It is a form of cowardice which drives energy politics today where I take cowardice to be actions subordinated to fear and courage to be fears subordinated to purposeful actions).

Perhaps fusion (probably hot rather than cold) will come – but a breakthrough is not in sight (though by definition breakthroughs are never generally in sight). We can fantasise that we will someday be able to tap into the gravitational energy of the solar system (which would be solar energy in another form). I don’t doubt that some new, cheap, energy source or energy conversion technique will appear – but until then fossil fuels will provide the basis for human development. And if we are on our way into a new ice age it is fossil fuel which will ensure our survival.

I dismiss the hypothesis – and it is still only a hypothesis – that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are of any significance for “global temperature”. In fact the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere (and man-made emissions are a tiny contributor to that) has a very small effect on “global temperature”. Instead it is “global temperature” which has a very large effect on carbon dioxide concentration through the balance of absorption and emission from the oceans and from the biosphere. Carbon dioxide concentration lags rather than leads “global temperature”. The sun and clouds and ocean currents and winds (also driven by the sun) dwarf any effects of carbon dioxide. The hypothesis looks broken considering that over the last 18 years man-made carbon dioxide emissions have increased sharply but “global temperature” has been static. Even the assumed “global warming” that is supposed to have taken place over the last 100 years are to a significant extent “manufactured” by “adjusting” temperature data and choosing weighting and averaging algorithms which are biased to show a pre-determined result. There is a shortage of “science” and far too much confirmation bias in what passes for “climate science” these days.

IKEA charges the way of things to come

March 2, 2015

It’s the IKEA desk today and it will not be long before it is everywhere in your office or in your home. IKEA is now rolling  out a line of its desks that will wirelessly charge all your devices that are capable of being wirelessly charged. It will surely not be so long till the day when your devices are automatically and wirelessly charged anywhere in your office or in your home.

IKEA Skrivbord och arbetsbord

WPC Press Release:

Global home furnishings retailer IKEA today announced a product launch of Qi-powered bedside tables, lamps and desks that eliminates cable mess and makes it easier to stay connected with always-charged mobile devices.

IKEA said the wireless charging home furnishings will be available in Europe and North America this April, followed by a global rollout. The announcement girds support for Qi – the leading global wireless charging standard from the Wireless Power Consortium.  

“IKEA is delivering on its vision of making life at home better with this innovative, stylish and useful new collection that show consumers the beauty and simplicity of wireless charging,” said Menno Treffers, WPC chairman. “We applaud IKEA for its unmatched insight and their unique passion for making wireless charging affordable and simple for consumers.”

Qi is the most widely deployed wireless power standard, available in 3,000 hotels, restaurants, airports and public locations worldwide. There are now more than 80 Qi-enabled smartphones, 15 models of Qi-enabled cars and countless Qi mobile accessories in the market today.

“Our belief is that mobile phones are vital parts to people’s lives at home and their desire to stay connected, and Qi addresses an unmet need to keep devices powered,” said Bjorn Block, Range Manager for Lighting and Wireless Charging, at IKEA. “As a member of WPC, we value the access to the leading and most advanced global standard for wireless charging.”   

During Mobile World Congress, WPC will showcase the latest Qi-enabled products at booth 5C41, Hall 5.

About the Wireless Power Consortium and Qi
Established in 2008, the Wireless Power Consortium is an open, collaborative standards development group of more than 200 company members. WPC’s members include Belkin, ConvenientPower, Delphi, Freescale, Haier, HTC, IKEA, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, PowerbyProxi, Royal Philips, Samsung, Sony, TDK, Texas Instruments, Verizon Wireless and ZTE. These companies — large and small competitors and ecosystem partners, from all parts of the industry and all parts of the globe — collaborate for a single purpose: to design and evolve the world’s most useful, safe and efficient standard for wireless power. This global standard is called Qi, and it has become the world’s leading method for transferring electrical power without wires. Qi is designed into 80+ mobile devices, 15 models of cars, has more than 700 registered products that are enjoyed by more than 50 million users worldwide. 

Things we have developed beyond – but which I still miss

November 17, 2014

They were not the “good old days” to pine for. Change and development have done more good for more people than I would have thought possible. But there are still some things which have been lost and which I miss. Collateral damage.

My top twenty (but not in any particular order):

  1. The all-purpose milk-man at the door (cheese, bread, onions, potatoes…), every day of the year except one
  2. “My” shoemaker in Chinatown who could cope with my left foot being slightly longer than my right
  3. The policeman on our beat who knew our names (and we knew his)
  4. Dingy, dark, smoke-filled, hole-in-the wall bars
  5. Taxi drivers who knew the way (without a map or a GPS)
  6. Teachers whose job satisfaction lay in that students had learnt
  7. Professors who preferred the elegant solution
  8. Hospitals run by doctors
  9. Heroes who were neither sexual predators nor paedophiles
  10. Banks with real tellers
  11. Banks with money
  12. Shops which provided bags to carry away their merchandise
  13. Airports without security checks
  14. Airlines where service was part of the service
  15. Aircraft where passenger comfort was a fundamental human right
  16. Science where theory was subordinate to data
  17. Scientists who questioned
  18. The environment which included humans
  19. Roads which were not parking lots
  20. Managers who managed

Offshore oil rigs promote a richer marine life than at coral reefs

October 24, 2014

A 15 year study of the oil platforms off the California coast shows that they promote a rich and varied fish and marine life. They are greater than at estuaries and reefs on the California coast and richer even than at the famed coral reefs of Polynesia.

Don’t expect the WWF to support offshore oil rigs anytime soon! Or to admit that the oil rigs off the Santa Barbara coast are more beneficial to marine life than the wind and solar farms in California are to avian life which they regularly chop and fry.

More fool them.

JT Claisse et al, Oil platforms off California are among the most productive marine fish habitats globally, PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1411477111

NatureWorldNews:

A recent study has determined that large oil or gas platforms off the California coast are actually serving as ideal bases for highly productive marine habitats, boasting a stunning amount of healthy aquatic life.

That’s at least according to a study recently conducted by researchers from Occidental College, the University of California, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management off the West Coast.

The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), details how fish communities that have made their homes under well-maintained oil rigs are up to 27 times more productive than California reefs.

…. This was determined after a research team annually surveyed 16 oil or gas platforms and seven rocky reefs along the Californian coast for 15 years, starting in 1995.

They paid special attention to fish population count, size, and diversity in these unique habitats. From this, they worked out the weight of fish supported each year per square meter of sea floor for each habitat. They even reportedly accounted for the chance that some fish “just passing through” could affect the data.

In a surprising show of data, the researchers determined that the productivity of rig-based communities supported 105 to a whopping 887 grams of fish per square meter of habitat. By comparison, the most productive reef they examined, a coral reef in Mo’orea, French Polynesia, had a fish productivity of 74.2 grams per square meter per year. …

….. “The platform structures support a diverse community of invertebrates that, along with floating resources such as plankton, provide the base of the food web supporting fish,” he explained.

If handled properly, Claisse and his colleagues add, man-made structures can actually be beneficial to the ocean floor.

Abstract

Secondary (i.e., heterotrophic or animal) production is a main pathway of energy flow through an ecosystem as it makes energy available to consumers, including humans. Its estimation can play a valuable role in the examination of linkages between ecosystem functions and services. We found that oil and gas platforms off the coast of California have the highest secondary fish production per unit area of seafloor of any marine habitat that has been studied, about an order of magnitude higher than fish communities from other marine ecosystems. Most previous estimates have come from estuarine environments, generally regarded as one of the most productive ecosystems globally. High rates of fish production on these platforms ultimately result from high levels of recruitment and the subsequent growth of primarily rockfish (genus Sebastes) larvae and pelagic juveniles to the substantial amount of complex hardscape habitat created by the platform structure distributed throughout the water column. The platforms have a high ratio of structural surface area to seafloor surface area, resulting in large amounts of habitat for juvenile and adult demersal fishes over a relatively small footprint of seafloor. Understanding the biological implications of these structures will inform policy related to the decommissioning of existing (e.g., oil and gas platforms) and implementation of emerging (e.g., wind, marine hydrokinetic) energy technologies.

ISRO successfully launches 3rd of the 7-satellite IRNSS

October 16, 2014

After the successful arrival of the MOM in Mars Orbit, ISRO has taken the more mundane step of putting the 3rd of 7 satellites for India’s satellite navigation system into place.

ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C26, successfully launched IRNSS-1C, the third satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), in the early morning hours of today (October 16, 2014) at 0132 hours IST from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. This is the twenty seventh consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The ‘XL’ configuration of PSLV was used for this mission. Previously, the same configuration of the vehicle was successfully used six times.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is India’s 7-satellite global positioning system. It is similar to the GPS of the US, Russia’s Glonass , Europe’s Galileo  China’s Beidou and the Japanese Quasi Zenith Satellite System. The IRNSS is autonomous and under the control of the Indian Government. In addition to providing civilian navigation services (Standard Positioning Service – SPS) in a region extending 1500 km beyond the country’s borders, the IRNSS will also provide encrypted military and strategic services (Restricted Services – RS) independent of foreign governments. The positioning accuracy is designed to be 20 m in the primary service area. Each satellite is designed for a life of 10 years.

The IRNSS program received government approval in 2006 and is planned to be fully deployed by the end of 2015. The budgeted cost is 14.2 billion INR (about $240 million) and must count as another example of ISRO’s “frugal engineering”. The cost includes for two stand-by satellites on the ground making nine included in the budget. As a comparison Europe’s Galileo navigational system comprises 27 satellites and is expected to cost about 50 times more at about €10 billion ($13 billion).

IRNSS - ISRO

IRNSS – ISRO

The 7 satellite system consists of 4 satellites as two pairs of geosynchronous satellites and 3 in geostationary orbit. The first two satellites in the series, IRNSS 1a and IRNSS 1b formed the first geosynchronous pair and were launched from Sriharikota on July 1st, 2013 and April 4th this year. respectively. The IRNSS-1c launched this morning is the first geostationary satellite and carries two payloads, one for transmitting navigation service signals to users and another consisting of a C-band transponder to facilitate Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging. It is the central satellite of the seven satellite configuration. The satellites launched so far are individually operational but the system will become operational only with the next launch of a geostationary satellite. (The system needs one geosynchronous pair, the central satellite and one more geostationary satellite to reach the threshold conditions to become operational). All seven satellites are planned to be in place and operational by the end of 2015.

IRNSS Architecture - ISRO

IRNSS Architecture – ISRO

NasaSpaceflight:

Based on ISRO’s I-1K satellite bus, each IRNSS satellite has a mass at launch of 1,425 kilograms (3,142 lb). Unfuelled, the spacecraft has a mass of only 600 kilograms (1,323 lb), with the remaining 825 kilograms (1,819 lb) being taken up by propellant for their apogee motors and manoeuvring engines.

The spacecraft are designed for ten years’ operational service. Generating 1.6 kilowatts of power through twin solar arrays, the satellites broadcast L5 and S band navigation signals. C-band transponders and retroreflectors are used for range calibration.

Each satellite is fitted with a single liquid apogee motor producing 440 newtons (99 pounds-force) of thrust. Three-axis control is provided by reaction wheels, magnetorquers and twelve reaction control thrusters.

The apogee motor is tasked with propelling the satellite from its initial deployment orbit into the final geostationary orbit, while the remaining thrusters will be used to manoeuvre and orient the spacecraft once it is in orbit.

IRNSS-1C is the first geostationary satellite in the IRNSS system. Planned for operation at a longitude of 83 degrees East, it will operate at the middle station of the constellation.

Two more geostationary satellites will be added; at longitudes of 34 and 132 degrees, while the remaining four spacecraft will operate in inclined geosynchronous orbits to increase the angle of separation between signals. Two of the inclined satellites are already in orbit; IRNSS-1A and 1B operate at a longitude of 55 degrees East. A second pair will be located at 111 degrees East next year.

The two satellites already in orbit were deployed in July 2013 and April 2014, both riding PSLV rockets to orbit from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre

The PSLV launch vehicle was introduced in 1993 and this is its 28th successful use (27th consecutive successful use). Today’s launch used the PSLV-XL configuration – the most powerful version of the PSLV currently flying – which makes use of six PS0M-XL boosters containing S-12 solid rocket motors. Four of these motors are lit when the rocket leaves its launch pad, with the remaining two lit during the early stages of its ascent.

 

Oil reserves to rival Saudi Arabia’s found in the Russian Arctic

September 28, 2014
Kara Sea - Arctic  Google maps

Kara Sea – Arctic Google maps

So much for peak oil!

And that’s even without taking shale oil and shale gasand methane hydrates into account.

World BulletinA joint venture between Rosneft and ExxonMobil has discovered a huge amount of oil under the Arctic. The state-run Russian oil company announced on Saturday that the University-1 well struck oil in the Kara Sea.

Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, said the “oil trap” has 338 billion cubic meters of gas and more than 100 million tonnes (733 million barrels) of oil. The total resources in the area are estimated at 13 billion tonnes (87 billion barrels) of oil equivalent, according to the Rosneft statement. According to experts, the amount of oil and gas is comparable to the resource base of Saudi Arabia.

Rosneft and ExxonMobil started drilling the University-1 well, the world’s northernmost well, in August. The field will be named Pobeda, which means “victory” in Russian

Sanctions against Russia could deprive ExxonMobil of some of the benefits due to them. Even if sanctions are relatively short-lived the Russians will surely extract their pound of flesh while they can.

ExxonMobil announced last Friday that the U.S. Treasury Department has granted it a licence to “wind down” operations at the well, in response to U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on Russia over the unrest in Ukraine.

However the Russians are still dependent on technology from the large oil companies for drilling and exploitation in these frigid conditions. They also have vast quantities of oil and gas shale in Siberia the value of which needs to be protected. The timing for the development of Arctic reserves then becomes a geopolitical and economic strategy call. It makes most sense for Russia not to flood the market and to keep gas prices to Europe high and growing. But the potential availability of this Arctic reserve – even if production is at least a decade away – adds another arrow in the Russian quiver.

But the doomsday scenarios of “peak oil” or catastrophic depletion of gas and oil reserves have vanished over the horizon – at least for the foreseeable future,

 

Adapting to climate change requires the further development and use of fossil fuels

July 31, 2014

The single thing that differentiates the human species from every other known species on earth has been the control and use of fire.The step change then from primitive to modern humans has been due not least to the control and development of the combustion process and the utilisation of fossil fuels. This in turn has multiplied many times the intensity of energy available to be harnessed by man. I would suggest that the human capability of handling change is largely a function of the power intensity available.

power intensity

power intensity

Fossil fuels have been demonised (by association with carbon dioxide emissions) for the last 30 years. In spite of that most  of the growth in the developing world has been – and continues to be – powered by fossil fuels. Fortunately the lack of evidence of any significant linkage between man-made carbon dioxide and global warming  (which is still the politically correct ideology) is beginning to be realised. The unnecessary, misplaced and ineffective increase of electricity prices in countries which have curtailed their use of fossil fuels has prolonged the recession and has cost many millions of jobs.

We have now had almost 20 years with the highest level ever of fossil fuel utilisation but “global temperature” has remained stubbornly static. In the last decade global temperatures have declined slightly. The hypothesised link between man-made carbon dioxide (which constitutes only about 3% of carbon dioxide emissions) and global temperature is well and truly broken. All the various climate computer models – which build on this link being amplified – have failed miserably.

The indicators of a global cooling cycle having started are piling up.

  1. There is more ice in the antarctic than has ever been measured
  2. There is more ice in the arctic than about a decade ago
  3. Total ice cover is higher now than has ever been measured
  4. Ice cover on the Great Lakes reached levels not seen for over 50 years and has persisted into the spring (even summer) later than has been observed for at least 40 years.
  5. The expected super El Nino forecast for this year has been dampened by a cooling Pacific and only a mild El Nino event – if at all – is now to be expected
  6. Sea level rises are no different to the long term average for sea level recovery since the last glacial minimum and may even have slowed.
  7. The deep oceans are cooling and are no repository of “hidden heat”
  8. The net cooling effect of clouds has been underestimated in nearly all models and cloud cover over the world is increasing (slightly).
  9. Man made water vapour is of greater significance than man made carbon dioxide for climate effects. But man made water vapour is almost insignificant compared to the water vapour flux due to evaporation and respiration.
  10. Solar effects are virtually ignored by all climate models but the sun does not much care for models and is reaching a low level of activity comparable to the Dalton or Maunder Minima.

Crying wolf about global warming has been the politically correct thing to do for 3 decades. Before that it was politically correct to be alarmist about the coming ice age. No doubt all the old fears about an ice age can be dusted off and recycled.

Climate change has been the most powerful force which has shaped human evolution and expansion. Sea level changes and patterns of precipitation and desertification have driven both evolution and migrations. Sea level during an ice age is about 120 m lower than it is today. More land is exposed in equatorial and tropical regions during a glacial period while land is rendered uninhabitable by the ice sheets of the north. But even primitive humanity survived during the glacials.

It is the global cooling cycles and not global warming cycles which will place the greatest demands on farming and energy. The greatest sea level change that humanity has had to – and will have to – adapt to  is the 120 m difference between glacial and interglacial conditions. During an ice age precipitation will drop sharply and river water flows will decline. Hydro power will all but dry up. It is the inevitable coming of the next ice age that will pose the real challenge – not the 1 m sea level rise that may come with another warming cycle. And when the ice age comes again it will be fossil fuels which will keep the home fires burning. It is the further exploitation of nuclear energy and fossil fuels in all its forms – coal, oil, natural gas, shale gas, gas from methane hydrates – that will be needed. It is the availability of power at the intensities provided by nuclear power and fossil fuel combustion which is what will provide humans with the wherewithal to cope with climate change, whether warming or cooling, but especially when the next ice age begins.

Whatever the alarmists would have us do in the short term, reality will eventually bite. The use of fossil fuels will – thankfully – continue as will the exploration for new sources of gas. The next generation of nuclear power plant will be developed – even though nuclear alarmism has led to a dearth of nuclear engineers. No doubt some market niches will be filled by wind and solar power but that will not be very significant in the large picture.

 

Toilets before temples – lack of toilets stunts growth in India

June 15, 2014

I tend to take anything coming out of the UN with a very healthy dose of salt. As long as it is separated from policy, not all information from the UN is worthless. Such as this report from UNICEF India from November 2013. Lack of sanitation exemplified by the lack of toilets and open defecation is strongly correlated with stunted growth of children. If Narendra Modi can make good his promise of “toilets before temples”, he will have done very well indeed. To get past the innate conservatism of rural India and get toilets to take a higher priority than the mushrooming (pun intended) shrines and temples is easier said than done.

Of the 1.1 billion people globally who defecate in the open, nearly 60 percent live in India, which means they make up more than half of the population of India. Around 55% of all households in India have no access to a toilet or even a latrine. (But 63% of all households have telephones.) Children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa who are poorer, on average and this paradox is called “the Asian enigma”.

UNICEF Report: Madhya Pradesh is also home to some of the most undernourished children in India with 58 per cent of under three’s suffering from malnutrition (compared with 45 per cent nationally). 50 per cent of children under-five also suffer from stunting, an indicator of long-term persistent malnutrition, associated with a child’s low height relative to its age. Stunting is also associated with an under-developed brain and low IQ.

The effects of stunting are said to result in a 10 per cent decrease in future income over the lifetime of stunted adults – with tragic implications for child survival, growth and development, seriously impeding India’s development. The implications for stunted mothers giving birth to stunted children are very real. 

Economists have long debated the ‘Asian Enigma’ of why Indians are more stunted – shorter in height – compared to relatively poorer children in Sub Saharan Africa for example. Now, new research has shown a correlation between long-term under-nutrition with its resultant stunted children in India, and the lack of access to toilets and hygiene. Provide children with the right nutrition at the right time, and ensure an environment free of excreta, and there will be no Asian Enigma.

“The height of Indians is not simply about genetics or down to poverty – there is a strong correlation to the poor sanitation environment many live in. India’s lack of sanitation with its high population density, stunts its children through both the loss of food, and the reduced absorption of nutrients,” says Dean Spears, of the Delhi School for Economics.

Dean Spears, How much international variation in child height can sanitation explain ?, World Bank Policy Research working paper ; no. WPS 6351, May 2013.

PDF (55 pages)

Summary: Physical height is an important economic variable reflecting health and human capital. Puzzlingly, however, differences in average height across developing countries are not well explained by differences in wealth. In particular, children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa who are poorer, on average, a paradox called “the Asian enigma” which has received much attention from economists. This paper provides the first documentation of a quantitatively important gradient between child height and sanitation that can statistically explain a large fraction of international height differences. This association between sanitation and human capital is robustly stable, even after accounting for other heterogeneity, such as in GDP. The author applies three complementary empirical strategies to identify the association between sanitation and child height: country-level regressions across 140 country-years in 65 developing countries; within-country analysis of differences over time within Indian districts; and econometric decomposition of the India-Africa height differences in child-level data. Open defecation, which is exceptionally widespread in India, can account for much or all of the excess stunting in India.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 666 other followers