Archive for the ‘Air pollution’ Category

Electric vehicles have no impact on emissions

January 22, 2014

If electric vehicles are to succeed they will have to provide the consumer with some real benefits by way of cost or convenience which are more than for feeling good. That in turn depends upon the further development of battery technology and increasing the range of the vehicle on a single charge. The cost of the vehicle and the speed of charging are other key factors.

The supposed environmental benefits are largely illusory since they merely shift the source of power generation (combustion from the internal combustion engine in a vehicle) to a power plant. In the United States this power generation is most likely to be fossil fired (coal or shale gas). A new study shows that even if electric vehicles made up more than 40% of all vehicles, emissions would be largely unchanged. As of 2012 electric vehicles made up about 0.5% of new vehicle sales and about 0.06% (170,000 of 254 million) of all vehicles on the road in the US.

( new study from North Carolina State University indicates that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides. … The researchers ran 108 different scenarios in a powerful energy systems model to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. They found that, even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants. …..

The energy systems model also showed that key factors in encouraging use of EDVs are oil price and battery cost. If batteries are cheap and oil is expensive, EDVs become more attractive to consumers.

“How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter to Future U.S. Emissions?” Published: online January 2014 in Environmental Science & Technology

Abstract Image

Energy System Model

Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles—known collectively as electric drive vehicles (EDVs)—may represent a clean and affordable option to meet growing U.S. light duty vehicle (LDV) demand. The goal of this study is twofold: identify the conditions under which EDVs achieve high LDV market penetration in the U.S. and quantify the associated change in CO2, SO2, and NOX emissions through mid-century. We employ the Integrated MARKAL-EFOM System (TIMES), a bottom-up energy system model, along with a U.S. dataset developed for this analysis. To characterize EDV deployment through 2050, varying assumptions related to crude oil and natural gas prices, a CO2 policy, a federal renewable portfolio standard, and vehicle battery cost were combined to form 108 different scenarios. Across these scenarios, oil prices and battery cost have the biggest effect on EDV deployment. The model results do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend towards lower system-wide emissions as EDV deployment increases. In addition to the tradeoff between lower tailpipe and higher electric sector emissions associated with plug-in vehicles, the scenarios produce system-wide emissions effects that often mask the effect of EDV deployment.

Australia rejects carbon credits for killing camels because emission reduction assessment was incomplete

January 27, 2013

The Australian carbon credits scheme goes from bad to mad!!

So, killing camels for carbon credits is perfectly acceptable provided only that the emissions reduction by the curbing of their flatulence can be properly assessed.

The Reasons for Refusal of the application states:

The Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee (DOIC) advises that it has decided to refuse to
endorse methodology proposal Management of large feral herbivores (camels) in the
Australian rangelands (Ref: 2011FA001) because it does not satisfy the requirements for a
methodology determination specified in Section 112 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming
Initiative) Act 2011 (the Act).

Feral Australian camel: wikipedia

I expect that after a program of installing measurement balloons to the rear end of feral camels and measuring their typical flatulence the application could be resubmitted.

Camel-Slaughter Plan Rejected for Australian Carbon Credits

A plan to give carbon credits for slaughtering camels, curbing emissions coming from their flatulence, was rejected by an Australian government committee.

The proposal by Northwest Carbon Pty, a land and animal management consultant, didn’t provide clear instructions for protecting animal welfare, and the method for assessing emission reductions was incomplete, according to a report by the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee published yesterday on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s website.

….. “This decision by the DOIC simply serves to highlight the significant challenges faced by private proponents attempting to develop any genuinely innovative new methodologies under the CFI,” Tim Moore, managing director at Northwest Carbon, said in the e-mail. “We expect to submit a new, revised methodology in the second quarter of this year, having dealt with all the specific issues the DOIC raised,” he said.

Northwest Carbon proposed shooting the camels or sending them to an abattoir, after which the meat would be processed for animal or human consumption. Wild camels are estimated to cause more than A$5 million ($5.3 million) in damage to pastoral lands, fences and buildings annually, according to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. …… The legislation for Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative listed management of feral camels as potentially eligible for carbon credits, Moore said in his e-mail. “A feral animal methodology is important to the ability of the CFI to deliver quantifiable emission reductions domestically within Australia.”

Mt. Etna bursts into life

January 14, 2011

The European Space Agency reports:

Sulphur dioxide plume over Mediterranean

This image, which was acquired by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on NASA's EOS-AQUA satellite, shows the plume of sulphur dioxide currently being carried over the Mediterranean Sea. Credits: NASA, Norwegian Institute for Air Research

13 January 2011

Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna on the Italian island of Sicily, erupted briefly yesterday sending flames and ash hundreds of metres into the air.

This image, which was acquired by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on NASA’s EOS-AQUA satellite, shows the plume of sulphur dioxide currently being carried over the Mediterranean Sea.

The data have been processed by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research within the framework of ESA’s Data User Element and can be used to warn aviation companies on the hazardous plume.

File:Mount Etna snow-toppd.jpg

Mount Etna, Sicily, topped in snow 5 February 2009: image Wikimedia

The Cancun hype begins – but it is all about money not climate

November 22, 2010

With one week left before the Cancun circus begins (UN/ IPCC Climate Conference from 29th November to 10th December), the mainstream media hype has begun.

Global CO2 expected to rise to record levels screams the Daily Telegraph. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are expected to reach record levels this year, according to a new study, despite the recession and global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases – but what that has to do with climate is uncertain. No doubt it has a great deal to do with pricing of the Carbon Trading market. As The Telegraph points out (inadvertently perhaps) this is just hype timed to come just before the UN jamboree.

The results of the study by the Global Carbon Project will be used to put pressure on environment ministers meeting in Cancun, Mexico this month for the latest UN meeting to come to a global agreement on cutting emissions.

The Cancun meeting itself is all about money and Carbon Trading. The collapse of the Chicago exchange and the growing realisation in Europe that Carbon Trading is just a scam is leading all those with a vested interest in carbon pricing to raise the spectres of carbon dioxide again.  Hopefully these efforts will be as useless as at Copenhagen but some “trading” being introduced through the back door is always a possibility.

The two main “money flows” that Cancun is concerned with is the carbon trading fraud and the diversion of funds to “developing” countries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide. Just as with the Nagoya biodiversity conference a key objective is the redistribution of wealth. In fact biodiversity and climate are merely convenient scare stories which can act as vehicles for arranging for the flow of funds. A UN IPCC official admitted as much when talking about climate policy:

OTTMAR EDENHOFER, UN IPCC OFFICIAL: “That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all”.

Mount Merapi eruption images from Nasa

November 11, 2010

The steep-sided, cone-shaped Mount Merapi volcano is both boon and curse to the people of Indonesia. Volcanic ash from its frequent eruptions makes the soil fertile enough to support a large population. It is also one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, posing a constant threat to tens of thousands of people who live in its shadow. On October 26, 2010, the volcano once again turned destructive, unleashing a series of eruptions that had killed at least 44 people and forced 75,000 people from their homes, said CNN on November 4.

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia: Nov 1st: image NASA


The mountain has been shrouded in clouds throughout the eruption, but on October 30 the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the thermal signature of hot ash and rock and a glowing lava dome. The thermal data is overlaid on a three-dimensional map of the volcano to show the approximate location of the flow. The three-dimensional data is from a global topographic model created using ASTER stereo observations.

The Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation reported that two pyroclastic flows moved down the volcano on October 30. A pyroclastic flow is an avalanche of extremely hot gas, ash, and rock that tears down the side of a volcano at high speeds. ASTER imaged one of those flows.

Merapi shows no signs of slowing. After several days of eruptive episodes, the volcano began an eruption on November 3 that was five times more intense than on October 26 and lasted more than 24 hours. It is the most violent eruption at the volcano since the 1870s, said local geologists.

See more NASA images at:

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia

SO2 cloud from Mt. Merapi: 4th November: image NASA

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Ash plume from Mt. Merapi 8th Nov: image NASA


China: Cutting power generation to cut emissions makes things worse

November 7, 2010


The Skyline of the City

Guiyang-skyline: Image via Wikipedia


Xinhua reports on a diesel shortage because electricity consumers are forced to use diesel generators as authorities shut down power generation to reach “emissions targets”. Needless to say the emissions from the diesel generators are a lot worse than the forced power shut-downs they replace!

An unprecedented diesel shortage is sweeping through Chinese cities, as numerous enterprises have to resort to diesel fuel to generate electricity to continue operation during periods of forced power outages. Local governments are rushing to switch off electricity as part of their commitment to the central government on energy conservation and emissions reductions.

However, the blackouts have apparently led to the linking effect of the diesel shortage. Long queues of cars and even “Sold-out” signs at gas stations are increasingly common scenes in many cities. Additionally, the market monitoring of the China Chamber of Commerce for the Petroleum Industry has acknowledged that more than 2,000 privately-owned gas stations in southern China had shut down due to their not having diesel fuel to sell.

During the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), China sought to reduce energy consumption per GDP unit by 20 percent. In the first four years of the 11th five-year plan, a 15.6 percent reduction (compared to between year 2005 and year 2009) was reached. But energy consumption per unit of GDP increased 0.09 percent in the first half of 2010, year on year. In a hurry to meet their regional targets assigned by the central government, many local governments chose the blackout method for enterprises in the remaining two months. This method quickly spread to many provinces around China.

In Wenzhou city of Zhejiang Province, with China’s most prosperous private economy, power supplies for some enterprises will be cut for two to four days following one day with electricity. “My company’s electricity consumption is about 150,000 kw-hr, but the local government’s allotment is only 60,000 kw-hr.” said the owner of an export-oriented farm products deep-processing company, who only gave his surname, Ye. Just as is being done by many of his peers, Ye had to purchase a diesel generator with 200,000 yuan (about 30,000 U.S. dollars). It will cost him an additional 10,000 yuan (about 1,500 U.S. dollars) to generate electricity, twice the normal cost for electricity.

“The irrational blackout policy by some local governments is contrary to the energy conservation and emissions reduction target as was set by China’s 11th Five-Year Plan,” said Dr.Zhang Jianyu, China Program manager of the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund. Also, more emissions and fuel consumption might be produced by the diesel generators. “The blackout is not a wise choice. What the local governments need to do now is to pay attention to change the mode of economic growth with high efficiency and low energy consumption,” said Zhong Yongsheng, deputy director of the Center for China’s Urban-Rural Development Studies.

Environmentalism gone mad.

Mount Merapi ash cloud leads to cancellation of flights to Jakarta

November 6, 2010

Mount Merapi volcano lies 431 km from Jakarta. But the continuing eruptions over the last two weeks have pumped sufficient ash sufficiently high into the atmosphere that flights to Jakarta are beginning to be cancelled. Flights to Yogyakarta, the nearest large airport to Mount Merapi, were suspended a few days ago.

The Guardian reports:

Several airlines have suspended flights into Indonesia’s capital Jakarta after Mount Merapi’s worst eruption in a century spewed volcanic ash up to five miles (8km) into the air.

The move came as number of people killed by Mount Merapi in the last two weeks climbed to 138 after the volcano unleashed a surge of searing gas yesterday that torched houses and trees and incinerated villagers.

Officials at Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and AirAsia fear the ash is a safety threat and could damage aircraft.

“The volcanic ash presence in the airways surrounding Jakarta could cause severe damage to our aircraft and engines which could impair the safety of our operations including passengers and crew,” said Azharuddin Osman, director of operations for Malaysia Airlines.


mt merapi erupting

Lightning strikes as Mount Merapi volcano erupted today, spewing out towering clouds of hot gas and debris, as seen from Ketep village in Magelang, Indonesia's Central Java province. Photograph: Beawiharta/Reuters



Microbes ate the oil and now plants clean up pollution

October 22, 2010

Not only do microbes eat up methane and other oil wastes faster than expected, it now seems that vegetation eats up air pollution to a much greater degree than thought. A new paper in Science finds that oxygenated volatile organic compounds (oVOCs) are taken up by deciduous plants at an unexpectedly fast rate–as much as four times more rapidly than previously thought.

T. Karl, P. Harley, L. Emmons, B. Thornton, A. Guenther, C. Basu, A. Turnipseed, K. Jardine. Efficient Atmospheric Cleansing of Oxidized Organic Trace Gases by VegetationScience, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1192534

From Eurekalert:

“Plants clean our air to a greater extent than we had realized,” says NCAR scientist Thomas Karl, the lead author. “They actively consume certain types of air pollution.”

The research team focused on a class of chemicals known as oxygenated volatile organic compounds (oVOCs), which can have long-term impacts on the environment and human health. “The team has made significant progress in understanding the complex interactions between plants and the atmosphere,” says Anne-Marie Schmoltner of NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. The compounds form in abundance in the atmosphere from hydrocarbons and other chemicals that are emitted from both natural sources–including plants–and sources related to human activities, including vehicles and construction materials.

The compounds help shape atmospheric chemistry and influence climate.

Eventually, some oVOCs evolve into tiny airborne particles, known as aerosols, that have important effects on both clouds and human health.

By measuring oVOC levels in a number of ecosystems in the United States and other countries, the researchers determined that deciduous plants appear to be taking up the compounds at an unexpectedly fast rate–as much as four times more rapidly than previously thought.

The uptake was especially rapid in dense forests and most evident near the tops of forest canopies, which accounted for as much as 97 percent of the oVOC uptake that was observed. Karl and his colleagues then tackled a follow-up question: How do plants absorb such large quantities of these chemicals?

The scientists moved their research into their laboratories and focused on poplar trees. The species offered a significant advantage in that its genome has been sequenced. The team found that when the study trees were under stress, either because of a physical wound or because of exposure to an irritant such as ozone pollution, they began sharply increasing their uptake of oVOCs. At the same time, changes took place in expression levels of certain genes that indicated heightened metabolic activity in the poplars.

The uptake of oVOCs, the scientists concluded, appeared to be part of a larger metabolic cycle. Plants can produce chemicals to protect themselves from irritants and repel invaders such as insects, much as a human body may increase its production of white blood cells in reaction to an infection.

But these chemicals, if produced in enough quantity, can become toxic to the plant itself.


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