Your soaps, deodorants as polluting as cars, trucks

The deodorants, smells and soaps that keep us perceiving good are hitting the breeze with an abusive kind of pollution — at stages as high as egresses from today’s cars and trucks.

That’s the amazing finding of an examination publicized Thursday in the writing ‘discipline’. scientists found that petroleum-based materials used in smells, colourants and other user commodities can, acted together, exhaust as much breeze pollution in the form of evaporable organic wholes, or VOCs, as engine automobiles do. The VOCs interact with other materials in the breeze to create the making blocks of smog, namely gas, which can initiate asthma and permanently symptom the lungs, and another kind of pollution known as PM2.5, satisfactory materials that are thought to intuition ambushes, maneuvers and lung cancer.

Smog is generally thought with cars, but since the decades controls have moved manufacturers to spend in technologies that have substantially decreased VOC egresses from cars. So the rising asset of breezed pollution made by things like chemicals and hair commodities is partly a phenomenon of cars getting cleanable.The scientists expressed their examination was motivated by earlier measurements of VOCs in Los Angeles that showed concentrations of petroleum-based wholes at stages high than could be guessed from fossil-fuel points. Concentrations of alcohol, for instance, were some 10 times high than evaluated. And those stages were increasing.

“You can see these really fast decreases in pipe egresses,” expressed Brian C McDonald, a boffin at the joint association for investigation in Environmental discipline at the body of Colorado, who governed the examination. “It made awareness to commence looking at other points and perceiving whether they could be growing in relational value.”

While people use far more fuel, by weight, than they do lotions and paints, McDonald and his colleagues found a marked difference in how much pollutants from those products end up in the air. Even though drivers can use gallons of fuel each week, “it’s stored in an airtight tank, it’s burned for energy, and converted mostly to carbon dioxide”, said Jessica B Gilman, an investigation scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric management also referred in the examination. Those dioxide egresses are not smog-forming VOCs, though they are a leading motorist of climate change.

“But these VOCs that you use in daily commodities — even though it may just be a containerful or a cipher or a pesticide — the number of those categories of wholes will ultimately extremity up in the sky, where they can act and contribute to both abusive gas arrangement and small-particle arrangement,” Gilman said. Nearly 40% of the chemicals added to consumer products wind up in the air, the team found. For consumers looking for a greener solution, McDonald offered some advice. “Use as little of the product as you can to get the job done,” he said.

 

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Activists sue to force Washington state to increase use of renewable energy

Environmental activists are suing Washington state, the latest state-level effort to boost use of renewable energy.

Thirteen children backed by the non-profit Our Children’s Trust filed a lawsuit on Friday in King County Superior Court to force the state to end its reliance on fossil fuels. The only way to do so would be for the state to move toward producing all of its energy through renewable means by 2050, Andrea Rodgers, one of the lawyers that filed the case, said in an interview.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar case filed in Alaska in October. In June, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, a pact that aimed to slow the rise in global temperature by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similar legal action taken by OTC-backed minors in Massachusetts succeeded in 2016, but failed in Pennsylvania a year later. Lawmakers in Washington’s Democratic-controlled Senate are debating the imposition of a gradually-increasing tax on carbon emissions, although critics charge it doesn’t do enough to combat climate change.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has made fighting climate change a central tenet among his policies, signing an order a year ago that requires producers of greenhouse gasses to limit emissions and incentivizes investment in renewable energy. That order is being challenged in court.

“We appreciate the governor’s work; but while words are important, they’re not everything,” Rodgers said. “The emissions in Washington are still substantial. We still have transportation and energy systems that are dependent on fossil fuels. We need a complete transformation.”

 

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In Brief: the Economics of Renewable Energy

Most experts at this point agree that a rapid and “just” transition to renewable energy would actually result in an economic boom.

Below are the top four ways in which a switch to renewable energy would be a blessing for New York and for the country as a whole:

Renewable energy production keeps the jobs local. New York State gets a whopping 92% of its energy from out of state. This translates to each household spending about $1,000 per year on energy that’s not produced at home. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with helping out our neighboring states. However, New York State–and Albany in particular–still have higher unemployment rates than the country as a whole. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the US is 4.1%, but in New York it’s almost 5%. Meanwhile, in Albany, that number increases to 5.2%. Many would agree that a higher employment rate at home should be a goal. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a government agency, the best way to keep energy jobs local is to invest in renewable energy sources.

Job growth in New York State’s renewable energy sector is nearly double that of overall job growth. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority released a report in 2017 that analyzed renewable energy job growth in the state. It paints a pretty rosie picture. Between 2015 and 2016, renewable energy jobs grew 3.4%, with a projected growth rate of 7%. This, compared to the state’s 1.9% overall growth rate, is no laughing matter. 146,000 New Yorkers work in this sector, mostly in energy efficiency. A little over 1% of people in the Capital Region work in this sector. In the US as a whole, solar jobs alone are growing 17 times faster than the overall economy. Wind is also experiencing tremendous job growth. It turns out that renewable energy is labor-intensive, meaning it requires lots of workers.

Your electric bills will likely drop. Renewable energy prices will drop until they’re competitive with fossil fuels. But the question is: when will that drop take place? Well, it turns out 2020 is the projected date. Yes, that’s right, in two years the price of wind and solar will be on-par with natural gas. Solar in particular has had a 73% drop in costs since 2010. And in some places, the prices are already competitive. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that wind and solar cost between $0.04 and $0.10 per KwH. Meanwhile, fossil fuels tend to clock in between $0.05 and $0.17 per KwH.

And so will your medical bills. In a previous blog post, I noted that pollution kills 9 million people per year, more than any other cause. Even in the Albany area, we have pockets where asthma rates are high due to high pollution (I’m thinking of South End in particular, which I covered in another blog post). Between 2001 and 2011, the number of people with asthma grew 28%, resulting in $56 billion in medical spending in 2006. A study published by NIH in 2017 found that this equates to $3,100 per patient. It is one of the top ten most expensive illnesses. Although switching to renewable energy wouldn’t completely solve the problem, it would significantly clean the air–and likely drastically cut pollution-related medical bills.

 

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European Union added almost 16 gigawatts of wind energy capacity in 2017

Some 15.7 gigawatts (GW) of new wind energy capacity were added in the European Union in 2017, according to offshore and onshore wind statistics.

Breaking down the annual figures from trade body WindEurope, onshore capacity increased by 12.5 GW and offshore grew by 3.1 GW, while new wind farm installations were 20 percent higher than in 2016.

In terms of new investments in future wind farms, projects totalling 11.5 GW reached final investment decision. The value of these investments was 22.3 billion euros ($27.53 billion), 19 percent down on 2016.

This, WindEurope said, was because cost reductions in the wind industry’s supply chain and increased competition in auctions had given investors “more capacity for less cash.”

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson described 2017 as being a strong year for wind energy and said that wind had accounted for 12 percent of Europe’s electricity.

“It’s further evidence that wind is mainstream and delivers bang for your buck,” he said. “It’s cheap, increasingly stable, and industrial consumers are now turning to it as an energy source of choice.”

 

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Germany plans to free public transport to slash pollution

Germany could slash numbers of cars on roads by making public transport free, ministers have suggested, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines.

“We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, Finance Minister Peter Altmaier and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt wrote in a letter to EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella seen by AFP Monday.

“Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” the ministers added.

A deadline arrived on January 30 for Germany and eight fellow EU members including Spain, France and Italy to meet EU limits on nitrogen dioxide and fine particles or face legal action.

Brussels environment chief Vella gave countries extra time to present further pollution-busting measures.

Alongside free transport, the politicians promised new laws by year’s end to limit emissions from buses, cabs and other fleet operators, updated traffic regulations and low emission zones, further tax breaks for less-polluting vehicles and technical retrofits to existing motors.

German ministers promised to work with state and local governments on the schemes, which will be tested in the cities of Bonn, Essen, Herrenberg, Reutlingen and Mannheim.

But Association of German Cities chief Helmut Dedy warned that “we expect a clear statement about how (free transport) will be financed” from the federal government.

“This can’t be implemented in a hurry,” agreed Michael Ebling, head of the German Association of Local Utilities.

Air quality has surged to the top of Berlin’s priorities over the past year.

Environmentalists brought court cases aimed at banning diesel cars from parts of some city centers.

Fears millions of diesel drivers could be affected prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to promise action and squeeze carmakers for funding, in the wake of successive diesel emissions cheating scandals.

“Life-threatening” pollution affects more than 130 cities in Europe, according to the Commission, causing some 400,000 deaths and costing 20 billion euros ($24.7 billion) in health spending per year in the bloc.

Countries that fail to keep to EU limits could face legal action at the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest tribunal, which can levy fines on the member states.

The Commission has already targeted Bulgaria and Poland with lawsuits.

 

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Valentine’s Day chocolates may not be the greenest way to show your love

New report links the growing global demand for cocoa to deforestation in Asia and Africa

A box of chocolates may not be the most environmentally friendly way to show your love this Valentine’s Day, a report published today claims.

The cocoa in chocolate products is probably driving deforestation across the globe, according to new research by the environmental campaigning organisation Mighty Earth.

Following an investigation by the Guardian and Mighty Earth that showed that cocoa was driving deforestation in West Africa, the group mapped cocoa-producing regions in Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador and Cameroon, and found a high risk that cocoa is driving deforestation there as well.

Mighty Earth collected cocoa import-export data and maps of regions where cocoa is grown and layered it over maps of deforestation between 2000 and 2016. They found that there was large-scale deforestation in the four countries they focused on, and they said what had happened to West African forests could happen worldwide if the industry did not change.

Etelle Higonnet, the lead researcher, said: “The Ivory Coast and Ghana stand as a cautionary tale of what could happen in other countries where cocoa is spreading, if the industry does not reform its practices.”

The chocolate industry has expanded quickly in recent years, feeding a growing global demand for chocolate.

In national parks and forest reserves in Ivory Coast, the Guardian found that swathes of trees had been cleared to plant cocoa, and that thousands of people were living and farming there under the noses of the authorities whose supposed job it was to protect them.

After the publication of the Guardian’s investigation and Mighty Earth’s report last September, 23 of the world’s biggest chocolate companies along with the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast signed up to no new deforestation in West Africa.

But far fewer said they would commit to deforestation-free cocoa worldwide – although two of the top producers, Olam and Hershey’s, said they would

 

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Sea levels could rise ‘twice as much’ as previous forecasts, scientists warn

Sea levels will rise by twice as much as previously forecast, researchers have found. By the end of the century sea levels will rise by 65cm – more than two feet – according to the latest projections.

Until now a rise of 30cm by 2100 has been the widely accepted figure.

Such rises are feared to be likely to cause “significant difficulties” for coastal cities and low-lying regions, especially once storm surges are taken into consideration.

 

‘Significant difficulties’

 

Since 1993 sea levels have been rising by about 3mm a year, meaning they have risen more than 7cm in the last 25 years, but a study by US researchers has concluded the rise will accelerate.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Steve Nerem, of the University of Colorado Boulder and one of the co-authors of the study, said even a total of 65cm was a “conservative estimate”.

“Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that’s not likely.”

He said rising concentrations of greenhouse gases increased the temperature of air and water, causing sea levels to rise in two ways.

The first of these was warmer water expanding, with this “thermal expansion” of the oceans having contributed around half of the 7cm global mean sea level rise over the last 25 years.

 

Game-changer

 

The second was that of melting ice flowing into the oceans from places such as Greenland and Antarctica.

Co-author Gary Mitchum, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, said the acceleration predicted by models had now been detected directly from their observations.

He said: “I think this is a game-changer as far as the climate change discussion goes.”

Bangladesh and the Maldives are among the regions of the world most threatened by rising seas.

The UK is also at risk, with East Anglia likely to face more flooding. London is also at risk from surges and there are fears the Thames Barrier will need to be improved or replaced.

 

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8 Major Cities Running Out of Water

Despite rejoicing at recent rainfall, Cape Town is the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running completely out of drinking water.

The drought-hit South African city is expecting ‘Day Zero’ – when taps will be switched off in homes and residents will have to go to collection points for rationed water – to arrive on 11 May.

Experts have long been warning about water scarcity. The United Nations World Water Development Report warned that the global demand for fresh water would exceed supply by 40% in 2030.

A 2014 study of the world’s 500 largest cities has also estimated that one in four are experiencing a strain on water supplies.

Due to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth, water shortages are predicted to become increasingly common in major cities as well as rural nations.

Here are eight other major cities across the world at risk of running out of water.

 

Mexico City

 

Mexico City’s 21 million residents already experience limited access to drinking water. Many only have running water for part of the day, while one in five get just a few hours from their taps a week.

At more than 2,000 metres above sea level, the city’s aging water system struggles to meet demands and loses more than 980 litres a second due to leaks.

 

Jakarta

 

An estimated 40% of the coastal city now lies below sea level as residents suck up groundwater from below the surface. The city has limited the amount of water that can be extracted from wells in an attempt to stop subsidence.

 

Sao Paulo

 

Brazil’s financial capital went through a similar crisis to Cape Town in 2015 when its main reservoir fell below 4% capacity. At the height of the crisis, emergency water trucks were looted and the taps in many homes were cut to just a few hours twice a week.

In January 2017 the main water reserves were below 15% – putting the city’s water supply once again at risk.

 

Beijing

 

Poor air quality isn’t the only environmental issue Beijing residents have to deal with.

The city’s second-largest reservoir has remained closed since 1997 due to pollution. In 2014, the Beijing’s 20 million inhabitants had only 145 cubic metres of fresh water per person (less than 1,000 per person is classified as water scarcity by the World Bank).

China is home to nearly 20% of the world’s population but has only 7% of the world’s fresh water.

 

Cairo

 

97% of Egypt’s water comes from the River Nile, but it is increasingly becoming contaminated with untreated agricultural and residential waste.

The UN estimates critical water shortages in Egypt by 2025.

 

Bangalore

 

The south Indian city’s water and sewer systems have struggled to keep up since with a population boom and the rise of new property developments since the Bangalore’s rise as a technological hub.

The city loses more than half its drinking water due to its antiquated plumbing system. Like China, India also struggles with water pollution.

 

Tokyo

 

The Japanese capital’s rainfall is concentrated during four months of the year – making it hard to collect water.

One dry rainfall season means risk of droughts for the 30 million population. Tokyo’s water system largely depends on surface water (rivers, lakes and melted snow).

 

London

 

London is by far the most surprising city facing water shortages. While the UK is known for getting lots of rain, its capital actually has a lower annual rainfall than Paris and New York and draws 80% of its water from rivers.

With a rapidly growing population and an aging plumbing system, water companies say Londoners face a one in five probability of queuing at standpipes for their water for days or weeks during summer in the coming 25 years.

The Great London Authority says the city’s water supply is close to capacity and is likely to have problems by 2025 and “serious shortages” by 2040 if alternative sources aren’t found.

 

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Plastic-saving platform: Network Rail announces station water fountains

Rail infrastructure giant Network Rail will today become the latest recruit to the ‘war on plastic’ with the announcement of a new trial to introduce a drinking water fountain at one of its largest stations.

The company said it would introduce a new water fountain at London Charing Cross by the end of March, with a view to completing a full rollout of free drinking water facilities at all its managed stations by the end of the year, “where it is practical and feasible to do so”.

Network Rail manages some of the UK’s largest stations, including all of London’s main stations, Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly, Glasgow Central, and others.

“By introducing free water fountains at our managed stations we can make a simple change that not only helps quench the thirst of station users, but also has a positive impact on our sustainability ambitions by reducing single-use plastics,” said David Biggs, managing director of Network Rail Property. “We’re looking forward to the introduction of these water fountains and the benefits they will bring the public and the environment.”

The company said it had been “encouraged” by steps taken by some of its retail tenants to curb the use of single use plastics and would now work with them to further explore how plastic waste can be reduced through changes to packaging and cutlery.

The move comes just weeks after London Mayor Sadiq Khan unveiled plans to identify sites for 20 new free drinking fountains across the capital this year in a bid to encourage people to avoid single use plastic bottles.

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