Thursday, December 19, 2013

China News: North winds to drive up pollution in Shanghai (12 Dec 2013)

North winds to drive up pollution in Shanghai

Shanghai Daily, December 12, 2013
Pollutants brought by northwest winds and unfavorable conditions mean the city will experience slightly to moderately polluted day today but rain is also forecast for Sunday.
Two foreigners walk in the winter sun in downtown Shanghai yesterday. Pollutants brought by northwest winds and unfavorable conditions will make the city slightly to moderately polluted today but rain is forecast for Sunday. 
The Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center has predicted a moderately polluted air quality this morning with the air quality index hovering between 155 and 175.
In the afternoon, the index is expected to drop slightly to 120 and 140, indicating a lightly polluted air quality. The major pollutant will be PM2.5.
Yesterday was slightly polluted with the index standing at 148 at 6pm, with the density of tiny PM2.5 particles at 70.8 micrograms per cubic meter.
Light haze is also forecasted for morning today.
"Haze is quite common in winter," said Wu Rui, a chief service officer of the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
Man Liping, another chief service officer at the bureau, said the haze is caused by pollutants brought by the northwestern winds under the influence of a weak cold front, leading to a drop in the visibility.
The temperature should rise slightly to 12 degrees Celsius with strong cloud cover. But it could be as low as 3 degrees in the morning, Man said.
The temperature will be stable the following two days with mostly cloudy and sunny skies. But rains — long absent from the city — are predicted for Sunday and Monday.
The warm and wet air from southwest kept the city dry for a while, leading to nearly 80 percent drop in rains in November compared to the same periods in previous years. The mercury should drop as well.
Rain is forecasted for both Sunday and Monday with temperatures dropping to a low of 6 degrees and high of 10.
But the forecasters weren't willing to guess if the much-delayed arrival of rain will drive away the pollutants.

Singapore News: Inaugural ASEAN Climate Outlook Forum Launched (5 Dec 2013)

Inaugural ASEAN Climate Outlook Forum Launched

Singapore hosts first-ever regional platform for ASEAN countries to
develop consensus-based regional seasonal climate outlook

Singapore, 5 December 2013 – In a new initiative to improve understanding of climate variability and change relevant to Southeast Asia, and to develop a consensus-based seasonal climate outlook for the region, Singapore hosted the first-ever ASEAN Climate Outlook Forum (ASEAN-COF) from 3 to 5 December 2013 at the Centre for Climate for Research.  The establishment of ASEAN-COF was endorsed in July 2013 by the ASEAN Sub-Committee on Meteorology and Geophysics (SCMG), comprising the National Meteorological Services (NMS) of ASEAN member countries.
2          A total of about 40 experts from the NMS of ASEAN member countries, international experts from China, Japan, South Korea, USA and Europe as well as representatives from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), participated in the three-day event. The meeting was supported by WMO under a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
3          The Director-General of the Meteorological Service Singapore, Ms Wong Chin Ling, explained the significance of the forum, “This inaugural session of ASEAN-COF brings together expertise from the leading climate modelling and prediction centres around the world, and marks an important milestone in advancing regional capabilities and collaboration in the area of seasonal climate prediction. Long-range forecasts of rainfall, temperature and other weather parameters have numerous useful applications such as risk assessment of transboundary smoke haze occurrences caused by regional land and forest fires during the dry season, as well as flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains during the rainy season.”
4          The inaugural ASEAN-COF saw a fruitful exchange of ideas and plans discussed to improve long-range forecasts for the region. In particular, the participants reached a consensus on the regional climate outlook for the current Northeast Monsoon season from December to February. For southern Southeast Asia, normal to above normal rainfall is expected, while normal to below normal rainfall is expected for northern Southeast Asia during the season[1]. There was also agreement that more scientific research was needed to improve understanding of the predictability of rainfall in the region as well as the key drivers of the region’s climate, such as the El Nino and La Nina phenomena. 
5          Dr Rupa Kumar Kolli, Acting Director of Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch of WMO said, “For more than 15 years, WMO has been supporting Regional Climate Outlook Forums which now serve more than half the world’s population with climate outlooks of up to three months ahead. Seasonal climate outlooks offer increasingly reliable and accessible decision-support tools for climate-sensitive sectors such as farming, public health, water as well as disaster risk reduction and translate advances in scientific knowledge into practical services for society. The new ASEAN Climate Outlook Forum will enable us to spread the benefits of these climate services to millions more people.”
6          The ASEAN-COF will meet annually in the fourth quarter of every year and will focus on forecasting the Northeast Monsoon season, evaluating end user requirements and putting in place plans for these to be addressed. Another ASEAN-COF will be held in conjunction with the annual ASEAN SCMG meeting in the second quarter every year and will focus on forecasting the Southwest Monsoon season. While ASEAN-COF provides regional climate outlooks, it is the responsibility of NMSs to update and downscale them to shorter time-frames and local levels for their respective countries.          
7          ASEAN-COF is considered to be a key initiative in the context of the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) in Southeast Asia. For more information on the GFCS, refer to the website                                                                
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Vietnam News: Rural Environmental Protection In Northern Delta (7 Dec 2013)

RURAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN NORTHERN DELTAThứ bẩy, ngày 30 tháng 11 năm 2013 cập nhật lúc 12:09

1. Overview of natural, socio-economic and environmental conditions
North Delta includes provinces of Hanoi, Hai PhongBac NinhVinh PhucHai DuongHung YenThai BinhHa NamNam Dinhand Ninh Binh.
Its natural area is 1,481.2 hectaresaccounting for 4.5of the national areaThe population in 2009 was 19.625 million, accounting for 22.75of the population of the whole countrymainly Kinh people.
The Northern Delta is surrounded by forests, mountains and the Gulf of TonkinThe highland around the Delta separates the forestsof the Northeast and Northwest mountainsSea here is shallow without major ocean currents so that people along the coastal areas mainly earn their living by agriculture, salt making and inshore fishing.
2. Traditional economic structure of farmers is mainly: Cultivation, breeding, aquaculture and fishing
The economic structure establishes the balance and maintains the relative stability for the surroundings.
In the economic structure of traditional agriculturecultivation and breeding are traditional with close relationshipIn this traditionalrelationship, breeding not only acts as a plant which processes waste products and crop products into animal protein to meet dailynutritional requirements for peoplebut also provides traction and organic fertilizer for the cultivation.
As organic agricultureusing manual labour for irrigation, as well as cultivation techniques by the ancestor’s experienceits productis basically clean, has low productivity, and little affects the surroundings.
3. Organizational structure of traditional rural society
The village is seen as a social and cultural unitIn terms of form: Village is a gathering point of residentsIn terms of the origin:Village is the expansion and development of a family and line... Village is not an administrative organization but in history plays an important role in the management and organization of all aspects of the farmersTherefore, the village conventions are established besidesthe State current laws.
Conventions clearly state rules of each village on life, production, organization and social relations, natural environment protection, cultural and spiritual activities etc.
The convention’s contents cover the essential issues of the village such as security protection, livestock wandering prevention, environmental protection, and support in the community.
4. Socio-economic development
Until the 1970s of the 20th century, the use of chemicals in agricultural production was still very limited in our country in general and in the northern delta region in particular. At that time, the population density was low, the land was fertile, fresh brown and rich in phosphorus and potassium; in agricultural production, the farmers mainly used organic fertilizers and green manure. Accordingly, the characteristic of the agricultural production was still organic agriculture in this period.
Along with the socio-economic development, the population began to increase rapidlyRapid population growth and mostly no land expansion for agricultural production, thus, the farmland scale per household is very low » 0.24 ha/householdThereforeincome fromtraditionally agricultural production is not enough to meet the needs of people life.
5. Land policy and policy of science and technology application started changing in 1980s.
Starting with the Party Secretariat’s Directive 100 issued on January 13, 1981 on improving contractual work and expanding the piece work system to groups and laborers, (often referred to as Contractual system 100), following by Resolution 10 of the Politburo in 1988, and then the 1993 land law granting the long-term land use rights for peasant households, all have created the initiative in agricultural production.
Thus, in the early 1990s, along with the policy of market-oriented economy development, plant protection chemicals were used with a large volume; the farmers took the initiative in plant and domestic animal restructuring, intensive cultivation, increase in crops, and agricultural product diversification towards goods production that has increased the food output and developed the rural economy.

However, the environmental protection has not been given due attention, the social management is loose, the farmers pursue the enrichment strategy "by all means" despite the harm to the environment and consequently, the environment is heavily polluted.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

China News: Poor lead battery recycling raises fears (12 Dec 2013)

Poor lead battery recycling raises fears

The government should improve policies and formulate measures to better regulate the network for recycling lead-acid storage batteries, a major source of lead pollution, according to a policy research report released in Beijing on Wednesday.
"China is the biggest producer, consumer and exporter of lead-acid storage batteries in the world. More than 2.6 million metric tons of waste lead-acid storage batteries are generated in China every year, but less than 30 percent are reclaimed and processed under official standards," said Shen Xiaoyue, a senior engineer from the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, a think tank affiliated to the Environmental Protection Ministry and the main producer of the report.
The proportion of such batteries reclaimed in developed countries is usually more than 95 percent.
Lead that leaks into the environment without proper treatment poses significant health threats, especially to children, said Pan Xiaochuan, a professor at Peking University’s School of Public Health.
It can destroy children’s nervous systems, leading to cognitive problems, attention deficit disorder and anemia, said Pan.
At least 10 lead poisoning scandals took place across China from 2007 to 2009, with more than 6,000 children suffering excessive blood lead levels.
"A major source of lead pollution some 20 years ago in China was printing, but as the technology has upgraded, the contribution of waste lead-acid storage batteries has become increasingly prominent," Pan said.
Almost 900,000 tons of waste acid containing lead from lead-acid storage batteries entered the environment untreated from 2008 to 2012, polluting the air, water and soil, said Cao Guoqing, deputy secretary-general of the China Battery Industry Association.
There are already tight restrictions on the recycling, storage and disposal of lead-acid storage batteries, one of 49 types of hazardous waste under special regulation. However, poor management results in chaos in practice, the report said.
"Of the 40-some companies qualified to handle hazardous waste nationwide, only five are authorized to transport and dispose of waste lead-acid storage batteries," Cao said. "But more than half of the waste batteries go to illegal dealers, polluting the environment after they are dismantled haphazardly."
Yang Xiaoming, another senior engineer from the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, said the main problem is not the small number of legal recyclers, but the huge price difference between legal and illegal dealers, which prompts most waste batteries to be sold to the latter.
"The purchase price offered by illegal dealers can be as high as 7,000 yuan ($1,150) per metric ton, but if my price is higher than 4,000 yuan per ton, I’ll start losing money considering the 200-million-yuan investment I spent on equipment and running costs," said Wan Xuejie, deputy general manager of Shanxi Jitaly Science and Technology Co.
The company is one of the national pilot projects to promote standard recycling of waste lead-acid storage batteries.
The business of collecting waste batteries nationwide and recycling them remains unprofitable, said Wan.
Beijing Eco-island Science and Technology Co, the only qualified battery collector in Beijing, encounters similar problems.
Built to treat 20,000 tons of waste batteries a year, the company can only access 7,000 tons to recycle.
In March 2013, five ministries issued a document that said the rate of standardized recycling of waste lead-acid storage battery would reach 90 percent by 2015.
"With good policy guidance and a legal framework, achieving such a high rate is possible, when everybody in the system is better off. The system in China is not working for anyone right now except for those who operate illegally, so it’s time to act," said David Lennett, senior attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an international environmental NGO headquartered in New York and the other producer of the report

Worlds News: Why green growth is a necessary goal (6 Dec 2013)

Why green growth is a necessary goal

Martin Wolf

Indian News: Breathless? Blame it on temperature, trapped pollutants (12 Dec 2013)

Breathless? Blame it on temperature, trapped pollutants

Indian News: Villagers struggle to save land as islands shrink in Sundarban (12 Dec 2013)

Villagers struggle to save land as islands shrink in Sundarban
PTI | Dec 12, 2013, 02.17 PM IST
Villagers struggle to save land as islands shrink in Sundarban
Thousands of farmers living on the banks of the islands in Sundarbans are struggling to protect their land.
SUNDARBANS: Imagine buying a plot of land only to see it vanishing into the river gradually after a few years! 

Thousands of farmers living on the banks of the islands in Sundarbans are struggling to protect their land as their villages are shrinking in size due to rising sea levels induced by climate change

As a child, 50-year-old farmer Sahadeb Gururecalls how while sitting on the banks of the island in Pathar Pratima he could hear people talking in the nearby island on the opposite side of the river. 

Decades later, the river has widened so much that it now needs a binocular to find the island on the other side. 

All these years, people living on both the islands have lost many acres of land due to heavy erosion, points out Chittapriyo Sadhuproject manager of NGO Save the Children. 

Guru says he had to shift his house thrice in the last few decades and lost few bighas of land as the river keeps on eating into the island on a regular basis. 

The story is the same for thousands of islanders living on the banks of the archipelago comprising over 100 islands. A three-hour drive from Kolkata, it is a complex network of streams, rivers, tidal creeks and channels. 

Spread over an area of 9,630 sq km in India, Sundarbans has the world's largest mangrove forest and also hosts a Tiger Reserve and three wildlife sanctuaries. 

"Coastal erosion which appears to be a product of change in sea level and tidal hydraulics is constantly reshaping the islands of Indian Sundarbans," says professor Sugata Hazra, director of the School of Oceanography Studies in Jadavpur University. 

According to a study done under him, the rate of coastal erosion have been measured to be about 5.50 sq kms per year within the time frame of 2001-2009. 

The total land area of 6402.090 sq kms of Sundarbans in the year 2001 was found to be reduced to 6358.048 sq kms in 2009 registering a land net loss of 44.042 sq kms. 

In the last 30 years approximately 7,000 people have been displaced as a result of erosion. 

Environmentalist Ashish Kumar Ghosh says Sundarbans is an active delta and we do not know how it is going to shape up finally. 

"It is an immature delta as the rivers are still taking its course. Then there is the effect of sea level rise. Due to all these factors the Sundarbans delta is still in its formation stage. So we have to leave it to nature on how it will shape up finally," he says.

According to a report prepared by a group of ecologists led by M Zafar-ul Islam, under the 1 metre sea-level rise scenario, the Sundarbans will lose more than half of its area. 

Sea level is rising due to thermal expansion of the ocean, mountain glacier melting, and discharge from ice sheets as a result of global warming. 

Villagers and experts say embankments have failed to protect the islands from the cycle of twice-a-day floods and cyclonic storm surges while mangrove trees which act as efficient barriers against erosion have decreased

source from:

Indian News: Coal port plan will kill Great Barrier Reef: Activists (11 Dec 2013)

Coal port plan will kill Great Barrier Reef: Activists

Coal port plan will kill Great Barrier Reef: Activists
Environment minister Greg Hunt gave the green light to the project by India's Adani Group, under what he labelled as "some of the strictest conditions in Australian history" governing environmental protection.

SYDNEY: Conservationists on Wednesday slammed Australia's approval for an Indian firm to expand a major coal port on the Great Barrier Reef coast, warning it would hasten the natural wonder's demise. 

"The Great Barrier Reef is dying and (Prime Minister) Tony Abbott is hastening its death,"Greens leader Christine Milne told reporters. 

"(He) has made it clear that industrialising the reef, giving approvals to coal mines and gas facilities for his big business mates, is a much greater priority for him than protecting the reef and the 63,000 jobs that depend on it," she said Environment minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday gave the green light to the project by India's Adani Group, under what he labelled as "some of the strictest conditions in Australian history" governing environmental protection. 

Adani can now dredge some three million cubic metres from the seabed to allow for freighters to dock at the port in Abbott Point, lifting the facility's capacity by 70 percent to make it one of the world's largest coal ports. 

WWF Australia said the material dredged during the expansion would be enough to fill 150,000 dump trucks that "lined up bumper-to-bumper would stretch from Brisbane to Melbourne", a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles). 

Greenpeace said Hunt had ignored the "serious concerns of scientists, tourism operators, fishers and Unesco" to approve a development just 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the pristine Whitsunday Islands. 

Unesco's World Heritage Committee is to decide in June whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as being in danger, Greenpeace campaigner Louise Matthiesson noted, "and this decision will cause alarm among the international community". 

"If these plans succeed, and Abbot Point becomes the world's biggest coal port, Australia will be speeding up the climate crisis that threatens our children's future." 

The reef is now formally considered to be in "poor" health by government scientists, with overall coral cover declining by 15 percent since 2009 due to cyclones and floods, pollution and attacks by the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. 

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - whose board is currently under investigation for its links to the mining industry -- must now issue a permit allowing the dredge material to be disposed of within the park. 

It said it would reveal its intentions within the next 10 days. Hunt has also approved a major liquefied natural gas plant and transmission pipeline at Curtis Island, which is also within the reef marine park, for Australian firm Arrow Energy under 53 environmental conditions.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

World News: Bridging the Gap between research and Application (10 Dec 2013)

Bridging the Gap between Research and Application

10 December 2013

Bridging the Gap between Research and ApplicationAurea Christine Tanaka
Finalists of the 2013 ProSPER.Net-Scopus Young Scientist Award in Sustainable Development.
Photos: Elsevier
There is a common understanding amongst sustainability practitioners that we need to find viable options for the increasing environmental, social, economic and cultural challenges humanity is facing. Media and academic circles have overly stressed the need for an integrated approach in education and especially in policy-making. Underlying this thinking is the question of how to enhance more interdisciplinary-based learning, understanding and collaborations, and thus, how scientists can generate knowledge, dialogue with other audiences, translate the findings into applicable solutions, and provide relevant information to assist the formulation of policies.
Prof. Muttucumaru Sivakumar, Prof. Ng Wun Jern and Prof. Ashim
Das Gupta (L to R).

One step of this most needed transformational process is to bridge the gap between research and its application or the need to translate scientific results into concrete alternatives that promote improved quality of life, especially for the poor. Professor Ng Wun Jern, Executive Director of the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Nanyang Technological University, strongly emphasized this approach at a symposium that gathered finalists of the ProSPER.Net-Scopus Young Scientist Award in Sustainable Development.
Annually recognizing young scientists’ and researchers’ work contributions that demonstrate the impact or the potential to address pressing problems affecting local or regional communities, the ProSPER.Net-Scopus Young Scientist Award in Sustainable Development is an instrument to identify and reward researchers who go beyond their work to design, create and innovate for a sustainable society.
The award categories change every year to reach different fields, following the idea that sustainability should permeate all realms of science. In 2013, the awarded categories were Water and Transport. Winners of the award receive a cash prize and a prestigious fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for a stay of up to 18 months in any research institute of their choice in Germany.
Clean water with less energy
In the Water category, panelists[1] awarded Shi Lei, a research fellow at the Singapore Membrane Technology Center, which is part of NEWRI in Singapore. Shi Lei’s work is focused on hollow fiber membrane development, a novel technology for gas separation and liquid purification. His research follows the idea of forward osmosis, a natural process in which water passes through a permeable membrane that retains pollutants and metal ions and is captured in a high saline solution at the other side, from where it is retrieved clean. The high saline solution is then recycled to capture and retrieve clean water again. The process demands less energy for water purification and desalination; Shi Lei is even looking at the possibility of regenerating power using water pressure at the end of the process.
Dr. Shi Lei (centre) receiving his award from Elsevier Chairman
Mr. Y.S. Chi (left) and UNU Vice-Rector Prof. Govindian Parayil

Through an ongoing collaboration with Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB), the country’s National Water Agency, Shi Lei is doing tests at the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant to verify the feasibility of scaling up the implementation of this new technology. For a country like Singapore, where water is scarce and high investments have been made to establish a model water management system to secure this important natural resource for Singapore’s citizens, research dedicated to improving current processes and saving energy is extremely relevant.
This new technology based on forward osmosis for water purification also has other important applications such as portable water filters that are useful in disaster-stricken areas where drinking water may not be available until regular systems are restored. Wastewater, contaminated water from streams, flood and muddy water can be a source of clean drinking water. Theseportable filters were utilized in Haiti for earthquake victims and in flooded Western Kenya.
Upon receiving the award, Shi Lei reinforced the merit of initiatives to recognize the work of young scientists toward sustainable development, mentioning the great encouragement the award gave him in his scientific career, providing him with even stronger aspirations and dedication to more practical research work in the future, one that focuses on diversifying sustainable water supplies and closely engaging with communities. He further expressed his hope that the fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will be a precious opportunity to broaden research and networking horizons.
Green transport in China
Liangfei Xu from State Key Laboratory of Automotive Safety and Energy, Tsinghua University, was the winner in the Transport category[2]. His research focuses on dynamic modeling, optimization and control of PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) fuel cell systems, advanced powertrains for HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles), BEVs (battery electric vehicles) and FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles), automotive networks and software technologies. PEM fuel cell technology has been used in the past mainly in spaceships because of its elevated costs. However, innovations have made possible a wider application in the transport sector, for example in city buses, providing for a cleaner mode of transport and an excellent alternative to oil-fueled vehicles. Examples of PEM fuel cell technology applied in city buses have been demonstrated in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 Shanghai Expo and in the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games.
Dr. Liangfei Xu (centre) receiving his award.

Currently, Liangfei Xu’s most important work is on the optimal design and adaptive control of the PEM fuel cell powertrain systems, with the purpose to prolong its working lifetime and accelerate its commercialization in China, where a sustainable transport system is highly desirable. The number of vehicles has been increasing at the rate of 13 per cent per year and China is the second oil consumer country in the world, with around 60 per cent of the oil demand for vehicles. Therefore, improving the performance of fuel cell durability holds an impact potential to improve air quality in highly urbanized areas and to reduce the consumption and consequent dependence on oil.
For Liangfei Xu, receiving the award was an important first milestone in his academic career and an international recognition of the scientific and social impact of his research work, also providing a worldwide platform for advanced progress in the future.
From laboratories to the real world
Although in different fields, both winners are making a direct contribution to building a more sustainable society. The challenge for their research to have a greater impact is how to scale up these applied research initiatives so that a larger portion of our communities may enjoy the benefits of such innovative solutions. That is the moment when a meaningful bridge between science and policy is needed, but also society’s acceptance and contribution to absorb and utilize scientific-based knowledge for further sustainable development. Improved dialogue and systems thinking in multi-stakeholder collaborations shall be fostered in this regard, so that relevant research work can take the leap from laboratories into the real world.

[1] Professor Ng Wun Jern from NEWRI, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Professor Ashim das Gupta, Emeritus Professor, Asian Institute of Technology; and Professor Muttucumaru Sivakumar, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
[2] Panelists were Professor Lee Der-Horng, National University of Singapore; Professor Sorawiti Narupiti, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; and Professor Nuwong Chollacoop, National Metal and Materials Technology Center, Thailand.
Related links:

ProSPER.Net-Scopus Young Scientist Award