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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The poor are suffering deleterious effects of unbearable heat..

A 2017 news report said that over 4000 people died due to heat related injuries over the past four years, in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana alone. The actual heat related injuries and deaths are far more as causes other than the direct reasons like heat stroke and dehydration are seldom accounted for. For instance, dehydration also leads to respiratory and renal failure, especially for those who are prone to heart and kidney ailments. In 2010, Ahemdabad recorded 65 deaths due to heatwave, but in the same period, there were 800 more deaths. Reportedly, various states are developing strategies to minimize deaths.  

A study of deaths during a heatwave in ahmedabad in 2010 found that there had been 43 % more deaths than the reference period in another year. The estimate of additional deaths in the heat wave in france in 2003 also range from 20-50 % for various cities.

Joyashree Roy, an economist at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, found that already, most days in the summer are too hot and humid to be doing heavy physical labor without protection, with wet-bulb temperatures far exceeding the thresholds of most international occupational health standards.

And yet, walk through the city on a stifling hot day in June, and you’ll find people pedaling bicycle rickshaws, hauling goods on their heads, constructing towers of glass and steel. Only a few people, like herself, Dr. Roy pointed out, are protected in air-conditioned homes and offices. “Those who can are doing this. Those who can’t are becoming worse,” she said. “The social cost is high in that sense.”

Given that all cause mortality figures run into 10 million a year in india, increased mortality during the summer season as temperatures climb still higher, could result in hundreds of thousands of extra deaths.

A study said that the chance of a wet-bulb temperature above 34°C occurring in India, China, and the Amazon is greater than 33% and the chance of a wet-bulb temperature above 35°C occurring in those same areas is greater than 15%. Since those areas are very densely populated, the annual exposure to wet-bulb temperatures of 35°C or higher could be approximately one million person-days.

Another study found that 75 percent of the population of South Asia will experience extremely dangerous heat waves by 2100 if no action is taken to fight climate change. Four percent will experience unsurvivable heat — that’s 69 million people at today’s population level.

It's not just about the heat... it's about how many people are poor, how many are old, who has to go outside to work, who has air-conditioning.


The compiled report of six newspapers of Orissa noted 1470 deaths and 1662 injuries in the year 1998-99 due to severe heat wave. Evidences of heat wave incidences available from different parts of India, e.g., Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, clearly indicate that most mortality took place outdoor, among those who live at poverty threshold.

Urban and rural poor who can not afford shelters even with minimum living quality, and those living alone and can not afford access to cooling systems are at higher risk of adverse health effects from extreme heat exposures. In rural India, for example, there are evidences of influences of tropical heat on the prevalence of tropical diseases - prevalence of malaria, iron deficiency in sugar cane cutters, anaemia among tea pluckers, farmers, tobacco and coir workers, suggesting that a large working population are already in pathological state.

In a study in 2009, during the month of May and June, people in most Gujarat districts were limited by the prevailing climatic conditions to tolerating70 to 90 min or less for habitual exposures. Tolerance time of people in the districts of Ahmedabad, Anand, Banaskantha, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Mehasana, Patan, Rajkot and Surendranagar appeared to be markedly less during the summer months. Relatively, however, Surat, Amreli and Kachch were more comfortable regions to live in.

Acknowledgement : This section is sourced entirely from this study

Researchers find future temperatures could exceed livable limits

Researchers calculated the highest tolerable "wet-bulb" temperature in 2010 and found that this temperature could be exceeded for the first time in human history in future climate scenarios if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. These temperatures haven't been seen during the existence of hominids, but they did occur about 50 million years ago, and it is a legitimate possibility that the Earth could see such temperatures again. 

Humans at rest generate about 100 watts of energy from metabolic activity. Wet-bulb temperature estimates provide upper limits on the ability of people to cool themselves by sweating and otherwise dissipating this heat, he said. In order for the heat dissipation process to work, the surrounding air must be cooler than the skin, which must be cooler than the core body temperature. The cooler skin is then able to absorb excess heat from the core and release it into the environment. If the wet-bulb temperature is warmer than the temperature of the skin, metabolic heat cannot be released and potentially dangerous overheating can ensue depending on the magnitude and duration of the heat stress.

"The wet-bulb limit is basically the point at which one would overheat even if they were naked in the shade, soaking wet and standing in front of a large fan."

"Whole countries would intermittently be subject to severe heat stress requiring large-scale adaptation efforts," Huber said. "One can imagine that such efforts, for example the wider adoption of air conditioning, would cause the power requirements to soar, and the affordability of such approaches is in question for much of the Third World that would bear the brunt of these impacts. In addition, the livestock on which we rely would still be exposed, and it would make any form of outside work hazardous."

Acknowledgement : The above text has been entirely extrapolated from this article.

In the absence of measures to reduce carbon emissions, these heat waves could strike regions in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as early as 2050. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

India's rising temperatures are already deadly..

India is now two and a half times more likely to experience a deadly heat wave than a half century ago, and all it took was an increase in the average temperature of just 0.5 degrees Celsius, a 2017 study shows.

The findings are sobering considering that the world is on track for far more warming. Last year, a record high of 53.5 degrees C was set in the southwest Pakistani city of Turbat.

Even if countries are able to meet the Paris Agreement goals in curbing climate-warming carbon emissions, that would still only limit the global temperature rise to an estimated 2 degrees C.

The study shows that while India's average temperatures rose by more than 0.5 degrees C between 1960 and 2009, the probability of India experiencing a massive heat-related mortality event—defined by more than 100 deaths—shot up by 146 percent.

The study also found that the number of heat wave days increased by 25 percent across most of India. Areas in the south and west experienced 50 percent more heat wave events, or periods of extreme heat lasting more than three or four days, in 1985-2009 compared with the previous 25-year period.

India is already seeing new deadly highs. Last year in May, India recorded a record 52.4 degrees C in the western city of Jaisalmer.

The vast majority of India's 1.25 billion people are poor and have few options as temperatures hit sweltering levels, drying forests and riverbeds and wiping out farm animals. Very few have the protection of air conditioning.

Most in India rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and climate change is likely to hurt their crops.

Many who work as farmers or in construction will have to shorten their work days by 2-3 hours within four decades, simply because it will be too hot outdoors, according to a 2016 report by the U.N. Environment Program.

Most Indian cities and states are not prepared to handle more heat, even if they understand the devastation it can wreak. In 2010, some 1,200 people died in a heat wave in the western city of Ahmedabad, prompting city officials to introduce seven-day weather forecasts, extra water supplies and cool-air summer shelters.

After more than 2,500 were killed in heat-ravaged areas across India in 2015, nine other cities rolled out a plan to educate children about heat risk, stock hospitals with ice packs and extra water, and train medical workers to identify heat stress, dehydration and heat stroke.

But the nine cities cover only about 11 million people, not even 1 percent of the country's population.

Without action, climate change could devastate South Asia..

In South Asia, research of 2017 at MIT suggests that by the end of this century climate change could lead to summer heat waves with levels of heat and humidity that exceed what humans can survive without protection.

The study shows these deadly heat waves could begin within as little as a few decades to strike regions of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, including the fertile Indus and Ganges river basins that produce much of the region’s food supply.

The study follows an earlier report by Eltahir and his team that looked at projected heat waves in the Persian Gulf region. While the number of extreme-heat days projected for that region was even worse than for South Asia, Eltahir says the impact in the latter area could be vastly more severe. That’s because while the Persian Gulf area has a relatively small, relatively wealthy population and little agricultural land, the areas likely to be hardest hit in northern India, Bangladesh, and southern Pakistan are home to 1.5 billion people. These areas are also among the poorest in the region, with much of the population dependent on subsistence farming that requires long hours of hard labor out in the open and unprotected from the sun.

While the projections show the Persian Gulf may become the region of the worst heat waves on the planet, northern India is a close second, Eltahir says, and eastern China, also densely populated, i
s third. The highest concentrations of heat in the Persian Gulf region would be seen over water and not land, unlike in the Indo-Gangetic plains where the brunt will be borne on inhabited land.

The new analysis is based on recent research showing that hot weather’s most deadly effects for humans comes from a combination of high temperature and high humidity, an index which is measured by a reading known as wet-bulb temperature.
The internal temperature of the human body is maintained at 37 degrees Celsius, while the temperature on the surface is around 35 °C. Sweating is the key process to this constant temperature modulation and the ability for moisture to evaporate is affected by heat and humidity. At a wet-bulb temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, the human body cannot cool itself enough to survive more than a few hours.

A previous study of temperature and humidity records show that in today’s climate, wet-bulb temperatures have rarely exceeded about 31 C anywhere on Earth. While the earlier report from Eltahir and his colleagues showed that this survivability limit would start to be exceeded occasionally in the Persian Gulf region by the end of this century, actual readings there in the summer of 2015 showed that the 35-degree wet-bulb limit had almost been reached already, suggesting that such extremes could begin happening earlier than projected. The summer of 2015 also produced one of the deadliest heat waves in history in South Asia, killing an estimated 3,500 people in Pakistan and India.

The study shows that by century’s end, absent serious reductions in global emissions, the most extreme, heat waves would increase from wet-bulb temperatures of about 31 C to 34.2 C. “It brings us close to the threshold” of survivability, he says, and “anything in the 30s is very severe.”

In today’s climate, about 2 percent of the Indian population sometimes gets exposed to extremes of 32-degree wet-bulb temperatures. According to this study, by 2100 that will increase to about 70 percent of the population, and about 2 percent of the people will sometimes be exposed to the survivability limit of 35 degrees. And because the region is important agriculturally, it’s not just those directly affected by the heat who will suffer, Eltahir says: “With the disruption to the agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer.”

Heat waves over the last decade have been seen to cause more mortality among urban rather than rural Indians. One of the reasons for this is the work routine of Indian farmers which keeps them indoors during the hottest hours of the day. In cities, on the other hand, heavy concentration of concrete and glass along with limited natural cover increases temperature, creating the heat-island effect. Studies have found that by 2100, cities could get up to as much as 8°C hotter than current levels! This, combined with the typically round-the-clock physical labour in cities, has caused heavily disproportionate mortality in cities rather than in the country side.

Studies looking at heat waves in Ahmedabad found that spikes in mortality correlate with spikes in temperature. The case has been made that the actual number could be much higher since the National Crime Record Bureau only records death by heat strokes as a heat wave-associated death. This could also be the reason for the huge discrepancy in the number of deaths associated with the disastrous 2003 heat wave that struck Europe and killed over 70,000 and the 2015 Indian heat wave in which 2,241 people died. Both the events were of comparable duration and intensity.

The decadal mean of daily maximum temperature for April and May in the 2010s is 40 to 42 degrees over large parts of India. In the 1950s, the area with this high temperature was limited to only a small spot in south-central India touching 41 degrees. The region with temperature over 40 degrees began to expand in the 1970s and 1980s. The region with temperatures exceeding 41 degrees has expanded, and a region with temperatures greater than 42 degrees has appeared in south-central India in the 2010s, the study has found.

But while the study provides a grim warning about what could happen, it is far from inevitable, Eltahir stresses. The study examined not just the “business as usual” case but also the effects under a moderate mitigation scenario, which showed that these dramatic, deadly effects can still be averted.

Acknowledgement : sourced entirely from this article.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

When South Asia is warmer by 2C....

A 2 C warmer world maybe with us as soon as 2030.

In a 2 C warmer world, the high mountains of Asia will lose 36 % of their glacial mass.

Extreme rainfall events in South Asia will increase by 50%

Average temperature in Asia will have risen by 3 C.

Summer length in South Asia will increase by 55 days.

The frequency of extreme heat events in South Asia will go up 4 times.

In a 2 C warmer world, the number of heat waves in india will increase by 9 times. Their duration will increase 3 times. The population exposed to such harsh temperatures will be 15 times more.

The population affected by river flooding in India will go up by nearly six times.

India has been reporting one drought every three years in the last few decades. The length of an average drought in South Asia will go up by two months in a 2 C warmer world.

In a 2 C Warmer World....

In a 2C warmer world, the summer season will be longer by 35 days and hot days will increase by 25 %.

In a 2 C warmer world, 37 % of the world's population will face a severe heatwave once every 5 years.

Warm extremes over land will increase 300 % in a 2 C warmer world.

Droughts will last longer by an average of 4 months..

Extreme precipitation events have been increasing by 1–2% per decade. Frequency of rainfall extremes over land will have increased by 36 % in a 2 C warmer world.

In a 2 C warmer world, average drought length is expected to increase as is the no. of people exposed to water scarcity and severe drought.

Drought management in most parts of the world is still reactive, responding to drought after impacts have occurred. This approach – commonly referred to as crisis management – is known to be untimely, poorly coordinated and disintegrated.
As a result, past attempts to manage drought disasters have been ineffective and its economic and social impacts have increased significantly worldwide. Indeed, because of their long-lasting socioeconomic impacts, droughts are by far considered the most damaging of all natural disasters.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

If we stop our emissions today, we won’t go back to the past

In 2017, there’s been a stunning decrease in Antarctic sea ice, reminiscent of the 2007 decrease in the Arctic.

What would happen to the climate if we were to stop emitting carbon dioxide today, right now? Would we return to the climate of our elders?
The simple answer is no. Once we release the carbon dioxide stored in the fossil fuels we burn, it accumulates in and moves among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land and the plants and animals of the biosphere. The released carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Only after many millennia will it return to rocks, for example, through the formation of calcium carbonate – limestone – as marine organisms’ shells settle to the bottom of the ocean. But on time spans relevant to humans, once released the carbon dioxide is in our environment essentially forever. It does not go away, unless we, ourselves, remove it.

In order to stop the accumulation of heat, we would have to eliminate not just carbon dioxide emissions, but all greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide. We’d also need to reverse deforestation and other land uses that affect the Earth’s energy balance (the difference between incoming energy from the sun and what’s returned to space). We would have to radically change our agriculture. If we did this, it would eliminate additional planetary warming, and limit the rise of air temperature.

A scientist writes : "As a professor of climate and space sciences, I teach my students they need to plan for a world 4℃ warmer. A 2011 report from the International Energy Agency states that if we don’t get off our current path, then we’re looking at an Earth 6℃ warmer. Even now after the Paris Agreement, the trajectory is essentially the same. It’s hard to say we’re on a new path until we see a peak and then a downturn in carbon emissions.

If we stop our emissions today, we won’t go back to the past. The Earth will warm. And since the response to warming is more warming through feedbacks associated with melting ice and increased atmospheric water vapor, our job becomes one of limiting the warming."

Acknowledgement : Sourced entirely from this link.

A focus on fossil fuel emissions reduction as the primary solution to reversing climate change will continue to be ineffective

Replacing snow covered land with trees that absorb more sunlight in northern countries can actually accelerate warming regionally, creating a positive feedback loop that leads to further loss of highly-reflective snow and ice.

Climate researchers often suggest that the greatest potential for carbon sequestration in forests lies in the tropics; avoided deforestation, forest restoration and afforestation in these regions can play a significant role in mitigating global climate change.

Grassland biomes constitute approximately 40% of the global land surface area and possess massive potential for sequestering carbon in arid and semi-arid areas of the world. Healthy grasslands provide habitat for a biologically diverse range of plant and animal species, and also serve as a large reserve for soil carbon. Grasslands that sustain abundant stores of SOC have higher rates of water infiltration and retention and are less susceptible to environmental degradation such as soil erosion and drought. Although grasslands are currently facing desertification around the globe, proper land management can restore vegetation cover to protect soils from erosion and enhance the carbon sequestration capacity of these vital ecosystems.

While forests and dryland ecosystems contain the most soil carbon globally, the carbon density of wetland ecosystems is three and six times that of forests and grasslands/shrublands, respectively. The deep organic-rich soils of coastal wetlands contain carbon reserves that have been sequestered over millennia. These tidal ecosystems are able to store large quantities of carbon for two primary reasons: high-nutrient conditions that promote the rapid growth of carbon-sequestering plant biomass, and anaerobic soils that suppress microbial decomposition in the water-logged environment, allowing for long-term carbon storage. Tidal saline wetland ecosystems, including salt marshes and mangrove swamps, exhibit remarkable rates of below ground biomass production and enormous capacity as carbon sinks.

Conclusion : A focus on fossil fuel emissions reduction as the primary solution to reversing climate change will continue to be ineffective. Arbitrary goals to reduce emissions by 10, 30, 50 or even 80 percent are not going to prevent future warming. Basic scientific principles dictate that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will not decline without a significant rise in the carbon sequestration mechanisms of the biosphere. The good news is that there is enormous carbon sequestering potential in multiple ecological systems around the globe. The only question now is whether we will work to enhance the carbon storage capacities of nature or effectively continue to weaken them.

Acknowledgement : Text sourced entirely from this link.

Worst-case global warming predictions are the most accurate, say climate experts

A recent study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4 C by the end of this century.

Based on a “business-as-usual” scenario in which emissions continue at the same rate, present climate models range in their predictions from a 3.2 C increase in global temperatures till the end of the century to a 5.9 C increase.

The new study, published in the journal Nature, sought to resolve this situation and establish whether the upper or lower estimates are more accurate.

To do this, Dr Caldeira and his collaborator Dr Patrick Brown reasoned that the most accurate models would be the ones that were best at simulating climate patterns in the recent past. Their conclusion was that models with higher estimates were more likely to be accurate, with the most likely degree of warming 0.5 C higher than previous best estimates.

This video from the Yale School says that carbon emissions are likely to double from pre-industrial levels by about the middle of the century. The average global temperature may then be closer to 4 degrees, the video implies..

Scientists recently estimated that the time lag between a carbon dioxide emission and the maximum warming response is a decade on average. This is an important finding as it indicates that the full climate damages expected to occur in response to a CO2 emission will already be felt by the generation responsible for those emissions. Conversely, the relatively short response timescale implies that CO2 emission cuts implemented today have the potential to influence the rate of warming in the short term. Thus, their finding corroborates the notion that the rate of warming over the next decades is not inevitable, but will be determined by future CO2 emissions

Friday, October 26, 2018

Water Resources in Singapore and India..

Singapore gives priority to building reservoirs and catchments to collect as much natural water as possible. According to the government, water catchment areas now cover two-thirds of Singapore’s surface area, up from half in 2011.

According to Indian government data, the average annual per capita water availability fell 15% between 2001-2011. 

It’s predicted to fall another 13% by 2025 and 15% again by 2050, which means that in another 30 years each Indian household will have about 1.1 million liters of water per year, down from 1.8 million liters in 2011. (A country is considered to be suffering from water scarcity when availability is less than 1 million liters per capita per year.)

India’s country-level cost of carbon is the highest..

For the first time, researchers have developed a data set quantifying what the social cost of carbon -- the measure of the economic harm from carbon dioxide emissions -- will be for the globe's nearly 200 countries, and the results are surprising.

Although much previous research has focused on how rich countries benefit from the fossil fuel economy, while damages accrue primarily to the developing world, the top three counties with the most to lose from climate change are the United States, India and Saudi Arabia -- three major world powers. The world's largest CO2 emitter, China, also places in the top five countries with the highest losses.

The social cost of carbon includes lower agricultural yields, vector borne disease, reduced worker productivity due to heat, increased frequency of extreme precipitation resulting in infrastructure damage, etc. The combination and interaction of all these factors translate into an observed effect on the country’s economy as a whole.

India’s country-level cost of carbon is the highest (US$86 per tonne of CO2), 21% of the Global Social Cost of Carbon; followed by the United States and Saudi Arabia (US$47-48 per tonne of CO2); 11% each of the Global Social Cost of Carbon.

This translates to a cost to the US economy of about $250 billion (€215 billion) per five billion metric tons of CO2, which is what the country emits each year. However these impacts are not included in market prices, whereby consumers of fossil fuel energy do not pay for and are unaware of the true costs of their consumption.

India pumps out just 6 percent of global greenhouse gases and will bear more than 20 percent of the global economic burden from climate change.

India's emissions crossed 2.5 billion metric tons of C02 in 2016. By the logic of the study quoted above, I calculated that the losses to the indian economy every year due to climate change would be nearly 10 % of our GDP (2.5 million tons of Co2 X 86 USD per ton = 215 billion USD).

Indeed that is about the economic damage reported by the newspapers a month ago. 8 % exactly if you take the GDP figure of 2611 billion USD for 2017 for India. To put this in perspective, 210 USD billion is 8 times what the coal scam cost india. A book estimated that public officials in India may be cornering as much as 1.26 per cent of India's GDP through corruption. The damage to the economy because of rising Co2 emissions is over six times what corruption is costing us every year !

And the scenario gets worse : when the other green house gasses (such as methane) are taken into count, india's emissions even back in 2012 were 3 million metric tons of Co2 equivalent. The Indian economy was smaller then at 1828 USD billion. My estimate is that the damage to the indian economy from all greenhouse gasses that year would have been equal to 14 % of the economy (3 million tons of Co2 X 86 USD per ton = 258 billion USD).

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Intensity of sandstorms is increasing across the world...

Intensity of sandstorms is increasing across the world. As the climate gets warmer the temperature gradient is going to become steep. This steep increase in temperature gradient will lead to two things – heat waves and sand storms.

With the rise in global temperature the soil is going to become drier. So, the amount of soil that wind can carry is also increasing. With both the intensity of the wind and dryness of the soil increasing, the intensity of dust storm is going to further increase in the future.

Dust storms and thunderstorms are a result of nearly similar weather conditions, like intense heat. Areas that have the moisture in air experience thunderstorms while those which don’t have moisture experience dust storms. 

These events happen between March to May period only. In pre-monsoon period temperatures are very high around 44-45 degree Celsius and leads to such activities.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau data, compared to other natural disasters like cyclone, floods or heat waves, lightning kills more people in India. For instance, at least 25 percent of the 10,510 accidental deaths attributable to forces of nature in 2015 were due to lightning. The number of deaths due to lightning has constantly remained over 2,000 every year since 2005.

It really is simple to keep your dry, recyclable wastes separate...

It really is as simple as this photograph from my kitchen : 

1. Hang a big bag where people in your home can easily see it - near the kitchen waste bin. 

2. Train YOURSELF first to throw that tea packet, the milk satchet, the pen you had to throw away, into this big bag - not in your kitchen waste bin. 

3. When you are getting the hang of it yourself after a few days, speak to family members and your maid. 

4. They will surely keep forgetting the first few days, so check the kitchen bin every now and then and you will find plastics and paper in it. Remind the person who forgot, to retrain his / her hands.. it really is simple.

Various commonly thrown articles from households and shops include plastics, PET bottles (in which you buy water, coke, neembu pani), milk satchets and cardboard. In August this year, such used materials were being sold by ragpickers for between 10-30 rs. a kg. Before demonetization, PET bottles sold for 45 rs. a kg. 

This chain of recyclers exists in all parts of our country, from ragpickers to waste agreggators to bulk re-sellers, and finally the industrial units which use the recycled material to manufacture products. For example, the T Shirts that the Indian cricket team wore in the World Cup in 2015, were made from recycled plastic bottles.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There is no comparison even...

Someone had asked me about the lifecycle emissions of solar power compared to power generated from fossil fuels..

This study summarized 21 previous studies from reputed sources, nearly all done in the first decade of this century..

These are its astonishing conclusions :

There is no comparison even between fossil fuels and non-fossil-fuel sources of  Co2 emissions per gigawatt hour.

I know composting isnt easy

All put together I have composted wet wastes from our kitchen for a year. I now hope to continue for many years, helped by the simple system worked out by Prakashji.

But what I have done for 17 years is to keep wastes segregated. All it takes is to hang a big bag next to your kitchen waste bin. Train your hands and mind to throw all paper, plastic, metal, glass waste into this bag, not into your kitchen bin.

Ofcourse you have to train your family members and maids also. It takes not more than a fortnight for the hands and mind to get habituated to putting these dry, recyclable wastes into the big bag. All milk satchets also go into this bag. In my home we add a little water to the satchet to take out all remnants of milk after pouring it out into a kitchen container.

Put out this recyclable, dry waste big bag out to the collector only when it is absolutely full and you cannot squeeze in more. Tie a firm knot to the top of this big bag before giving it to your waste collector. Even if your colony or city does not collect wastes segregated (as most in India dont), this big bag will be snapped up by ragpickers for recycling.

You will have seen ragpickers go through mixed waste on dumpsites to seperate waste that can be sold. They wont need to go through trash to recycle your waste, and it will sell for a much higher value than soiled waste from the mixed garbage dump.  

Are you unnecessarily contributing to global warming by not keeping your waste segregated ?

Solid wastes generate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and small amounts of nitrous oxide. The global warming potential of methane is 25 times as much and nitrous oxide, 298 times as much as that of carbon dioxide.

Disposal of mixed waste including biodegradable matter (sometimes as high as 60 per cent) in dumpsites across India provides a perfect anaerobic environment for generation of methane and leachate. One tonne of biodegradable waste releases 0.84 tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions if left to decompose anaerobically (in the absence of oxygen when buried in deep pits).

The volume of waste sent to the landfill sites can be reduced if biodegradable waste is processed locally to produce compost. Compost helps store carbon back in the soil. Its usage reduces the need for chemical fertilisers which emit large quantities of nitrous oxide — both during production and in application— and thereby helps mitigate emissions. Compost also improves moisture retention in the soil. We are losing out on mitigation through composting because at most only two per cent of the municipal solid waste in India is composted.

Recycling of dry waste also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the energy required to manufacture a product using virgin materials is higher than when using recycled materials. While India has had a tradition of recycling paper, glass, metals, etc with the engagement of the informal sector, lack of segregation comes in the way of realising the full potential of recycling.This is particularly true for paper that soils easily when waste is mixed. As a result, only 27 per cent of paper in India is recycled, compared with 60 per cent in Japan and 73 per cent in Germany. Recycling requires up to 50 per cent less energy compared to production of paper based on wood pulp, and it also saves trees from being cut.

India's power sector is not out of the woods yet..

By the end of calendar year 2015, despite poor hydro electricity generation, India had become a power surplus nation with huge electric power generation capacity idling for want of power demand.  Due to tepid growth in electricity consumption, coal stocks are continuously building up at power stations as well as coal mines.

Yet in 2018, Telengana was not getting 2000 MW of power that had been contracted to be given to it. And in Karnataka, 'As a power crisis looms large in Karnataka in the wake of acute coal shortage, chief minister H D Kumaraswamy Tuesday said the Centre was not allocating the state’s share of coal despite repeated requests.'

Many coal plants are unable to get the coal they need from Government owned Coal India. Financially stressed government owned power boards are unable to do long term power purchase agreements with the coal plants, making them financially unviable. As much as USD 65 billion is tied up in stressed assets in coal plants which could cripple indian banks. 

In light of these developments, a number of coal plant developers have decided to abandon projects. The Global Coal Plant Tracker suggests that 573 GW of coal plants in India have been canceled between 2010 and June 2018. 

As of March 2018, 65 % of the installed capacity for power generation in india was fired from fossil fuels, and the rest from renewables and nuclear power. 

At the same time the solar generation scenario looks far from rosy duty to a mess in the policies. Recently, a series of pre-bid meetings and repeated extensions of the bid submission deadline have not yielded the desired response from solar developers to the Solar Energy Corporation of India’s manufacturing-linked tender for 10 GW of PV power. which would be 10 % of the the national target of 100 GW of solar by 2022

As an aside, U.S. coal-producers have been hard hit by the decline in coal used to generate electric power, which has fallen from 48 percent of the U.S. generation mix in 2008 to 28 percent today. U.S. coal production has dropped 35 percent in that same time period.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

India's situation vis-a-vis Co2 emissions..

This amazing graphic shows that as of early april 2017, just 10 countries were emitting 75 % of the current CO2 emissions, India at no. 4 ! The graphic treats the EU as one country and in many respects it behaves like one.

In 2015, just 13 % of the energy used by the world was not sourced from fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are dominant in the global energy mix, supported by $523 billion subsidies in 2011, up almost 30% on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables.
In India in 2016, just 7 % of the total energy use was drawn from non-fossil fuel sources. Over 60 % of the Indian population used solid fuels (wood, charcoal, coal, etc.) for their energy needs in 2016. A 2016 paper says that traditional energy sources such as biomass account for over 26% of India’s total primary energy consumption. That is more than India’s consumption of oil, which stands at 24%.

A sizeable quantum of energy requirements (40% of total energy requirement), especially in the rural household sector, is met by non-commercial and traditional energy sources, which include fuelwood, crop residue, biomass and animal waste, including human and draught animal power. 

Biomass is a renewable energy source and its use for energy generation is carbon-neutral fuel. It is carbon neutral because it would also release global warming green house gasses like methane and carbon dioxide when it is left to degenerate without using as energy source. In 2009-'10, over 80 % of Indian rural households and nearly 20 % of urban households, used biomass for cooking. Nearly a third or more of urban households in four states used biomass for cooking : Orissa, Kerala, Bihar and MAdhya Pradesh. 

Over half the world's energy use was consumed by industry in 2012. Half that by transport and 20 % by residential and commercial applications. 

68 percent of India’s emissions between 2005-2013 came in from the energy sector. Within the energy-sector, about 77 percent emissions come from electricity generation.

Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion.[1] In autumn and winter months, large scale crop residue burning in agriculture fields – a low cost alternative to mechanical tilling – is a major source of smoke, smog and particulate pollution. A 2013 study on non-smokers has found that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans.

Making compost in 50 days from Day 1 of putting wet waste in the compost bin !

Khad (compost) from our compost box has been working well since about March 2018. No food waste is now given out to trash. Our earlier knowledgeable farmer housekeeper said it was as good as gobar ki khad (cow dung manure).

We are sold the composting bin by a local industrialist as part of his philanthropic work, for about 250-300 rs. a set, as I recall : 1. a re-used industrial bin which has been perforated on all the sides including top and bottom. 2. a bag of coco-peat which comes from the coconut tree. 3. a panja to turn the waste with.

Close up of the perforations in the compost bin..

Here's our kitchen waste, ready to be put into the composting bin. we leave out only narial ka khol (coconut shell), aam ki gitak (mango seed) etc. as they would take too long to compost. Those are bagged and put out to the waste collector when bag is full. but they are not mixed with dry waste such as paper, plastic, rubber which is easily sale-able and collected in a big bag until brimming full, then tied a knot on and put out. We dont use plastic bags as lining for kitchen waste. cut newspapers do the job perfectly well.

When starting out a new bin, one puts two fist-fulls of the coco-peat at bottom.
One empties the wet waste bin in the composting bin. one then washes and leaves the wet waste bin to dry. the second wet waste bin, already washed and put to dry the previous day, is put in the kitchen.
One then adds a fistful of coco-peat to the wet waste.
One mixes the coco-peat into the wet waste using the panja provided. one closes the bin cover. at our place, the bin is full in about 20 days. the wet waste in the  is then given a good mix up with the panja and left to the side somewhere where too much rain cant get into it. In about a month, it looks mature and black the way you saw in the first image.

we then normally put the compost in our plant pots and kyaris where it composts further. you can turn the soil a bit to hide it if you like.  We dont need to dry the compost as you saw in the first picture. we were drying it this time only to use it like the coco-peat bag - so one need not source coco peat again and again. one can just use the dried compost as a base layer and then to add a fist full everytime you put wet waste in the composting bin.

so at our rate of generation of wet wastes (two of us + 1-2 staff + guests over perhaps once a week), we need three compost bins which we have. but a family with less number of people to cater to, would still need two compost bins if they dont want to throw any wet wastes out, which we dont.

What does Carbon Neutrality Mean ?

sorry i forgot to expand on what the key term means : Carbon neutral, also called carbon neutrality is a term used to describe the action of organizations, businesses and individuals taking action to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as each put into it. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to achieve a zero carbon footprint.

For example, a business may plant trees in different places around the world to offset the electricity the business uses. This practice is often called carbon offset or offsetting. But the best practice for organizations and individuals seeking carbon neutral status entails reducing and/or avoiding carbon emissions first, so that only unavoidable emissions are offset.

California is a world leader in fighting climate change..

I had noticed headlines saying china was taking far reaching steps for climate change and was becoming a world leader in that area. Among the headlines was this one in 2017 : China is to stop or delay work on 151 planned and under-construction coal plantsBut then I read through a recent article that said china was actually on track to add 25 % to its existing capacity to mine coal ! Given China has about half the world’s coal power capacity, the country’s coal policies have an outsized effect. This development is threatening to “seriously undermine” global climate goals, researchers have warned.

But I also read great news : In Sep this year, California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order calling for the entire California economy to become carbon-neutral by 2045. That is a big deal - California's economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world's fifth largest.

Brown’s executive order directs the California Air Resources Board to work with relevant state agencies to develop a framework for implementation and accounting of progress toward statewide carbon neutrality. While state agencies can figure out a plan to achieve carbon neutrality, the state legislature will have to pass laws to implement that plan.

California cap-and-trade program, launched in 2013, is one of a suite of major policies the state is already using to lower its greenhouse gas emissions. California’s program is the fourth largest in the world, following the cap-and-trade programs of the European Union, the Republic of Korea, and the Chinese province of Guangdong.  In addition to driving emission cuts in one of the world’s largest economies, California’s program provides critical experience in creating and managing an economy-wide cap-and-trade system.

Transportation accounts for the biggest chunk of Califonria's emissions at 41%. Brown has been pushing for a transition to electric cars, signing another executive order earlier this year setting a goal of 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

Agriculture and forestry account for another 8% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. The state is already launching a Healthy Soils Initiative to increase carbon sequestration via farming. For example, one pilot project is monitoring how much carbon will be stored by clover planted between trees at an almond orchard. The University of California at Davis is also conducting experiments to evaluate how changing livestock feed can reduce methane emissions from cattle.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

How Hot Will it Get ?

  • Delhi will, in a few years' time, be nearly 4 degrees hotter than it was in the 1940s, and 5.6 degrees C hotter by 2050.
  • By 2030, Delhi will get nearly 40% less rain than it does now. 
  • For Mumbai, a 1-1.4 degree increase in minimum temperatures and a 10-14% increase in extreme rainfall is projected by 2030. since the region already experiences heavy rainfall, even a  small increase could make a huge difference. Mumbais location below high tide level and only 10 to 15 m above sea level makes it more vulnerable. High tides could contribute to making an excess rainfall event into a disastrous one, as it did on 26/7. And rising sea level aggravates the danger.
  • By the turn of the century, 80 % of indias population will experience temperatures that are dangerous or un-liveable. The most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural Indo-Gangetic river basins. 
  • Extreme heat puts pressure on essential services such as energy, transport, and health. During the 2016 heatwave, India’s hospitals received twice as many patients as usual.
  • A heat wave struck the normally hot city of Ahmedabad in May, 2010, and temperatures soared to 48 Celsius. They resulted in a 43 percent increase in mortality, compared to the same period in previous years.
  • Since then some governments aided by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, have put in place simple measures. In Ahmedabad, for instance, city-funded vans distribute free water during the hottest months. In the eastern coastal city of Bhubaneswar, parks are kept open in afternoons so outdoor workers can sit in the shade. Some cities that had felled trees for construction projects are busy trying to plant new ones.
  • In Ahmedabad, city funds have been used to slather white reflective paint over several thousand tin-roofed shanties, bringing down indoor temperatures. In Hyderabad, a similar effort is being tested. A pilot project by a team of engineers and urban planners covered a handful of tin-roofed shacks with white tarpaulin. It brought down indoor temperatures by at least two degrees, which was enough to make the intolerable tolerable.
  • The economic fallout of higher temperatures will be immense since the large majority of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. The decline in agricultural output will endanger the region’s food security. 
  • Heatwaves are an economic drain. They can cut goods and services outputs by more than 20 percent in sectors such as manufacturing and construction.

  • At the all-India level, an energy shortfall of 5 % is expected by 2030.
  • By 2050, rising temperatures could sharply diminish the living standards of a third of India's population.