The Environics, Inc. Post
In a recent speech, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that climate change is one of the most serious issues facing our world today and that he considers it "the greatest challenge of our generation." Following his visit to China last week, Kerry focused back on the State of the Union address by U.S. President Barack Obama, stating climate change is an undeniable fact. China, the top producer of greenhouse gas emissions, and the US will share "information and policies so that we can help develop plans to deal with the U.N. climate change negotiation that takes place in Paris next year."
The condition of the air in China has long been a source of concern, brought to the forefront during the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 65%-70% of China's energy sources comes from coal and China is second only to the United States as an energy producer. The Chinese government revised air quality standards which will progressively require cities to meet the restrictions by 2015. The standard includes 8-hour standards for ambient air monitoring of ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM) 2.5, which are considered "fine" particulates that are the most harmful. As of 2013, two thirds of cities do not yet conform to the new standard. Studies by the WHO and others show that a million Chinese die every year due to the effects of interior and exterior air pollution.
In response to the lack of willingness of the Chinese government to share detailed information, the U.S. embassy in Beijing began posting air quality measurements gathered at the embassy in real time, both on its website and through a twitter account (@BeijingAir). Chinese officials had disputed the American data, however Chinese citizens and environmental groups continued to press for data to be gathered and shared. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy visited one of the most affected cities, Shanghai, back in December. China is looking for help as the heavy pollution threatens to turn away foreign investors. McCarthy discussed shale development and the use of natural gas to reduce pollutants.
It appears that the concern of the long term effects on not addressing pollution is beginning to instigate change. Just this month, Beijing has ordered 15,000 factories to begin providing data regarding their emissions to the public in real-time. Also, China's Cabinet announced $1.6 billion in incentives has been set aside for companies that are making strides to cut their emissions. At the same time, the official Xinhua News Agency said 300 polluting factories were slated to be shut down in Beijing during 2014.
Although these are excellent first steps, it will take international collaboration to clear the air because pollution wafts in from the surrounding regions.
To learn more, check out the WHO's site on China and the US EPA Collaboration with China
image source: Shanghai Rela Time Air Quality (2/17/2014 1:55 PM EST), http://www.semc.gov.cn/aqi/home/English.aspx
The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (US EPA) recently released a series of 30 sec and 1 minute public service videos on climate change. The videos discuss small changes people can make to their daily lives that have an impact on emissions. Citizens are encouraged to reduce the amount of energy they use to both cut their own utility costs and protect their health. The cumultive effect of these small changes to the economy and environment are stressed. The series was developed in support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, released in June. In his plan, the President stressed the importance of reducing carbon pollution while simultaneously prepareing for the impacts of changes to the climate.
What do you think? Do you give thought to how your actions may impact the climate? What things do you do at work and home to minimize your carbon "footprint."
You can watch the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBhfkkujnoRAgTFtLreccWDfpxBIspCGv
On June 30, 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a revision to the Air Emissions Reporting Rule (AERR). The rule states the goal of the revisions is to "reduce reporting burden for state, local and tribal agencies, improve consistency and clarity with other rules, and better reflect current inventory technologies and practices."
The AERR was first published in 2008 as a replacement to the previous Consolidated Emissions Reporting Rule (CERR), which was published in 2002. Both regulations were created to improve the ability of the EPA to gather emissions data on a national level. The data is used to create a national inventory of air pollutant emissions. You can see this data in use and search for the conditions in your area at the EPA's MY Environment.
The improved AERR aims to grant states more flexibility on how to collect and report this emissions data. These increased permissions give the state programs the ability to operate more efficiently. To find out more visit the EPA's AERR page.
A recent article on the quality of the air in China began with this frighening statistic: Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths inin 2010, nearly 40 percent of the global total. Brought into the headlines during the Beijing Olympics, the poor quality of the air in China is nothing new.
Here in CT, we are entering the months where unhealthy air quality emerges with the heat levels this summer. The American Lung Association has released an new advertising campaign featuring TV, online and billboard ads announcing the new State of the Air® smartphone application. The app, available for iPhone and Android, allows users to view EPA collected data on the air quality at their current location or at any other location of choice. Read this post to learn more about this data. The app is being praises as a user-friendly resource for people for low air quality affects most profoundly, those living with lung disease (such as asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes and the elderly and children.
ALA of the Northeast President and CEO, Jeff Seyler, was quoted to say, “We are excited to be able to provide this innovative tool so those with lung disease, and without, can effectively monitor their local air quality and limit their exposure to dangerous levels of pollution.”
The State of the Air app provides both the current and next-day air quality forecasts. Users can set alerts to notify them when the local air quality fails to a code orange, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Along with the quality information, the app provides tips on what activities are to be avoided depending on the current conditions.
The television and online messages are aimed at young people. They feature Alvin Grimes, an air collector, who collects air samples in glass jars. The promos tie into the ALA tagline "What are your lungs collecting?" "Alvin" has his own, twitter account and facebook page where he shares tips and information on air and air pollution. The TV spots can be viewed on his youtube page (one example below).
To learn more about Ozone and how it is generated at ground level, check out this story and its follow-up piece!
Image and Video - courtesy of the American Lung Association
Yesterday at EPA Headquarters, the President's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FY 2013 budget request was announced by Administrator Lisa Jackson and her senior staff. The proposal allocates $8.344 billion, with is a reduction of $105 million from the approved FY 2012 budget. Elimination of completed programs and consolidation of others accounts for $50 million of that reduction.
In reaction to the proposal, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson echoed the President's message of "an America built to last." Jackson said, “This budget is focused on fulfilling EPA’s core mission to protect health and the environment for millions of American families. It demonstrates fiscal responsibility, while still supporting clean air, healthy waters and innovative safeguards that are essential to an America built to last.”
The EPA calls out eight key areas in the FY2013 proposed budget:
Support of States through grants to allow implementation of front line projects under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts ($1.2 billion, an increase over FY 2012)
Protecting America's Waters primarily through funding of wastewater and drinking water programs as well as infrastructure projects including green projects ($2 billion)
Contaminated Site Clean-up through funding of the Superfund Cleanup programs (both emergent and remedial), and will focus on compliance ($755 million)
Research and Innovation in the Science and Technology in a wide variety of arenas ($807 million)
Continued Support of "Economically and Environmentally Vital Water Bodies," including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay ($373 million)
Harmful Chemical assessment and risk reduction ($68 million, an increase of $11 million over FY 2012)
"Next Generation Compliance," which focuses on electronic reporting, data collection and monitoring, with a goal of cost savings, improved compliance and transparency ($36 million)
National Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards program funding to research new biofuel and renewable technologies and for compliance and certification of fuel economy and emissions, all with the goal of reducing dependence on oil ($102 million, a $10 million increase over FY 2012)
Jackson reviewed the EPA will continue to streamline so that while working with less, they can maintain the commitment to the EPA's core goals.
You can view the announcement on the EPA's site, including a brief Q&A, or read more here.
Image - Still from EPA Announcement: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20429324
Throughout Europe, initiatives have resulted in an overall improved air quality since the 1970's. Some of the main components of air pollution are particulates, ozone, NOx, hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Most generally, air quality affects the health of the population on a daily basis. Especially at risk are the very young, the elderly and those with breathing issues. In most cities, traffic related air pollution is the most common source, with industrial emissions also playing a key role.
Recently, I posted about an EPA run site that allows website visitors to view the air quality (along with water quality, etc). Today, I want to share a site which shows air quality for cities throughout Europe.
The site, Air Quality Now, also provides details on the various components of air pollution, the health threats of each and some background to the current initiatives.
When searching, you can look at historical data, today's data, or a forecast for the following day. Also of interest, you can view background or roadside data.
Click here to search for your city or nearby areas or to learn more.