Covid19: Air pollution falls sharply across the world

With global economic activity ramping down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it is hardly surprising that emissions of a variety of gases related to energy and transport would be reduced.

Scientists say that by May, when CO2 emissions are at their peak thanks to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded might be the lowest since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

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Researchers in New York told the BBC their early results showed carbon monoxide mainly from cars had been reduced by nearly 50% compared with last year.

Emissions of the planet-heating gas CO2 have also fallen sharply.

But there are warnings levels could rise rapidly after the pandemic.

An analysis carried out for the climate website Carbon Brief suggested there had been a 25% drop in energy use and emissions in China over a two week period. This is likely to lead to an overall fall of about 1% in China’s carbon emissions this year, experts believe.

Both China and Northern Italy have also recorded significant falls in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity. The gas is a serious air pollutant and also indirectly contributes to the warming of the planet.

With aviation grinding to a halt and millions of people working from home, a range of emissions across many countries are likely following the same downward path.

While people working from home will likely increase the use of home heating and electricity, the curbing of commuting and the general slowdown in economies will likely have an impact on overall emissions.

Source: BBC News

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New Year Eve warning by UK police

Police are warning people not to attend New Year celebrations on the River Thames in London without a ticket, as the UK prepares to usher in 2020.

More than 100,000 tickets have been bought for Tuesday night’s sold-out fireworks display.

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The Metropolitan Police urged those without tickets to watch from home or attend other events in the city.

Firework shows are also to be held in cities including Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Inverness and Nottingham.

And in Edinburgh, the streets of Edinburgh are filling up as an estimated 100,000 Hogmanay revellers prepare to welcome in the start of a new decade.

Celebrations began on Monday evening with thousands taking part in a pre-Hogmanay torchlight procession.

In a statement to those visiting London for the celebrations, the Met said it wanted “everyone who comes to London for New Year’s Eve to have a good time”.

However, referencing the fireworks on the Thames, the force added: “If visitors do not have a ticket, entry will not be permitted to the event, so the advice from the Met is to watch the fireworks from the comfort of your home.”

Source: BBC News

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Residential Property: Why is energy efficiency important?

Energy consumption is the amount of energy used up by a process, system or appliance – or by a country, person or business. Energy efficiency or conservation simply means using less energy, or even none at all.  Energy efficiency is playing an increasingly vital role in our lives, for three main reasons:  Environment, Health and Economy

eco-house

Major Benefits of energy efficiency

  • Significantly reduce your utility bills

As a homeowner, energy costs can make up a significant portion of your recurring monthly expenses. With energy efficient appliances and home upgrades, you can save anywhere from five to 30 percent on your utility bills. Energy efficient appliances consume less energy throughout their service lives without sacrificing quality, and are an excellent way to save on your energy expenditures.

  • Insulate yourself from rising energy prices

Utility residential energy rates fluctuate seasonally and annually, but have risen steadily in the last decade. This trend is likely to continue into the future. In addition to cutting your monthly energy bills now, conducting energy efficiency improvements on your home helps to insulate you from the financial impact of unpredictable sharp energy price increases that could happen in the years to come.

  • Energy savings tips help you easily cut costs

Energy expenses are often thought of as a fixed cost of owning a home or business, with reductions only possible through pricey renovations. However, you can easily reduce your utility bills through simple energy conservation behaviors or small energy efficient purchases. Programmable thermostats, advanced power strips, and energy efficient lighting can decrease your energy expenses with almost no effort on your part.

  • Earn a great return on your investment

Energy efficient purchases should not be viewed as an expense, but as an investment with utility savings that add up over the service life of the product. Savings can offset the initial price premium on energy efficient options, and offer a significant return in comparison to conventional, non-efficient alternatives. Furthermore, the return you pocket through savings will only increase over time as energy prices continue to rise.

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  •  Increase your property value

In the property market, energy efficient homes frequently sell for a higher price than standard homes with comparable features. Every project that increases your home’s energy efficiency adds a fraction of its cost to the final selling price a appeal. In addition, private residences with High Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating have been proven to sell at a premium compared to similar homes in the area. Coming with expectations of reduced utility bills and fewer repair bills, energy efficiency is an attractive feature in any home purchase.

  • Enhance your quality of life

By optimizing your energy use, you can increase the comfort of living in your home and, in many cases, see notable health benefits. When you conduct energy efficient measures, your home will be warmer, drier, and properly ventilated, which lowers the risk of illnesses and mold growth. Energy efficiency also prevents the buildup of indoor pollutants, a major concern in areas with high radon emissions. In fact, the financial benefits of energy-efficient buildings yield a benefit-cost ratio of over 4 to 1, and 75 percent of those benefits can be attributed to health advantages.

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  • Protect the environment and comply with legislation

Energy efficiency is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and to comply with the UK legislation and carbon reduction target. Homes were responsible for 19 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, and implementing energy efficiency measures in your home can significantly reduce your emissions contribution. The typical household can reduce its energy use (and by extension its greenhouse gas emissions) by 25 to 30 percent by investing in more efficient energy consumption. Energy efficiency help to reduce climate change and the impact carbon emissions and other pollutants have on the environment.

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Safety at Home: Carbon monoxide kills

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless, non-irritant gas, killing 50 people each year in the UK and making hundreds more seriously ill.

CO poisoning occurs when gas-fired appliances such as boilers, cookers and fires are not operating correctly. With research indicating that nearly a quarter of UK homes have one or more defective gas appliance, it is vital your appliances are checked regularly.

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If your boiler is more than 10 years old or has been infrequently serviced in the past, you really should get it checked by a Gas safe registered engineer. Fitting a European standard certified audible carbon monoxide alarm is a vital second line of defence after having  your appliances safety checked. It is essential that your alarm is marked with the EN50291 safety standard and with the CE mark.

Vital signs and symptoms to look out for CO poisoning include:

  • Sooting and staining on or around your gas boiler or other gas appliances.
  • Excessive condensation in the room where an appliance is installed.
  • A lazy, yellow-orange gas flame instead of blue.
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea and can be mistaken for flu, a virus and even food poisoning.
  • Breathlessness
  • Lost of consciousness

For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning visit http://www.hse.gov.uk

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Experts links Killer diseases such as cancer to air pollution in UK

The UK’s failure to meet World Health Organisation standards limiting the amount of ultra-fine particles in the air represents a major danger to health that is only now being recognised, experts claim.

Studies published this year link the particles to cancers, lung and heart disease, adverse effects on foetal development, and poor lung and brain development in children. They are considered a key threat to health because they go deep into the lungs and then reach other organs, including the brain. But European standards allow the levels of particles in the air to be 2.5 times higher than those stipulated by the WHO.

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Professor Annette Peters, director of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, said Europe – and the UK – urgently needs to introduce tougher standards. She said: “Particles are a major and invisible danger to our health, especially in London and our big cities.

The US has a standard of 12 micrograms of ultra-fine particles per cubic metre, while the WHO standard is 10 micrograms.

“We [the UK and EU’s limits] are currently at 25 micrograms per cubic metre – double the US standards,” said Peters, who warned that scientific evidence confirming the threat they pose to human health “has really strengthened this year”.

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“We initially had evidence of the effect on the lungs and heart, but now we also have evidence that it alters the metabolism as well as impacting the brain.

Vehicle emissions are predominantly to blame, but domestic heating systems and industrial pollutants are also factors. “Recent studies from London and our work in a medium-sized community in southern Germany show there really is evidence that the ultra-fine particles go beyond the lungs,” Peters said.

Source: The Guardian 

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Greta Thunberg named the youngest ‘Person of the Year’ by Time magazine

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who inspired a global movement to fight climate change, has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

The 16-year-old is the youngest person to be chosen by the magazine in a tradition that started in 1927.

Time magazine cover with Greta Thunberg

Speaking at a UN climate change summit in Madrid before the announcement, she urged world leaders to stop using “creative PR” to avoid real action.

The next decade would define the planet’s future, she said.

Last year, the teenager started an environmental strike by missing lessons most Fridays to protest outside the Swedish parliament building. It sparked a worldwide movement that became popular with the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.

Since then, she has become a strong voice for action on climate change, inspiring millions of students to join protests around the world. Earlier this year, she was nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Source: BBC News

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Climate Change: Greenhouse gas emission breaks new record

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases once again reached new highs in 2018.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the increase in CO2 was just above the average rise recorded over the last decade.

Levels of other warming gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, have also surged by above average amounts.

Since 1990 there’s been an increase of 43% in the warming effect on the climate of long lived greenhouse gases.

The WMO report looks at concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere rather than just emissions.

The difference between the two is that emissions refer to the amount of gases that go up into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal for electricity and from deforestation.

Concentrations are what’s left in the air after a complex series of interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans, the forests and the land. About a quarter of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the seas, and a similar amount by land and trees.

Using data from monitoring stations in the Arctic and all over the world, researchers say that in 2018 concentrations of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million (ppm), up from 405.5ppm a year previously.

This increase was above the average for the last 10 years and is 147% of the “pre-industrial” level in 1750.

Source: BBC News

 

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Marathon runners to be disqualified if they drop plastic

Runners at north Wales’ largest running event were warned they would be disqualified if they dropped litter during the race.

Organisers of Sunday’s Conwy Half Marathon said the measures had been introduced as plastic was becoming an “increasing problem”.

Runners run past water bottles as they take part in the 2016 London Marathon in London

The Run Wales website said runners would also be “taken off the results if seen discarding their rubbish outside of a water stop or not with a marshal”.

The race is now in its eleventh year, and about 3,000 runners is expected to take part.

Organisers have not yet said if anybody was disqualified following the race, which started in front of the town’s castle.

This looks like the best solution to littering during marathon race. What do you think?

Source: BBC News

 

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Climate change: Airlines putting profit before planet through “Fuel tankering”

A British Airways whistleblower has revealed an industry-wide practice that deliberately adds weight to flights, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Fuel tankering” sees planes filled with extra fuel, usually to avoid paying higher prices for refuelling at their destination airports.

It could mean extra annual emissions equivalent to that of a large town.

BA said it was common to carry extra fuel for “operational, safety and price reasons”.

BBC Panorama has discovered the airline’s planes generated an extra 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide last year through fuel tankering.

John Sauven, Greenpeace UK’s executive director, told the BBC this was a “classic example of a company putting profit before planet”.

He added: “This is why we can’t afford another decade of believing corporate greenwash and waiting for the voluntary carbon reductions to appear.

“We need tough regulations to limit aviation’s emissions, because so long as there’s money in polluting, they’ll pollute as much as they can.”

Source: BBC News