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Found 7 results

  1. In new estimates released this week, the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives. In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas. Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution. Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children’s Health, said: “Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly. Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.” Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, underlining that the vast majority of air pollution deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases as follows: Outdoor air pollution-caused deaths – breakdown by disease: 40% – ischaemic heart disease; 40% – stroke; 11% – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); 6% – lung cancer; and 3% – acute lower respiratory infections in children. Indoor air pollution-caused deaths – breakdown by disease: 34% – stroke; 26% – ischaemic heart disease; 22% – COPD; 12% – acute lower respiratory infections in children; 6% – lung cancer. The new estimates are based on the latest WHO mortality data from 2012 as well as evidence of health risks from air pollution exposures. Estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were formulated through a new global data mapping. This incorporated satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements and data on pollution emissions from key sources, as well as modelling of how pollution drifts in the air. Risks factors greater than expected Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, says: “The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.” After analysing the risk factors and taking into account revisions in methodology, WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves. The new estimate is explained by better information about pollution exposures among the estimated 2.9 billion people living in homes using wood, coal or dung as their primary cooking fuel, as well as evidence about air pollution’s role in the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancers. In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide. Many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Due to this overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply be added together, hence the total estimate of around 7 million deaths in 2012.
  2. Driving can have a hugely negative impact on your carbon footprint, and while we all strive to reduce our personal drain on the environment, there are some things we struggle to do without. While you work toward a world that lives in harmony with earth, there are some things you can do to reduce your car’s carbon footprint. Share a Car Most families have more than one car, and more often than not, each car is intended for the transportation of one person at a time. Getting rid of one car and sharing the other can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. If life with one car is not doable right now, try to carpool as much as possible and save the other car for emergencies only. Trade Up Trade in your gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient green vehicle. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll be saving money on gas as well. Check out the EPA’s site on green vehicles to help you make the best choice for your family. Drive More Sensibly The better you drive, the less gas you waste. Instead of hitting the gas, accelerate slowly and maintain a steady speed. That also includes not driving faster than you need to. These simple tips can improve your gas mileage by 33%, not to mention make the road safer for you and others. Maintenance Proper maintenance can also improve your carbon footprint. Simple acts like getting an engine tune up from a company like Natrad can keep your car running smoothly and keep it from emitting more CO2 than it should. Take it a step further and replace all of your filters at least once a year. Air Up Airing up your tires and keeping them inflated to the proper level can increase your fuel efficiency and save over 400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Roll Down the Windows Instead of cranking up the air, roll down the windows. Not only will this reduce your fuel consumption, but it will increase your happy mood. A little fresh air and vitamin D does good for the mind and body. So many people live by the idea that, if we can never reduce our carbon footprint to a completely sustainable level, we shouldn’t bother trying. While it may be true that some pollution is inevitable, it is also true that we can make a difference and lessen the global impact one step at a time—and the first step is making eco-friendly choices in your own home.
  3. The concept of airless tires has been around for ages, in fact, Michelin has been developing this concept since 2005. It is only just recently that airless tires have become a readily available to the average consumer. Hankook recently announced that their airless tires should “hit the market very, very soon.” So, what exactly is an airless tire? Also known as non-pneumatic tires, airless tires are those not supported by air pressure. While they are usually used in certain lawnmowers and golf carts, airless tires are now being created for regular vehicles as well. Previously, there have been certain disadvantages associated with airless tires. For one, these provide much less suspension than regular pneumatic tires. Also, they lead to a lot of heat buildup. However, with developing technologies, these disadvantages have been severely minimized. Currently the benefits of using the modified airless tires far outweigh the disadvantages. Bridgestone’s airless tires, that are currently being developed, sport a unique spoke structure that is easily able to support passenger vehicles. Perhaps the largest advantage of these airless tires is that they are environmentally friendly, made with 100 % recyclable material. According to Bridgestone, “No part of a non-pneumatic tire ever needs to go in the garbage, which goes hand-in-hand with Bridgestone’s effort to create a “cradle-to-cradle” system in which all tires are first recycled and then factory-refashioned into new tires.” Furthermore, these tires promise reduced carbon emissions. You might wonder how tires can play an active part in reducing emissions. Well, a significant part of energy loss that comes from tires rolling resistance is due to changes in the shape of regular tires as they roll. Airless tires seem to promise a much simpler structure, leading to fewer changes in shape and thus reducing emissions. In terms of production too, Hankook, another airless tire brand claims that the production of these tires is halved from the production of normal pneumatic tires. This means that the footprint left behind due to trie production is also lessened, further supporting the sustainability and eco-conscious aspect of these tires. From a practical standpoint too, airless tires nullify the possibility of flat tires. This makes sense, as these tires cannot leak since there is really no air to be leaked! This means that drivers won’t have to worry about running over a sharp object, and tire change frequency will be visibly reduced. All in all, airless tires are a revolutionary concept in auto-production. With increased functionality and a much more positive impact on the environment, we are excited for these tires to hit the market, and soon become the accepted norm!
  4. How can manufacturers reduce emissions on an industrial level? Industrial companies in the United States must figure out creative ways to stop emitting so much carbon dioxide when they produce their goods. Helping the environment helps everyone. And the companies don't have to spend more money. Their profits will remain high even if they pay more attention to their carbon dioxide emissions. The following changes will make the biggest difference on the emissions at the industrial level. Annual Direct Reporting Knowledge produces power. When the companies know how much carbon dioxide they emit, they know how much of it they can eliminate from their processes. A new law took effect in 2010 that now requires companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year to report their numbers directly to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This will allow companies to see how much they emit and take steps to reduce their emissions. It will also help the creation of future laws. Smarter Recycling Though recycling has increased greatly over the past 40 years, too much waste exists. People participate in recycling more now because most areas of the country feature recycling that sorts the materials for the people. Company-sorted recycling encourages more participation, but it also leads to more waste. Some products, such as paper, become contaminated during the recycling process. And some of that paper can't function as recycled material any longer. It's time for people to take charge and keep the items separate for recycling. NOx / CO Control Solutions Overall industrial greenhouse gas emission can be significantly reduced with the use of low-NOx/CO control solutions. The emissions produced by common industrial equipment and appliances, including boilers and gas turbines, can be lowered with emissions-reducing technology without increasing operating costs. A specialist from Nationwide Boiler says strict emission requirements can now be met without sacrificing performance and productivity, thanks to new emissions control technology. Simpler Piping Small companies can't benefit much from obvious solutions such as wind turbines and solar panels. But they can invest in straighter pipes. When water moves from one pipe to another, it needs a certain amount of power to do so. The water pump system uses a lot more energy to transfer the water through pipes that feature tons of twists and turns. Industrial companies can save a lot of power and emissions by simplifying their piping schemes inside warehouses and other facilities. Co-generation Many industrial sites could produce both heat and electricity at the same time if they chose to do so. This process, known as co-generation, can save plenty of carbon dioxide emissions. Industries such as oil refining, chemical synthesis, and steel making can benefit from co-generation. They only need recovery tubes and simple turbines to convert heat energy into electricity. The battle against carbon dioxide rages on. Emissions standards constantly change to reflect the growing concern over public health and the health of the environment. Some simple changes will make a great impact of industrial companies wish to initiate these important changes.
  5. UK housing is amongst the least energy efficient homes in the whole of Europe. Running a fully-functioning home accounts for nearly half of the UK’s yearly carbon emissions. Housing is so poorly insulated that a third of all UK homes (6.7 million) are rated E or worse on their energy performance certificate, meaning they have a low standard of energy efficiency. Not only are Britain’s poorly insulated homes having a negative impact on the environment, but also on their inhabitants’ standard of living. According to recent research, the UK comes bottom of a fuel poverty league table for Western Europe and figures from 2011 revealed that a quarter of the people in question were living in fuel poverty, amounting to a grand total of 4.5 million homes. As UK homes are so poorly insulated, any in the house heat is lost very quickly, meaning that Brits are spending a small fortune on energy bills and are essentially burning cash to stay warm for only a short period of time. With energy prices substantially increasing this year, many simply can’t afford to heat their homes during the cold winter months, forcing them into fuel poverty. For example, British Gas has increased their gas prices by a staggering 8.4% and its electricity prices by 10.4% in recent years. The older generation are among the worst suffers of fuel poverty with Age UK estimating that 1.7 million older people in the UK cannot meet the expense of heating their homes, and over a third (36%) of older people in the UK say they try to spend a majority of their time in a single room to save money. This can cause major health issues and up to 24,000 older people could die in the cold during the winter months. With conditions in UK housing becoming rather serious, the Government has already made a conscious effort to help reduce household bills, reduce carbon emissions and improve the general standards of living. For instance, the Green Deal was introduced at the beginning of 2013, with the objective to encourage household’s to take out loans to cover the cost of making their homes more energy efficient. However, the scheme hasn’t been as effective as hoped – the government aimed to convert 10,000 homes into the scheme for 2013, when actually there was not one live deal in the first half of the year in spite of 241 household’s agreeing to the funding. Therefore, the question is what else can be changed to develop the efficiency of homes within the UK? One of the major issues is the fact that so much of Britain’s housing in the UK is relatively old, and therefore the UK would benefit from newer housing which has less impact on the environment, such as the new generations of manufactured homes like mobile homes and park homes. Mobile housing is popular in the U.S and according to research carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of housing can save up to 55% of energy when compared to a house without energy efficient facilities and appliances. Furthermore, Omar Homes a company that provide mobile homes and park homes, are built with ‘being green’ in mind. The homes can be built with water heat pumps, solar photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps. Therefore, taking this into consideration; could more manufactured housing be the answer to helping Britain become more green? The manufactured housing industry has already seen considerable interest towards mobile and static housing. For example, companies like Harvey Longsons, who focus on static caravans for sale have seen outstanding results in recent years. Conversely, if more mobile housing communities were more available it could also help solve the problem of fuel poverty for the ageing population, as these types of communities are often a suitable lifestyle for retirement. The retiree can be surrounded by similarly aged neighbours and have communal activities more available to them. As opposed to elderly people continuing to live in their family home, (which can often be s too large for their needs, and are not cost efficient), perhaps if they had the option, more retirees would move to manufactured housing communities that will not only save them money on energy prices and provide them with a more fulfilled lifestyle, but will also significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
  6. Which kitchen appliances you should use in order to minimise greenhouse gas emissions is not as straightforward as you would expect. In fact, whether you should choose gas or electric depends completely on where you live and how your local power plant produces electricity. Cooktops As we can see in the below table (courtesy of etool.net.au), gas cooktops yield almost 8 times more greenhouse gas emissions compared to induction cooktops in Sweden, where renewable energy sources produce the bulk of the country’s total energy. In Australia, where coal burning is the major source of electrical energy, cooking with gas cooktops result in about one third of the emissions as cooking with an induction cooktop would yield, even if the transfer of energy is less effective. At the same time, induction and gas delivers instant heat, while electric elements take longer time to heat up to the desired temperature, leading to further wastage of energy, meaning that cooking with a traditional electric element would result in even higher greenhouse gas emissions Ovens When it comes to ovens, it is a similar story, with gas ovens in Sweden resulting in about 4 times higher levels of emissions when compared to an electric oven. In Australian states that rely heavily on coal burning, the use of gas oven result in up to one fifth of the emissions as an electric oven. It is no wonder that gas fitters in Australia have plenty of work on their hands. General tips to save energy when cooking Regardless of your choice of appliances, there are some steps we can all take to minimize energy usage when cooking. Trap the heat Putting a lid on the saucepans will trap the heat in the pan which would otherwise rise up and escape, which can halve the time involved in bringing water to a boil. And when it is first boiling or simmering, a lid on the saucepan will enable you to turn the heat down, saving even more energy. Also ensure that the oven seal is in a good condition and not letting unnecessary heat out, and minimise the amount of times you open the oven door to inspect the food. Size matters Choose the right size saucepan or frying pan for the job. The bigger the saucepan is, the more energy is required to heat the contents. Choose as small as saucepan as you can for the job. Saucepans with flat bases will also have a better connection with the hot plates than a rounded base, meaning that less energy will be wasted. Overcooking Whether you are boiling, frying or roasting, overcooking meat and vegetables does not only reduce the satisfaction of the meal, it wastes energy. Cook your food just right and turn the heat off as soon as you can, and you will enjoy a better meal while saving energy. Consider purchasing a roasting thermometer for roasting meat, to easily check when the meat is cooked to your liking. Microwaves Microwaves use far less energy to cook or heat the food. However, microwaving as a cooking alternative results in less than satisfactorily results in most cases. Though microwaves are great for reheating purposes for some types and food, and also boiling rice.
  7. Emissions shrank rapidly during the recession, then bounced back slightly as the economy recovered. But shifting market conditions, pollution regulations, and changing behaviors are also behind the decline. Oil is the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. After a steep drop following the 1979 oil crisis, emissions from oil climbed steadily until 2005, when they peaked at 715 million tons of carbon. Since then, these emissions have fallen by 14 percent, or 101 million tons of carbon - the equivalent of taking 77 million cars off the road. (See data.) Oil is mostly used for transportation, so vehicle fuel efficiency and the number of miles driven determine the amount of emissions. On both fronts things are improving. Average fuel efficiency, which had been deteriorating for years in the United States, started to increase in 2005 and keeps getting better. Americans are traveling farther on each gallon of gas than ever before. Furthermore, people are driving less. For many years Americans as a group drove billions more miles each year than the previous one. But in 2007 this changed. Now more cars stay parked because more people live in urban areas, opt for public transit, work remotely, or retire and thus no longer commute to work. Coal - the dirtiest fossil fuel - has dominated the U.S. power grid, but its grip has weakened in recent years. As the price of natural gas has fallen, utilities are dropping coal. They are also deciding to retire old, inefficient coal plants and invest elsewhere rather than pay for retrofits in order to meet increasingly stringent pollution regulations. Strong grassroots work, too, is helping to close the curtain on coal even faster. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, which coordinates efforts across the country to retire old plants and prevent new ones from being built, tallies 149 coal plants that plan to retire or switch fuels out of more than 500. As falling natural gas prices, pollution regulations, and shrinking electricity demand reduce coal use, U.S. carbon emissions from coal have fallen 20 percent from their peak in 2005. Meanwhile, natural gas consumption for electricity generation and heating has increased. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning natural gas hit an all-time high of 373 million tons of carbon in 2012, up 17 percent above 2006 levels. They are projected to remain at that level in 2013. Natural gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal does. With domestic production on the rise, the share of carbon emissions from natural gas are likely to continue to increase. But electricity does not have to come with a huge carbon hangover. Wind and solar power - carbon-free energy sources with no fuel costs - have been taking off. U.S. wind power capacity has more than tripled since 2007 and now produces enough energy to power over 15 million homes in the United States. Solar power capacity, starting from a smaller base, increased 14-fold in the same time period. Although wind and solar power currently account for only a small share of total energy production, their prices will continue to drop as deployment increases. In some areas wind is already cheaper than coal. This is just the beginning of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as the explosive growth of wind and solar power cuts down the use of dirty fossil fuels. The switch to renewables cannot come soon enough. Accumulating greenhouse gas emissions from the United States and other countries have led to a global temperature increase of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since the Industrial Revolution. Higher emissions will lead to higher temperatures that will bring more heat waves, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. In 2009, President Obama set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Putting a price on carbon would help accelerate the trends that are cutting the United States' carbon contribution and allow the country to exceed this goal. By Emily E. Adams. For more information on the U.S. transition to wind power, see "Iowa and South Dakota Approach 25 Percent Electricity from Wind in 2012," by J. Matthew Roney. Photo credit: freefotouk (cc).