Car Pollution a Bigger Threat to Human Lives than Auto Collisions

Driving has its risks. Motorists have to be extremely careful when observing road conditions around them. Even so, there is always the risk of a collision by a negligent driver in which serious injury and even death may result. The number of collisions resulting in a fatality numbers in the thousands annually. However, while driving can be dangerous, it is not more dangerous than the smog emitted from vehicles.

According to a study published in the Environmental Science and Technology, approximately 3,300 deaths in the UK in 2005 were linked to emission sources, while deaths from direct collisions numbered just below 3,000.

The study was conducted by Steve Yim and Steven Barrett from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The research came in light of London’s violation of air quality regulations set forth by the E.U., which could result in massive penalty fees for the British government if it does not address the issue.

The study further shows that another 6,000 deaths in the country can be attributed to emissions that originated from other regions surrounding the UK. Likewise, an additional 3,100 deaths from other European countries can be traced back to emission from UK sources.

Yim and Barrett analyzed the country’s emission rates according to categories that include road transport, shipping and air, residential, and agricultural sources. Other factors like population density and wind patterns were also factored in. The research discovered that road transportation was the biggest contributor of emission related deaths. This is likely due to the fact that emission from ground vehicles occur at ground level.

While the studies pertained to the UK, other nations need to take notice as well. This is another reason the world needs to begin looking into alternate sources of power, such as wind and solar energy. Aside from human casualties, the emission is also slowly strangling the eco system. It is about time for developed nations to search elsewhere for viable energy sources.

BP Settlement in Texas

The petrol giant BP has agreed to pay to the state of Texas $50 million for air pollution violations at a refinery on the Gulf Coast where a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers.

The settlement between BP Products North America and Texas resolves 72 emissions violations between 2005 and now, Attorney General Greg Abbott said at a news conference in Houston. The violations include some which contributed to the massive explosion six years ago at the Texas City refinery.

The law settlement’s announcement comes while BP PLC struggles to resolve issues surrounding an April 2010 explosion at an offshore rigging platform that killed some 11 people and caused the largest offshore oil spill in all of U.S. history.

It also comes just a few months after the company indicated a desire to sell the Texas City refinery. The deal could make it increasingly simple for the company to find a buyer, because its pollution liabilities with the state have now been settled. In August of 2010, BP reached a $50.6 million settlement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for not correcting its safety violations after the 2005 explosion. At the time, OSHA indicated it was also trying to force the company to pay an additional $30 million in fines.

In a statement, BP said:

“BP has maintained a steady focus on improving safety and compliance at Texas City, and this agreement is an important milestone in the progress of operations at the facility…There are rules that must be followed and if you violate those rules there will be consequences…They exposed Houstonians … to poor air quality and now they’re paying the price for it.”

The settlement also resolves a high-profile 41-day benzene release in April 2010 which prompted a class-action suit by Texas City residents as well as an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This agreement however does not resolve lawsuits or investigations by other agencies.

Renewing Renewable With the IPCC

Sustainable and renewable sources like solar and wind could supply up to 80 percent of the planet’s energy requirements by 2050 as well as play a role in fighting global warming.

But the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that in order to achieve that level, governments would have to spend much more money and introduce policies that integrate renewables into existing power grids, promoting their benefits in terms of improving public health and reducing air pollution.

After a recent four-day meeting, governments endorsed the renewable report Monday. The report reviewed solar energy, bio-energy, hydropower, geothermal, ocean energy and wind. However, they did not consider nuclear, the recent nuclear accident in Japan was not mentioned nor did it have any impact on the report’s conclusions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said swift, deep reductions in use of non-renewables and non-sustainables are needed to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius) above preindustrial levels, which could trigger climate catastrophes.

Slow On the Uptake: Why the US Is Still Remitting and Emitting

It was largely looked forward to and now it’s largely disappointing; The Environmental Protection Agency was to divulge its direction this week on how power plants and refiners will be forced to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, beyond cap and trade and other propositions.

Sadly though there was an inter-agency collapse on the line of attack.

The EPA policy arrived at the White House Office of Management and Budget one month ago but has been neglected to collect desk dust.

While Federal clean air laws permit local and state officials to count cost in determining emission slashes, there has never been a de facto cost cap by the federal government.

Industry officials, feet-draggers really, are suing the EPA that such new climate legislation will wreck their businesses.

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker offered this possible explanation for Obama America’s sluggish progress in the climate Olympics:

“There are a couple of large trends that have made the task of solving this crisis more difficult. One of them is the Great Recession. And even though the solutions to the climate crisis actually offer great opportunities for building sustainable growth and reinvigorating the prospects for better living standards—both in the developed and developing countries—the forces wedded to the old patterns still have enough influence that they were able to use the fear of the economic downturn as a way of slowing the progress toward this big transition that we have to make.”

Slated to start for January 2nd, it will be compulsory for regulated sources to implement pollution controls so to win permits from local and state regulators.

The deal will spur energy efficiency requirements instead of forced fuel switching, carbon capture and storage.

Farming in Volcanic Ash

In Europe, the recent volcanic ash danger travels at high altitudes, but for Iceland’s farmers the problem is otherwise, which is to say very much on the ground.

Farmers across the region where the volcano erupted under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier have been scrambling to protect their herds from ingesting or inhaling the ash, which can cause long-term bone damage, internal bleeding, and teeth loss.
Volcanic Ash
Near Skogar, that is south of the volcano site, the ash blew down from the mountain, covering the sunlight, pastures, animals and humans in a very thick, very gray paste.

Berglind Hilmarsdottir, a dairy farmer, joined her neighbors Saturday in rounding up her cattle, some 120 in all, and getting them safely to shelter. In the panic, some of her animals got lost in the fog of ash, and the farmers had to drive around searching for them.

Hilmarsdottir said:

“The risk is of fluoride poisoning if they breathe or eat too much,” through a white protective mask…The best we can do is put them in the barn, block all the windows and bring them clean food and water as long as the earth is contaminated,”

In Iceland’s rural region near the volcano, the amount of ash has really become overwhelming. The vast majority of the country’s farming activity is based on herding cattle, horses and sheep, so as you can imagine, the stakes for farmers are quite high.

The Dangers of Tomb Sweeping in Taiwan

On Friday Taiwan’s government urged their public to stop burning incense sticks and ritual money to honor the dead and instead to opt for online worshipping as it fares better with Mother Earth.
public burning incense sticks and ritual money
The announcement by the cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration came ahead of Monday’s Tomb Sweeping Festival, when ethnic Chinese traditionally visit the grave sites of their ancestors to burn incense and paper offerings. Such practice not only worsens the island’s air pollution but also cause fires.

The statement said:

“We can now choose to pay homage to our ancestors in a modern and environmentally friendly way by worshipping online or donating the money meant for the offerings to charities.”

Taiwan who has vowed to cut its greenhouse gases to 2008 levels by the year 2020, conducted studies which found that the burning of paper money releases a large amount of carbon dioxide, benzene, methylbenzene and ethylbenzene. These chemicals contribute to global warming and can cause cancer and other diseases.

The practice, originating in Taoism, results from the belief that burning paper money, as well as everything from paper cars to paper Viagra ensures their deceased ancestors will be comfortable in the after-life.

Environmental agencies have offered to collect the paper money from households and temples to burn in state incinerators which can treat the exhaust.

4-Wheel Killers: A Quick Spin around the Block

Gas Guzzlers

“You can have a really fuel-efficient, dirty vehicle and a really clean, not-so-fuel-efficient vehicle,” says Karl Simon, a director of compliance and innovation for the EPA‘s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “It really is pretty wide open from a technical perspective.”

So-called fuel economy indeed is linked to emissions; however it is not the only factor. The amount that a car causes pollution also has to do with what kind of fuel is used and the condition and age of the engine. So just because a car which is known to be a huge gas guzzler, this does not necessarily mean that it is the worst for the environment.
The most environmentally dangerous cars on the market feature a combined poor gas mileage with a high level of tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions data to put together a list of the worst cars on the market for the environment. The cars are rated on a 1 to 10 scale. A car which scores a 10 would be the healthiest for the air.

Have a look:

Dodge Durango
Air Pollution Score: 6/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 1/10
City MPG: 9, Highway MPG: 12
Transmission: Automatic 5-speed 4WD (ethanol fuel option)

Dodge Ram 1500
Air Pollution Score: 6/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 1/10
City MPG: 9, Highway MPG: 12
Transmission: Automatic 5-speed 4WD (ethanol fuel option)

Chrysler Aspen
Air Pollution Score: 6/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 1/10
City MPG: 9, Highway MPG: 12

Mercedes-Benz S600
Air Pollution Score: 6/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 0/10
City MPG: 11, Highway MPG: 17
Transmission: Automatic 5-speed 2WD

Chevrolet Trailblazer
Air Pollution Score: 6/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 0/10
City MPG: 12, Highway MPG: 16
Transmission: Automatic 4-speed 4WD

BMW M6 Sedan/Convertible
Air Pollution Score: 6/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 0/10
City MPG: 11, Highway MPG: 17
Transmission: Manual 6-speed 2WD, select 7-speed 2WD

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Air Pollution Score: 3/10, Greenhouse Gas Score: 1/10
City MPG: 9, Highway MPG: 13
Transmission: Automatic 5-speed 2WD (with ethanol fuel)