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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Carbon dioxide output jumps to record level in 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The world pumped up its pollution of the chief man-made global warming gas last year, setting a course that could push beyond leading scientists' projected worst-case scenario, international researchers said Thursday.

A thick haze covers Jakarta, Indonesia, where carbon dioxide emissions are rising rapidly.

A thick haze covers Jakarta, Indonesia, where carbon dioxide emissions are rising rapidly.

The new numbers, called "scary" by some, were a surprise because scientists thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output jumped 3 percent from 2006 to 2007.

That's an amount that exceeds the most dire outlook for emissions from burning coal and oil and related activities as projected by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007.

Meanwhile, forests and oceans, which suck up carbon dioxide, are doing so at lower rates than in the 20th century, scientists said. If those trends continue, they put the world on track for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.

The pollution leader was China, followed by the United States, which data show is the leader in emissions per person in carbon dioxide output. And although several developed countries slightly cut their CO2 output in 2007, the United States churned out more.

Still, it was large increases in China, India and other developing countries that spurred the growth of carbon dioxide pollution to a record high of 9.34 billion tons of carbon (8.47 billion metric tons). Figures released by science agencies in the United States, Great Britain and Australia show that China's added emissions accounted for more than half of the worldwide increase. China passed the United States as the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter in 2006.

Emissions in the United States rose nearly 2 percent in 2007 after declining the previous year. The U.S. produced 1.75 billion tons of carbon (1.58 billion metric tons).

"Things are happening very, very fast," said Corinne Le Quere, professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey. "It's scary."

Gregg Marland, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said he was surprised at the results, because he thought world emissions would drop because of the economic downturn. That didn't happen.

"If we're going to do something [about reducing emissions], it's got to be different than what we're doing," he said.

The emissions numbers are based on data from oil giant BP PLC, which show that China has become the major driver of world trends. China emitted 2 billion tons of carbon (1.8 billion metric tons) last year, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.

"We're shipping jobs offshore from the U.S., but we're also shipping carbon dioxide emissions with them," Marland said. "China is making fertilizer and cement and steel, and all of those are heavy energy-intensive industries."

Developing countries not asked to reduce greenhouse gases by the 1997 Kyoto treaty -- China and India are among them -- now account for 53 percent of carbon dioxide pollution. That group of nations surpassed industrialized ones in carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, a new analysis of older figures shows.

India is in position to beat Russia for the No. 3 carbon dioxide polluter, Marland said. Indonesian levels are increasing rapidly.

Denmark's emissions dropped 8 percent. The United Kingdom and Germany reduced carbon dioxide pollution by 3 percent, while France and Australia cut it by 2 percent.

Nature can't keep up with the carbon dioxide from man, Le Quere said. She said that from 1955 to 2000, the forests and oceans absorbed about 57 percent of the excess carbon dioxide, but now it's 54 percent.

What is "kind of scary" is that the worldwide emissions growth is beyond the highest growth in fossil fuel predicted just two years ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

Under the panel's scenario then, temperatures would increase by 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 to 6.3 degrees Celsius) by 2100.

If this trend continues for the century, "you'd have to be luckier than hell for it just to be bad, as opposed to catastrophic," said Stanford University climate scientist Stephen Schneider.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fishermen in a panic after tarballs wash up on beaches

Say these balls are an indication of deliberate oil spillage by tankers that has been killing marine life along the coast

Huge balls of tar washed up along the coast of Bordi (near Dahanu), Kelwe (Palghar), Pachubandar, Kalamb (in Vasai), Arnala (in Virar), Uttan (Bhayandar) in the past few weeks have got local fishermen extremely worried. Fishermen say the tarballs are indication of a deliberate oil spillage from huge tankers at mid-sea and also means that the fish are dying because of it.
    "Fishermen are very worried as there is a drop in the marine catch due to the oil spillage," said Rambhau Patil, president, Maharashtra Machimar Kriti Samiti (a fishermen welfare association). "Ever since the season commenced from August 15, the catch has reduced considerably because the fish have been dying after becoming trapped in the oil," added Suresh Tare, a fisherman from Satpati, a fishing village, near Virar.
    Tarballs are formed when saline water is mixed with oil (common during the monsoons) and during high tide these tarballs are deposited on the beaches. Earlier, very few and very small tarballs were washed up, but of late, the quantity and size have increased, said Patil. He has directly blamed the spillage on huge tankers that deliberately discharge oil mid-sea to lighten their load.
    He has complained several times to the Maharashtra Maritime Board and other agencies to check the menace, but no action has been taken. After similar tarballs were seen in the above areas in 2005, scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur along with the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board, checked tarball samples. They said hydrocarbons in the tarballs were very low and did not cause much damage to the environment or to marine life. However, Patil says if tarballs do not have low hydrocarbons, how come when they are lit there is a huge ball of fire. He has demanded another study.

Tarballs (Inset) are formed along the coast due to the mixing of saline water with oil



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do not pump full tank of petrol

Many of us are not aware that the petrol kiosk pump has a return pipe-line (in Pink ). When the petrol tank (in the car) reaches full level, there is a mechanism to trigger off the pump latch and at the same time a return-valve is opened (at the top of the pump station) to allow excess petrol to flow back into the sump. But the return petrol has already pass through the meter, meaning you are donating the petrol back to SHELL/CALTEX/ MOBIL/ PETRONAS

Click Here To Join 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

[Ways2Insurance] Now, register for a free terrorism cover

For full article Click Here 

MUMBAI: IN the wake of rising terrorist threats across the country, click2insure.in — a portal launched by Optima Insurance Brokers in alliance with New India Assurance Company, a leading public sector non-life insurance provider — is offering a terrorism cover free of cost. 

   


Eddie Izzard  - "Never put a sock in a toaster."


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Clifford Stoll  - "The Internet is a telephone system that's gotten uppity."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

THE MISSING LIFELINE

The govt must put in place an effective disaster management mechanism to control a spate of natural calamities, says Shantanu Nandan Sharma

 IT WAS October 5, 1968. The Kosi river in Bihar played havoc as 9 lakh cusec of water was discharged in one day alone. Forty years later, the survivors of flood fury in north-eastern Bihar are returning to their homes without fully knowing how a repeat of such discharge in a day can ruin them altogether. 
    The sudden diversion of the Kosi's course last fortnight already inundated huge tracks of Supaul, Madhepura, Araria, Purnea and Saharsa districts, traditionally nonflooded pockets of Bihar's annual monsoon fury. The flood, which has killed over 50 persons and impacted over 30 lakh people in 1,700 villages in the state, has forced the Nitish Kumar government to realise that the impact of the Kosi's change of course would have been much less if officials of the traditional flood belt of the state were posted there. 
    Yes, experience counts a lot during disasters, but India can't afford to adopt unscientific disaster management modules to minimise impacts of repeated natural calamities. For a couple 
of days, flood victims in Bihar had no clue what to do, and more importantly what not to do. The Centre swung into action, but it was too late to stop the menace. By the time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertook an aerial survey along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the 11th day of the tragedy and announced an immediate release of Rs 1,000 cr, large-scale damages were already witnessed. 
    But a bigger tragedy for the country is its inability to put in place an effective nation-wide disaster management mechanism to contain impacts of natural calamities. If Indian-American Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal could ensure an immediate evacuation of people in 
response to hurricane Gustav, why can't Lalus and Nitishes fail to deliver the same on a scientific manner? In Bihar, the state administration must share the blame for its failure to meet the unexpected challenges, but the problem is actually rooted in the lack of proper mechanism to deal with such a situation. 
    Bihar's disaster management secretary Pratyaya Amrit agrees that the flood came as a shock to the administration, but they finally tamed it. "Technology has been a big help in tackling this flood. Our officials in the area were not that experienced to face such a flood fury. However, we got into action immediately. We managed to have the satellite images of the flood-hit areas which helped a lot in undertaking many logistics decisions," he explains. 
    Significantly, the ministry of home affairs has a dedicated wing called national disaster management, but analysts say it's grossly inadequate to face major disasters in a vast country like India. But the question here is how long India will wait to bring in scientific modes of disaster management. According to official figures, floods in India this year alone has affected 1.8 cr people with a death toll of over 1,700. The damage to crop, houses and public properties are estimated to be Rs 1,850 cr officially, though the unofficial figure will be much higher than that. 

    As India is still not catching up with the developed countries in adopting disaster management strategies effectively, the losses are mounting. Former industry minister and exchairman of river inter-linkage project Suresh Prabhu says if India fails to move fast, the phenomenon of global warming could spell doom further. "Because of the climate change, the intensity and frequency of natural calamities are bound to rise. It has already been scientifically proven that we will now see a huge amount of rainfall during a very short span of time which will lead to flash floods. In this backdrop, proper wa
ter management is critical and challenging," Prabhu explains. 
    Although the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government initiated a mammoth project to link rivers in India at a guesstimated Rs 1,58,000 cr, the UPA government almost made it non-functional. The idea behind the project was to emulate China and link the rivers in such a way that excess water of one river basin could be diverted to another basin, thereby minimising the chances of both severe flood and drought. 
    The implementation of such a gigantic project would not have been so easy either, as people from many flood-hit states protested against the possibility of taking away water from their states. Assam is a classic example where there were sporadic protests against such a move. But the question is whether there could be a proper mechanism to divert excess water during monsoon and use it in water-deficient states. Till the end of August this year, about 800,000 people from 11 districts in Assam were impacted by flood, and 14 persons lost their lives so far. And it has been an annual phenomenon. 
    This year, the major flood in Assam's 
Lakhimpur district was caused by the release of excess water by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh. There were no warnings till the damage was already done. Whereas it was a clear example of lack of coordination within India, there were instances in which Chinese flood warning from across the border could help the most. Jamshyd N Godrej, chairman of Godrej & Boyce, says what's needed now is proper co-ordination among various agencies. "It is not a very difficult task as well. All it requires is co-ordination among various disaster management organisations and agencies. We must enter into cross-country corporations with neighbouring countries in order to manage situations such as the recent Bihar flood which originated in Nepal," Godrej adds. 
    In fact, corporate India has always played an important role in tackling natural calamities, but it was mostly confined to giving donations. However, India Inc has initiated some serious work to meet such challenges. Construction major HCC, for example, has sent a team of engineers for relief and support work in flood affected areas of North Bihar. HCC chairman Ajit Gulabchand adds, "We have 26 trained engineers who are supposed to work without border. They help people during natural calamities. Ten of them are now working in Bihar. India Inc now gets itself involved in disaster management in a more meaningful way," he adds. 

    Yet, unless disaster management is taken more seriously by the government, India will regularly lose its resources. Prabhu asks, "For a long time, we have talked about creating a disaster management authority equipping it with power and resources so as to fight calamities. Where's the authority?" 

TOLL TRAIL 
FLOOD DAMAGE 2008 
BIHAR 
Population Affected 
30,65,000 
No. of human lives lost 
54 
Total value of damage (in Rs lakh) 
364.32 
ANDHRA PRADESH 
Population Affected 
44,28,100 
No. of human lives lost 
130 
Total value of damage (in Rs lakh) 
94882.19 
ASSAM 
Population Affected 
7,92,500 
No. of human lives lost 
14 
Total value of damage (in Rs lakh) 
9656.7 
GUJARAT 
Population Affected 
17,20,167 
No. of human lives lost 
81 
Total value of damage (in Rs lakh) 
22.87 
ORISSA 
Population Affected 
15,14,836 
No. of human lives lost 
26 
With inputs from Shobhana Chadha




Marcel Marceau  - "Never get a mime talking. He won't stop."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Biogas Fuels Big Ambitions

Biogas Fuels Big Ambitions

"Give us things that will help us run engines with local resources. Diesel and petrol prices are killing us farmers," said Ram Karan. I sat listening intently to him at his farm on the very fringes of Ranthambore National Park. The majority of farmers here who do not have access to electricity spend anywhere between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 1 lakh onRam Karan's Tractor engine being fueled by biogas/diesel mixdiesel to run generators to irrigate their farm lands. Imagine that amount of money instead being put towards a decentralized renewable energy source to sustain their livelihoods."Give us solar, we are willing to pay!" he said. "I know that there are even solar powered pumps out there."Solar pumps have been questioned for their efficacy especially where ground water levels have dropped severely—and they have in this part of Rajasthan. I was doing a survey on the local biogas plant dissemination project by a local NGO, the Prakratik Society. Though a technology around since the 1970s and considering one of the most abundant decentralized resources available to rural India being livestock, it is unfortunate that not much more research and development has gone towards its advancement. My survey revealed more than just a drastic reduction in fuel-wood consumed by villagers owning the biogas plants (50-100% drop by 100% of the households surveyed): some of the villagers are fueling some of their ambitions in rather unique ways with this old technology.

On this morning, Ram Karan was running his tractor engine with a mix of diesel and the gas generated by his biogas plant. The two cylinder tractor engine used to run the pump usually consumes 2.5 liters of diesel in one hour, but with a mix of biogas, it consumes diesel at a rate of 1.5 to 1.75 liters an hour. The only draw back was the limited amount of gas generated by the 3 cubic Biogas Plant, Karoli Tara-chand villagemeter biogas plant being sucked out more quickly by the hungry engine. Still, it reveals the scope of larger sized biogas plants in meeting additional needs of villagers beyond cooking. The problem with larger plants (those with greater width and depth) being the higher likelihood of cracks developing in the tank—which render plants completely useless. "If we could get enough gas to run an 8-10 horse power engine to pump water, and perhaps some for additional electricity generation, we would be all set!" He touted. Further down the road, a dhaba had been set up near the roadside. "I opened up this dhaba soon after getting my biogas plant," stated Janki Lal."Business has been good [as was visible during my short chai break] and it is so much easier to operate using gas as opposed to wood. But I want my lamp as well!" He was referring to the gas lamps the Prakratik Society used to disseminate with the plants earlier on which failed because of lack of proper infrastructure in place for replacement parts.

One of my final stops was at Ameen's house. He had a large family and ambitions to match the size. "I want to have several biogas plants, or perhaps a few large ones. I will get nearly 10 artificially inseminated hybrid cows [scaling up from the 2 he had currently]. I am going to stop farming and start a dairy," he stated confidently. His cattle will be stall fed by the fodder he will be planting instead. It will including the "sul babul" tree which grows quite well in this climate and grows rapidly.The native cows are artificially inseminated with the semen of high-milk yielding Jersey cows with help of Prakratik Society. With nearly 50% of the respondents (from 7 different villages surrounding the park) claiming they would be willing to take on bank loans to finance more biogas plants, perhaps its time the advancement of this technology take precedence to meet the ambitions of the people. "The jungle is disappearing, so you need to make these plants everywhere," stated Ram Karan—revealing a true grasp of the human-wildlife conflict that is plaguing the countr


 

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