Russia remains skeptical of UN report on Syria

September 17, Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was called into question the findings of a UN report that confirmed a chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed hundreds of people last month, suggesting the event was a “provocation” by anti-regime forces and calling for a wider investigation.

After a meeting in Moscow with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Lavrov’s comments were made and these represent Russia’s first public reaction to the report.

It was released on Monday. It determinedly established the use of chemical weapons however stopped short of passing on blame.

After what Russia has gone trough criticism for its perceived sheltering of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, it has repeatedly rebuffed Western allegations that his government deployed chemical weapons.

“We have the most serious grounds to believe this was a provocation,” Lavrov said, according to the RIA Novosti state news agency. “And some of our partners have unequivocally stated that only the regime could have used chemical weapons, but the truth must be established.”

He added that there was no information about where the weapons were made, and insisted on an “impartial, objective, professional investigation of the events of August 21.”

It is just then, Lavrov said, should a course of action be decided in the UN Security Council, where Russia has blocked several Western resolutions on action over the crisis.

Additional reports from GlobalPost: Elton John to play Moscow concert despite Russia’s anti-gay law.

Previous weekend, a negotiation between Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about a plan to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons to international control and have them destroyed within a year.

Some observers have showed doubt over the plan, with their opinion that the sheer manpower it requires makes it unrealistic.

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Fewer resources, greater stress, more disasters: Climate change linked to violence among people and societies

 

A world becoming warmer and experiencing more droughts and other climate-connected disasters is apt to bring about a considerable upsurge in fierce conflicts between individuals as well as whole societies, a major study has revealed.An analysis of 61 in-depth cases of violence has shown that personal clashes and wider civil conflicts grow considerably in number with significant changes to weather patterns, such as rising temperature and lack of rain, scientists said.

Even fairly modest shifts away from the average lead to noticeable rise in the occurrence of violence, according to the study which theorized that the expected rise of in average world temperatures this century could result in a 50 per cent growth in major violent conflicts such as civil wars.

The scientists suggest that climate shifts, especially rising temperatures, are bound to cause more frequent conflicts over progressively declining natural resources, on top of the physiological impact on people due to hotter weather.

“We need to be cautious here. We do not mean that it is inevitable that further warming in the future will produce more conflict. We are saying that previous changes in climate — especially, past temperature increase — are connected with increasing personal and group disputes,” said Marshall Burke of the University of California, Berkeley.

“It is certainly possible that future communities will be more able to deal with severe temperatures than we do today; but we believe that it is risky to just presume that this will be so,” said Mr. Burke, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Science.

The study was based on an investigation of the scholastic literature for historical narratives of violent disputes, from individual aggression, such as murder and assaults to greater conflicts such as riots, racial tensions, civil war and even primary declines of civilisations that existed thousands of years back.

Disputes between groups rather than between persons exhibited the clearest link to alterations in the climate, the scientists said, with temperature increases being the most prevalent risk factor — all of the 27 causes of contemporary societies, for example, established a connection between warmer weather and increase in violence.

“We found that a one standard-deviation shift towards warmer conditions causes personal violence to increase 4 per cent and inter-societal conflicts to grow by 14 per cent,” Mr Burke said.

“To appreciate the magnitude of the shift, this sort of increase in temperature is about equal to warming an African nation by 0.4C for a whole year or warming a United States county by 3C for a given month. Although these are moderate changes, they have an immense effect on communities,” he said.

“Our findings give inkling to a couple of aspects of the matter that might link climate to conflict.

The first is economic shortage. Years of high temperature and severe precipitation cause a degradation of economic conditions, principally in poor countries, and if things turn really bad, desperate people who lack other options might choose to rise up in arms. This appears to be a major path connecting climate and group conflict in many agricultural communities,” he added.

“Simultaneously, exposure to extremely hot temperatures also seems to promote a physiological reaction in how humans interrelate with one another: People become less trustful, more hostile, and more vicious. It is probable that both of these factors are prime motivators, and we hope that future study will aid in determining which factor applies in which setting,” he added.

Solomon Hsiang of Princeton University, another co-author of the research, said that the connection between climate shift and violent dispute is apparent but for now there is no obvious rationalization — somewhat akin to the link in the 1950s between smoking and lung cancer, which could only be established after many years.

“Presently, there are some suppositions pointing out why the climate might induce conflict. For instance, we know that shifts in climate influence current economic circumstances, particularly in agricultural countries, and studies imply that people are more liable to take up arms when the economy declines, perhaps partly to preserve their livelihoods,” Mr Hsiang said.

How social media fuels holiday inflation

Parents are now under pressure to fill summer holidays with activities for their children by the explosion of social media, as claimed by some people.

According to the Future Foundation think-tank, the facility with which people can “post” their vacation pictures and other activities online puts pressure on others to stay in step.

The authors claimed that their data shows time spent on holidays increasing in the last five decades, identifying a particular rise in the amount of time people spend socialising outside their homes, as well as an increase in the variety of activities they get involved in.

The appearance of what they called an “experience economy”, in which the amassing of experience is more important than the accumulation of material things, can be partly explained by the great upsurge in mobile phone users with Internet-linked smartphones, up by 20 per cent since 2010.

The report, entitled “Fifty Years of Summer” and created for the Nectar loyalty card company, said the way families and individuals socialise during summer has also shifted, with 66 per cent saying that barbecuing is the most frequent way to dine with friends; a drastic increase from only 6 per cent in the 1960s.

They also claimed that there is a rising pressure among young people to plan for their summer experience, with more and more of them using spray tans, sun beds and exercise programs to prepare for warm weather.

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Climate change is happening 10 times faster than ever

The current pace of global warming is unmatched in the past 65 million years 
 

Stanford University recently published a report in the journal Science pointing  but the extent to which the climate change rate — so much heat absorbed in very little time —is overtaking any other eras of warming or cooling in the Earth’s 65 million years history. If present estimates are precise, the researchers state, that pace will speed up to 50 or even 100 times quicker than anything we have observed in the past.

 

Scientific American explains:

They observed climate occurrences or primary transitions that have transpired on Earth from the time of the dinosaurs’ extinction. Those include the time when the Earth came out of an ice age. Temperatures then went up between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius, similar to the amount scientists predict is possible with the prevailing climate change. But that change occurred within about 20,000 years, the scientists pointed out, and not mere decades as it is now the case.

 

Another study conducted by University of Texas and put out in the journal Nature, has discovered that the Antarctic permafrost is also melting at a rate 10 times faster compared to anything measured previously, that is, in the last 11,000 years. The scientists explain that the dramatic shift is not due to higher temperatures but to altering weather patterns in which the region is experiencing more sunlight than before. The researchers of the Antarctic case are not overly worried at their findings, explaining that for the Arctic polar ice to melt at this rate would be much more problematic.

 

The findings of the Stanford study are not as hopeful. To keep up with the present rate of global warming, says study author Christopher Field, we have to begin adjusting accordingly on a significantly faster timetable. The chances of reducing its effects now, in his calculation, is not so bright:

 

To keep the temperature rise to about 1.5 degrees, the Earth would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, and then attain negative emissions, that is, “the total amount of all human activities is a net elimination of CO2 from the atmosphere,” the study says. If we achieve that, climate changes by the final years of the century will not be as disastrous, Field said.

 

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Conversion from Coal-Fired Boilers to Natural-Gas Boilers in Heats Up

 

Last year, the haze in the atmosphere encouraged many people to implement the “coal-to-electricity” conversion plan. According to a China Securities newspaper report, the present demolition of coal-fired boilers has reached a substantial level in its implementation.

Beginning in the second quarter when the government enacted its coal-fired boiler demolition act to prevent excessive pollution, the coal-fired boiler “annihilation” program has extended into many areas. In the context of energy-saving environmental protection, “coal to electricity” will become the big trend for the next few years. As the alternative to coal-fired boiler, gas boilers are expected to usher in a tremendous growth.

On May 13, Zhengzhou City Hall stopped the operation of a coal-fired boiler in the Yutong Bus Company by removing the 10-ton steam-boiler system. It also decided that by the end of next year, the city’s 263 coal-fired boilers will be completely demolished and converted.

In Beijing, the “coal to gas” project has entered the construction phase. Beijing Gas Group General Manager Li Yalan recently disclosed to the media that by the end of 2013, Beijing City within four districts will be coal-free and by 2015 six districts will be added.

Facilitating the conversion from coal gas to natural gas boiler, the plan is to divide Beijing this year into 3 groups of 93 coal-fired boiler areas. In the view of many, coal is seen as the culprit in bringing about hazy weather which is expected to rise even more sharply. As an example, Zhengzhou city’s monitoring data show pollutants mainly came from coal dust (41%), PM (28%) and motor vehicles (24%). Zhengzhou city’s energy structure is still dominated by coal. Coal use in 2012 reached 35,000,000 tons, which is 73% of the total fuel use.

The City Hall issued ”The blue sky” White Paper incorporating the proposed objectives of the project wherein coal-fired boilers will switch to cleaner fuels such as natural gas as an emergency measure. Exhausts from gas boilers contain much less pollutants than coal-fired boilers. According to Li Yalan, converting to natural gas in operating boilers will reduce NO2 emissions by 60% and sulfur dioxide emissions drastically by 99.5%.

In addition to cutting down pollutants, heating efficiency will be substantially improved. Currently, the heating efficiency of coal-fired boilers is 60% to 85% while that of gas-fired boilers is over 90%. Beijing’s overall conversion into the usage of gas boilers will increase heating efficiency by 30%. Beijing city hall officials will also look into the improvement of heating subsidies. This will encourage residents to choose clean energy.

China Securities News reports said that from the first two quarters of 2013, aside from Beijing, Zhengzhou, Shaanxi and Xi’an, Lanzhou City, Taiwan has also replaced its coal-fired boilers. Lanzhou city construction, environmental protection, municipal and other departments are jointly carrying out trials for its urban coal-fired boiler renovation project by dismantling 83 Taiwan steam boilers, accounting for a total dismantling by 40%.

Xinjiang Urumqi will also shift from coal to gas as part of its people’s livelihood project, part of its reconstruction project dubbed “priority among priorities in beautiful Xinjiang”. In Tibet, dozens of heating stations are also actively carrying out reconstruction of gas boilers as the deadline for complete conversion nears.

Natural gas boilers are expected to experience an upsurge in sales. Research data on the growing energy and natural gas industry, according to analyst Huang Qing of the China Securities News, will accelerate the phasing-out of coal-fired boilers into gas boilers.

Governments around the world are seen to complete in the move to reduce carbon emissions from the current levels. Together with the rest of the “oil to gas” and “coal to gas” conversion, the directive is expected to usher in a great increase in compliance.

Yutong Bus Company told the China Securities newspaper reporter that in response to city hall’s “blue sky” project, the company will accelerate its conversion from coal-fired boiler heating. Four sets of 10-ton coal-fired boilers will be demolished and replaced with 3 sets of 20-ton natural-gas boilers. They expect to be finished before the end of 2013. The other 2 sets of 25-ton coal-fired boilers will be completed in 2014. Yutong Company equipment safety director Li Zhihui told the media that the company expects to spend more than $20,000,000 for the conversion into natural gas boilers in two years’ time.

The replacement of coal-fired boilers brought good news for the new-energy boiler manufacturing industry. The China Securities News reporter said that Beijing Taikang boiler company expects to experience a rise in sales of boiler products of all types this year. However, previous product sales declined significantly for coal-fired boilers. Production of natural gas boilers showed significant growth trends.

Hangzhou Boiler Co.’s representative told the China Securities Journal that natural gas boiler production company can supply the entire boiler output by 50% as natural gas boiler sales in the country accounts for a large chunk of the market. With the West-East gas pipeline project already ongoing, the city’s natural gas power station can expect to have enough supply of good quality natural gas for boilers. The company’s natural gas needs is also expected to increase tremendously.

The optimism in the use natural gas boiler will help increase sales and further strengthen the conversion program. Hangzhou Boiler Company explained in the report that with the concerted efforts to prevent the rapid increase of atmospheric pollution, natural gas power generation opportunities will help increase the orders for the company’s waste-heat boilers, particularly gas-turbine-powered waste-heat boilers.

The giant power-station boiler parts manufacturing enterprises, Run-Chuan, revealed to the China Securities newspaper reporter that although the demand for natural gas boiler parts are relatively low at present, the company’s diversified distribution system will make natural gas boiler components an important business component of the company.

 

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3 Steps to Build a Culture of Sustainability and Achieve Global Environmental Goals

Although it is common for companies to push sustainability results by establishing definite, time-bound goals, attaining them is a distinct process for every enterprise. Innovation, investment and operational savvy all play a part in achieving success; but the most significant factor is formulating a vigorous culture of sustainability that incorporates this approach into every facet of the business.

 

Recently, our company announced that over the past three years we have made noteworthy improvements in our environmental performance. This included reduction of our energy usage by 12%, our greenhouse gas emissions by 15.7%, and attaining a leading-edge level of 3.5 hectoliters of water used for every hectoliter of beer made, posting an 18.6% reduction. These efficiency improvements were all achieved mainly without any major investment in new, sophisticated technology.

 

Like any global company reach, our worldwide operations face various local conditions. Challenges ranging from the capabilities and age of equipment to the diversity in quality and availability of raw materials mean that choosing a “one-size-fits-all” approach is often impossible. The main approach that can steer a company toward environmental maturity is to develop a culture of environmental conservation and awareness into all aspects of every employee’s tasks on a daily basis.

 

This idea has been around for a while; however, it is also something that is not often observed in reality. For us, ascertaining that we provide incentives and challenges to our 118,000 fellow workers to make gradual changes in the work environment – big or small, within our more than 140 breweries and soft drink facilities – was the best method to attain our three-year goals. Along the way, we discovered some essential factors in establishing such a culture of sustainability:

 

 

1.Elevate sustainability initiatives to the same level as other business-critical functions

Having employees scattered worldwide, it can be hard activating everyone to focus on sustainability objectives. From the boardroom to the brewery floor, we expect people to focus on environmental performance as much as they do on other vital business functions. Hence, companies can encourage all colleagues to stay on the same page – focused on attaining sustainability goals.

Establishing an operational management approach that puts environmental objectives alongside those for efficiency, quality and safety can help to develop coordination on a company-wide scale. We call our management system Voyager Plant Optimizations (VPO), and is custom-designed for our unique operations. A company’s system should include policies, procedures and guidelines to aid teams in performing more efficiently, while giving room for creative collaboration and innovation. VPO has allowed our entire organization to gain well-oiled coordination and is the primary source of our successes in our environmental performance.

The management system also encourages best-practice sharing within the entire company by delineating distinct responsibility for assuring that reductions are reached and allowing for targets to be embraced by all.

 

2. Encourage global best practice sharing, tailored to local conditions

Companies operating globally often allow every region the freedom to identify best practices that apply under local conditions. However, businesses must grab the opportunity to utilize these acquired lessons in other regions and scale them across the company, as much as possible.

Based on our experience, best-practice sharing can aid regional teams enhance their environmental performance. For instance, our team in China attained the company’s highest region-wide reduction in energy, water and carbon emissions between 2009 and 2012 – 30%, 38%, and 29% reductions, respectively. To help the team in China accelerate their improvement, our global team took the initial progress forward by encouraging best-practice sharing from other regions. Among the new initiatives included were how to optimize efficiency in boiler combustion and how to improve time-of-use management through a meticulous analysis of electricity rate-schedules.

A few months after, our China colleagues reversed the tables and started sharing their own best practices in our global workshops with other Zones. The China team’s approach of continuously benchmarking utilities usage between brewery departments by digging into the energy and water data, for instance, has now been applied to other regions globally. Hence, the lesson gained here is to develop a culture of sustained improvement where colleagues can openly share challenges and solutions and apply them to meet local conditions in real-time.

 

3. Empower employees to continually drive improvement

We have also found that it works well to encourage all colleagues to behave as if they owned the business. When each colleague treats the company’s goals as their own responsibility and is empowered to act on them, great things happen. Colleagues in our Cartersville, GA brewery exhibited this ownership concept when they decided to adopt a weekly “Water Walks” around the facility to pinpoint areas where water was being wasted. In 2012 alone, these walks succeeded in a total reduction of 49 million liters of water usage.

By sharing the responsibility for achieving targets for sustainability with every colleague and empowering each one to discover ways to improve, companies can achieve a degree of performance and commitment that would not be otherwise possible.

Based on our track record, developing a culture of sustainability that is adapted and valued across the entire company is vital for businesses striving to minimize their environmental impact and to meet sustainability goals. The results can prove that this is so.

 

 

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Global Carbon Emissions Set to Hit Alarming 400 Parts Per Million Milestone

A national disaster warning: in up to five million years, this is the first time that the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is approximately to reach 400 parts per million (ppm).  Monday on The guardian reports, former NASA scientist James Hansen warned that levels over 350ppm would destabilize the earth’s climate, but now we have far exceeded that figure with a record-breaking weekly average of 398.5ppm recorded.  While in May 2013, researchers at the Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Hawaii expect we will hit the 400ppm milestone.

 

Aside from many other issues like global fraud for example there are many else the government should give attention to. According to The Guardian, the US government has been monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at the Mauna Loa station located at an elevation of 11,115 feet since 1958.  During the time when it was first ascertained, CO2 levels stayed at a manageable 316ppm, but in the past five decades population expansion coupled with the growth of industrialized nations hooked on fossil fuels and meat has saturated the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases.

 

“I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450ppm within a few decades,” Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory, told The Guardian. It is as if it was a national disaster warning.

 

This “sobering milestone” should be a wake up call for governments to support clean energy and slash emissions, said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher with Scripps CO2 Group.

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Reef Destruction is Ecological

 

To die for scenic reefs in Red or the South China Sea is dying; pretty fishes and panoramic colors of soft and hard corals are now down to a complex ecology similar to tropical forest ecosystems. Compare to the microorganisms that makes the whole thing more tremendous in doing all the destruction, the predators and consumers, the producer algae and the tiny invertebrates mean nothing.

Catalina Reyes of CoECRS. (Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies) and the University of Queensland has published her work alongside 4 colleagues, on the bacteria, fungi and algae that live in this most complex marine ecosystem.

The change in this ecosystem recently is because of our overproduction. Oceans now are Cola like, the CO2 we made over the last century or two has made the sea water to feel like one. As to Catalina’s research, the acid has effects and that are clearly identifies in the micro-world of corals. She links it all up and explained, “So fish, turtles, sharks, lobsters and other reef organisms may lose their homes, threatening coral reef biodiversity and the livelihoods of tens of millions of people.” All reefs, molluscs and others are basically made up of Calcium carbonate, accepted as true to hard corals as well. Due to different reasons erosion of the reef is just a normal phenomenon but at present the erosion has become excessive that it destroys the reefs worldwide at a really disturbing rate.

The well equilibrium of attrition, storm damage, predation and growth has been distorted. Today, deterioration seems to be the pattern in lieu of slow growth. And because of the acid now less and less carbonate is available. You have probably had experimented such in your school laboratory. Micro-boring organisms also eliminate the coral skeleton as usual consequently oceans ends up with no reef!

Catalina found a 35% rate of erosion in the second example when computer simulation by the researchers compared current increases in carbon dioxide levels and their effects on reefs with those lesser increases which we hope to achieve by cutting emissions.

The dreadful effect of “doing nothing about emissions” was a doubling 100% of the erosion. Because of acidic conditions, Micro-boring organisms became much more active and seemed to have a higher temperatures and pH (acidity) that causing the destructions of more corals. A great number and the most common of all was a tiny alga that has the ability in photosynthesizing even in the low light conditions as it penetrated deep into the corals’ hearts.

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Warmer Climate causes Greener Arctic

Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years, new research shows.

Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years, new research shows.

 

Researchers say, elevated temperatures and a longer growing season mean some of Earth’s chilliest regions are looking increasingly green.

As reported and base from the new study, at present the plant life at northern latitudes often looks like the vegetation researchers would have observed up to 430 miles (700 kilometers) farther south in 1982.

“It’s like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years,” study researcher Compton Tucker of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.

A team of university and NASA scientists including Tucker looked at 30 years’ worth of satellite and land surface data on vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. The researchers suggest that, in this region, large patches of lush vegetation now stretch over an area about the size of the continental United States and resemble what was found 4 to 6 latitude degrees to the south in 1982.

“Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more,” climate scientist Ranga Myneni of Boston University said in a statement, adding that the changes are leading to great disruptions for the region’s ecosystems.

In the precedent several decades the Arctic has been warming more rapidly than the rest of any part of earth. An amplified greenhouse effect is largely to blame for the changes in plant life, says Myneni. In this succession, high concentrations of heat-trapping gasses drive up temperatures in the ocean and atmosphere. This warming trims down Arctic sea ice and snow cover, reason for the oceans and land surfaces in the region to be exposed this is also because the ice and snow are more reflective than darker surfaces. These surfaces soak up more heat from the sun’s rays, so further heating of the air and further reduction of sea ice and snow emerge as a consequence. Myneni warns that the cycle could get worse.

“The greenhouse effect could be further amplified in the future as soils in the north thaw, releasing potentially significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane,” Myneni said.

Because of the rising temperatures Arctic and boreal regions could see the equivalent of a 20-degree latitude shift by the end of this century, the team found this out using climate models. The amplified greenhouse effect could have other consequences, like more forest fires, pest infestations and droughts, which cut vegetation growth, researchers say.

And the availability of water and sunlight determines where plants will thrive. “Satellite data identify areas in the boreal zone that are warmer and dryer and other areas that are warmer and wetter,” Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., explained in a statement. “Only the warmer and wetter areas support more growth.”

The researchers furthermore saw additional plant growth in the boreal zone from 1982 to 1992 than from 1992 to 2011. And they thought this could be because of the lack of water in the region during the last two decades of the study.

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Wasting our energy

People are demanding for an end to the load-shedding of electricity and gas. Government should listen or else people will come out on the streets if they do not get basics like energy to light their homes and run their stoves. The issue with oil prices is in fact world wide; the noise is about “energy security”. Other countries in the region are all in chaos ahead to become self sufficient in meeting their own energy needs.

Technology can be our rescue. “Pakistan has two very serious energy problems; energy reliability and energy access”, says Carl Pope, a former executive director of the Sierra Club, an American environmental organization. “For half of Pakistan’s population, renewable energy is the only power they are ever going to get and for the rest renewables can replace the shortfall”, he added.

Carl Pope’s point of view was, renewable energy is the key to our energy misery. This will be possible in the form of small hydro projects, solar water pumps and water geysers to ease the load of electricity and gas, rooftop solar units for homes and large wind farms on Pakistan’s extensive coastal wind corridor. There can be smaller initiatives like the sugar mills producing electricity from biomass to feed the grid, garbage companies converting sorted trash into energy and smaller biogas units across farms in rural areas where dung is readily available. There are a lot of possible solutions; in addition, it can be run of the river turbines or canals to produce electricity locally and extracting methane from our vast low-grade coal supplies in the Thar Desert.

“Every little bit is going to help… The technology for doing all this is readily available”, he points out. All the Government of Pakistan has to do is set the policy right, which in his view, is the fairly easy part. The rest will be done by business. “You don’t have to start from scratch, you can learn from other developing countries like South Africa, Kenya and to some extent India”. If we set out on this path, he says, the “current energy shortage can improve dramatically”. Several companies in Lahore and Karachi are already offering solar technology. What are urgently needed, however, are trusted brand names that can distribute solar products like solar panels, solar geysers, solar pumps, solar streetlights etc. Along with the right distributors, we also need banks to provide the finance to scale all this up.



Wind is the second cheapest form of energy that has huge potentials. But the downside is, aside from a few small pilot projects set up by different NGOs on the coast, we only have one big 50 MW wind energy project that was recently set up by the Fauji Fertiliser Company. But on the good side though, the government claims that the next year will see at least 10 more wind projects which will be the beginning of exploiting the wind potential of the Gharo-Keti Bandar Wind Corridor. The area has 50,000 MW power generation potential which means with the city of Karachi located nearby, distribution costs will not be high.

We are blessed with all the rivers and extensive canal system. This gives us great potential small-scale hydro projects, including run of the river hydro systems. Medium sized dams in the country come with great potential too, they seem to be appropriate sites.

In the rural areas of Pakistan Biogas plants are also a good option, but there could be a problem, according to Carl Pope, is that “they fall apart when you make them too big”. In fact, this has been introduced to some places in the country and they seem to work quite well but only if few households are sharing the load and feedstock.

Another good option is biogas from crushed sugarcane because of many sugar mills in Pakistan. As of today, only around seven sugar mills practice this and selling their surplus power to the national grid. But if all will do the same idea, the potential of producing 2000 MW through the 82 sugar mills in the country.

Pakistan can do better; there are a lot of options for us. If we all support renewable options rather than go for potential expensive scams like “Rental Power Projects”, we could solve our energy problems within five years, says the experts.

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Warning: Toxics are Lethal, Daily Dose of it to be Tracked

The thought could be scary, knowing how much toxins you inhale everyday. Through the help of technology European researchers are gearing up to monitor thousands of people. Smartphones are given away to record the chemicals to which they are exposed every day.

Exposome, the term used by European Commission to study the effects of environmental exposures to human health. It was then hope that the four-year studies will benefit public health in ways that genome research so far has not. Exposone could reveal a warning or warnings of environmental health issues for use.

“There’s been too much emphasis on genetic factors, which contribute relatively little to disease compared with environmental factors,” says Martyn Smith, a toxicologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is participating in the newly funded Exposomics project. Paolo Vineis, an environmental epi¬demiologist at Imperial College London, leads the €8.7-million project.

Some studies do not always succeed like the Genome-wide association studies, in which scientists search for genetic variants linked to disease. They have failed to fully explain why some people are more susceptible than others to chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.



The new study will work this way, subjects will carry smartphones equipped with sensors to measure exposures, and their blood will be analyzed to monitor molecular changes. The majority of the participants are already concerned in other long-term health studies. In order to understand the triggers for conditions such as heart disease, asthma and lung cancer, goal is to look for biomarker differences between people walking through areas with low air pollution and those exposed to urban fumes. The idea is to differentiate the difference the toxins will cause the human health basing on their environment.

Vineis’s exposomics approach has already exposed gene-expression signatures that connect people’s leukaemia risk with their exposure to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals, for example.

The second project will focus on children and pregnant women. Since children’s bodies are smaller and their organs are still developing they are more susceptible to environmental influences, this is according to epidemiologist Martine Vrijheid, head of the project, at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain.

The researchers will be focused on disease biomarkers to evaluate the consequence of environmental exposures on growth, obesity, immune development and asthma. Both projects will generate vast amounts of data. Vineis and Vrijheid are developing data-sharing policies to enable other researchers to mine the resource in order to have a more productive outcome so that they may be able to give appropriate warning to the public.

“We see this as a major priority,” says the institute’s David Balshaw. United States became interested in exposomics as well. This year the US National Research Count started to call for greater investments in exposome research. In further adieu the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences plans to make it a priority, although it has yet to invest in any projects as large as the European efforts, he added.

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