Air Quality


This was all the news back in October 2009. Members of the airline industry group “IATA” pledged to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent a year until 2020, and called on governments worldwide to provide incentives to speed biofuel development. There have been advances made in jet liner biofuels and I will be posting more on this in the near future. The idea of airliners running on biofuel is an exciting one, but is it viable?

The industry group represents all the major airlines, worldwide, and it is noteworthy that they also agreed to reduce carbon emissions by a full 50% of current levels by the year 2050. This all occurred in a meeting on climate change held in Montreal in 2009.

IATA director Giovanni Bisignani has been quoted as saying that the meeting had made it “absolutely clear that industry is committed to improving environmental performance”. He also was quoted as saying that cooperation between states and airlines would be key to lowering emissions. It is my opinion, at this time, that this remains to be seen.

Mr. Bisignani also said that “Governments have some homework to do, improving air traffic management and accelerating biofuel development by establishing the right fiscal and legal frameworks.” At the same meeting, he also called for “aviation access to global carbon markets to offset emissions until technology provides the ultimate solution.”

All of this is fine and dandy but in light of the sad results of last years Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, these goals are merely goals and do not look doable in the long run. Not that airline carbon reduction would be a huge factor anyways. Accordiing to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), airlines are only responsible for 2% of carbon dioxide emitted worldwide and about 3% of emissions currently linked to climate change. This is really nothing compared to the farming industry, agriculture and the mowing down of the rainforest for toilet paper.

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Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered our Government to lead by example on climate change matters, to cut consumption of fuel and improve water use efficiency. I think this is a first, however, those of you who know otherwise are welcome to comment and give examples. But I think this is a much needed push on the part of our President in bringing conservation back into the mindset of America. We call ourselves conservatives and then we consume and trash like drunken sailors. It’s time to walk the walk.

In his demand, he wanted federal departments to cut their fuel consumption by 30% and to improve their water use efficiency by 26%. This appears to be an immediate goal with a 90 day limit for the development of an overall plan for long term targets. In fact, he requires all federal agencies to set firm 2020 targets to cut their greenhouse gas emissions within that 90 day window. As much as you hear the pigs squealing, this is very liberal and tolerant and allows them to squirm off with their usual wheeling and dealing and I am not sure it will make a whit of difference. It seems all that many Americans care about is who is sleeping with whom but damn if they care if the baby goes out with the bathwater. I apologize but a lot of people piss me off. Barack Obama pisses me off. The time has long passed for people to wake up and smell the coffee and still they keep dreaming. Who out there smells it? The world is on fire, fools.

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Duke Energy’s Integrated Gasification Combined-Cycle (IGCC) plant in Edwardsport, Ind. is taking a significant step forward in the use of cleaner coal technology. Notice that I say “cleaner coal” and not “clean coal” because the former is possible while the latter is not. But in the noble effort of creating the former to help meet the country’s future energy requirements, the first major pieces of equipment have arrived. Using GE IGCC technology, the plant is expected to be the largest cleaner coal IGCC facility of its type in the world when it is complete. An Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or IGCC, is a power plant using synthesis gas (syngas). This gas is often used to power a gas turbine whose waste heat is passed to a steam turbine system, also referred to as a combined cycle gas turbine.

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According to a study done last year in 48 U.S. cities, researchers discovered that death rates tended to be higher on days when the ozone pollution in the area was higher. In this study they researched over 2.7 million deaths across the country in every area. As with all health risks, the elderly were more vulnerable. Although this might seem to reduce the value of the research in that elderly people are more likely to die at any given time no matter what, it must be considered that in this case elderly women were more at risk than men. Overall, in all other causes of death the risk is greater for men. The study also revealed an interesting twist that says a lot for the validity of the study. It showed that blacks were more vulnerable than other racial groups, with elderly black women the most vulnerable.

Just on the face of it, this study seems to warn that black women should not be living in polluted cities. And most especially elderly black women. As in other studies of health risks, people with health conditions were affected more than the healthy among us. In this study it showed that people with atrial fibrillation, which is a disturbance of heart rhythm, seemed to be dieing on days with poor air quality. This would not be an assumption. In fact, it’s an anomaly.

This study was conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health. It is a credible published study that can be found online.

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Finally, the EPA is making strides toward reigning in air pollution! After eight years of Bush, who did not believe in air pollution, we are starting to see some work being done in the name of the people. I don’t care if you believe in global warming or not but there is no denying COPD and Black Lung. Not everybody who dies of lung cancer was a smoker. Think about that.

So now the EPA is demanding that cities clean up their air. They have added 15 cities to the sooty air list, mostly in states not usually thought of as polluted, such as Alaska, Utah, Idaho and Wisconsin. This surprise is probably due to the prevalence of wood burning stoves in western and northern regions, a top EPA official said.

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India’s largest automaker has announced that it will begin producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre for Luxembourg-based MDI, uses compressed air to push its engine’s pistons, instead of gasoline. Some 6000 zero-emissions Air Cars hit Indian streets in August of 2008. Here is a picture of their model:

The $12,700 CityCAT, pictured above, can hit 68 mph and has a range of 125 miles. It will take only a few minutes for the CityCAT to refuel at gas stations equipped with custom air compressor units. And you can imagine how cheap compressed air is actually going to be. According to the manufacturer, MDI, it should cost around $2 to fill the car’s carbon-fiber tanks with 340 liters of air at 4350 psi. Drivers also will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tanks in about 4 hours. This last perk is the best. You can just fill up your car while it’s in the garage. Cool.

The problem with this item is that we won’t see it here. It has an all glue construction that won’t pass our stringent regulations for automobiles. Also, if you take a look at it you can see that it’s not the kind of thing that Americans are going to get worked up about. Even so, you can’t write it off as insignificant considering that MDI has signed deals to bring this vehicle to 12 countries, including Germany, Israel and South Africa. It is ideally suited to these smaller countries where cars don’t take as much of a beating.

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