pollution from fossil fuel thermal plants

In the day and age of technology, while we are getting dependent on electrical energy, its existence is usually taken for granted. Most of the time one prefers ignoring the consequences nature and other living beings are bearing to provide us with such a necessity. With the escalating expansion of technology, requirement and demand of this particular energy is also mounting. At present, Gujarat itself is house to almost 23 power plants, out which 9 are thermal and many more are joining in.

Fossil fuels, which include coal, natural gas or petroleum for thermal power plants pose as major threat to the future. International Energy Agency presumes that by 2035, 85% of the energy market of the world will be accounted by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are an unsustainable resource; formed from the decay of plants and animals over millions of years, our planet has a finite number of deposits. Consumption of large amount of fossil fuel is not only exhausting our natural resource bank but burning of these is creating disastrous impact on the environment.

Fossil fuel like coal constitute of momentous depository of carbon, emissions created by the burning of coal results in conversion of this carbon into carbon dioxide, which is then released into the atmosphere. Increase of this augments the greenhouse effect and contributes to the heating up of earth process or global warming. Depending on the fossil fuel and the method of smoldering other emissions like Ozone, sulphur dioxide and other gases may also be produced. Fossil fuel like coal also contain dilute radioactive material and burning them in very large quantities releases this material into the environment leading to local as well as global radioactive contamination.

Recent research presented by Texan engineers brings in hope in contrary to the grim feeling created by this kind of report. According to them, dissolving carbon di oxide CO2 in salt water could improve the prospects of storing the greenhouse gas in underground aquifers. A lot of research and proposals have been prepared on how to capture and store the gas which arises from the CO² concentration of fossil fuel burning. There have been proposed solutions of creating systems that compress the gas(CO ) and then directly inject it underground into water-bearing porous rocks.

Query and doubts arise on the feasibility of CO remaining stored in this way over many decades or whether it will slowly leak from the aquifers it is dumped into. (Now cmon, we are already trying to figure out reduction of emission of CO in the atmosphere are going to repeat the process for the CO dumped under the earth,

In the recent Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies International Conferenace, chemical engineer Steven Bryant from Texas University presented his teams’ feasibility study of developing a method that ensures the gas stays put.

The team solution suggests pumping salt water out of a suitable aquifer, dissolved the gas into the brine in a mixing tank above ground and then inject the CO laden solution back into the aquifer.

According to them, this might reduce the chances of CO escaping from aquifers because the mixture is denser than the surrounding water and less likely to rise towards the surface. This presentation has lead to debates about the costing and viability of such a process, it is assumed that the total estimate of such a project will be double the capital investment. But the team believes the method to be an acceptable option to prevent sequestration leaks!!

I haven’t yet read much about alternative energy possibilities for thermal power plants, but after reading this report I was wondering that knowing the fact that we are on our way to exhaust our natural resources is significant enough to concentrate on finding alternative energy sources. These propositions might solve few related issues but what about the nature bank we are wearing??? If anybody reading this has more information, I will be very grateful if you share with me..as of now, for me today’s green resolution is to know about this entire issue by next week.

After reading about E-waste, I was almost looking at each and every electronic good as a devil waiting to create disaster. Yet life is so dependant on these, thankfully organizations like Greenpeace do offer an opportunity to create awareness about companies which are ‘green-tech’..Here is a list of seven companies who are attempting to implement ‘green-tech’ policies in India..

1. Nokia- has one of the best take-back programs for used mobile phones and aims to have all their models free of brominated flame retardants (BFR) and antimony trioxide by 2009; they also have launched PVC free models.

2. Samsung- launched PVC free and partially BFR free models of mobile phones and developed halogen-free memory chips and semiconductors for certain applications.

3. Fujitsu Siemens Computers- sells a range of green-certified products, which use halogen-free flame retarded plastics and halogen-free circuit boards for mainboard and power supply, but there is no information on PVC-free components. FSC has finally put a timeline of end of 2010 for the complete elimination of PVC and BFRs in all its products.

4. Sony Ericsson- has banned antimony, beryllium and phthalates from new models launched since January 2008. The company scores relatively well on energy criteria because all of its products meet and exceed the Energy Star standard. It is now reporting CO2 emissions from its own manufacturing and product transportation.

5. Sony has models on the market that are partially free of PVC and BFRs, including three models of video recorders and many models of the Personal Computer VAIO, “WALKMAN”, Camcorder and Digital camera. On waste issues, Sony supportes Individual Producer Responsibility and provides some voluntary take-back and recycling of the e-waste generated by its branded products and disclosing externally-verified greenhouse gas emissions for over 200 sites.

6. LG Electronic has launched new models of mobile phones with halogen-free housings, packaging and main printed wiring board. It now provides a timeline of 2012 for eliminating phthalates and antimony – but only in new models of mobile phones.

7. Toshiba- It launched models of laptops with circuit boards free from brominated flame retardants (BFRs), EcoMark-certified products without PVC, and makes other components and parts that are free from these harmful substances. Toshiba has committed to introduce alternatives to phthalates, beryllium and antimony by 2012 – though only in its PCs, for which it loses one point.

Note: This list is from the report created by Greenpeace on Greener Electronics and it keeps getting updated every quarter. There are more companies in this report, but I chose to share with you the topmost ones.. hope if you are on your way to buy a new mobile or electronic good this article will help you take a ‘green-decision’..(I will keep it updated whenever Greenpeace gives the signal)

'tech-transfer', possible hope for greener future

A fortnight later, the green future of the world is going to be decided during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) scheduled to take place in Poland. Running in Poznan, Poland, from December 1-12, the talks are a stepping stone towards a treaty to brake emissions from fossil fuels beyond 2012 and support developing countries in climate change’s firing line.

Negotiations of funding for developing countries on account of adaptation against climate change and transfer to cleaner technologies and low carbon investment is the emphasis criteria laid down by India and other developing countries. President Obama is out to become the global leader on climate change but the Poland Meeting is going to be attended by Ex-president George Bush’s negotiation team which was not very keen in GHG emission cuts during last years meeting in Bali.

President Obama, vows to create a new chapter in climate change by establishing strong targets to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. His statement, "Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather at Poland next month: Your work is vital to the planet.” add in optimism while he promises to re-engage in the negotiations once he takes over the office subsequent to Bush administration.

“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious!!” States Obama as he opens the green chapter for US. Yet with the economic downfall and tighter budgets, restrain could cause apathetic maneuvering room at the upcoming UN talks.

While India is getting geared up for the forthcoming meeting, recent discussions among stakeholders at World Economic Forum (WEF) India, brings in hope to all eco-concerned citizens as well as the green entrepreneurs of the country. The immense opportunity of boost in clean energy technology and India’s role in carbon exchanges hold a lot of promise for the economic as well as ecologically sustained future of the country.

India is now the 4th largest wind power producer in the world. A recent report by Ernst and Young noted India as the 3rd most attractive country in the world for clean energy investments. Out of the potential 430,000 MW of energy India needs by 2030, up to 50% could be provided by solar power. It is anticipated that Renewable energies are going to create an enormous business opportunities, employment and market as well as decentralized energy options.

Dominic Waughray, senior director at the Forum in charge of Environmental Initiatives said “The business discussions on climate change at this years India summit were very interesting and very positive. The Indian investor and business community clearly sees the massive opportunity to deploy domestic finance and technologies to create ‘leap frog’ clean energy products and services for the population, including the rural poor. With its unique combination of large manufacturers, green tech start ups, venture capitalists, social entrepreneurs and strong rural financing networks, India could emerge as the Asian hub of innovation in the low carbon growth space. We look forward as a next step to bring Indian Government representatives into this discussion.”

This gives hope of intensification and opportunities of green business development and increase in investment on renewable energies.

E-waste or electronic waste is one of the downbeat of the electronically developing lifestyle we all are getting adapted to. In the past one decade India has become the hub of IT manufacturers, the country’s developing scenario has been attracting global IT players. While the country is getting more and more interested in latest technology, environmentalists are getting worried about the exposed pollution being created by the e-waste dump yards.

There is a rapid growth in the amount of disposed used and old electronic goods, like computers, mobiles, phones Tvs etc. E-waste generally consists of obsolete devices such as DVDs, CDs, floppies, tapes and electronic components including chips, processors, mother boards, printed circuit boards and industrial electronics. Experts say e-waste contains many hazardous substances like heavy metals, PVC plastics, and brominated flame retardants as well as toxic elements like lead, mercury and cadmium.

In the throw-away culture we all are growing up with, it is much cheaper and convenient discarding goods rather than repairing them. The waste is usually dumped in open landfill, exposing surrounding soil, water and people to toxicity and its adverse effects. While the density of e-waste in the country is on the rise, at present there are very few e-waste recycling plants in India and hence we might be heading towards a future where India will turn out being an electronic morgue. A large section of workers are engaged in the dismantling of e-waste. In the absence of proper rules, lives of such workers are jeopardized due to their constant exposure to toxic metals and fumes. In Indian households most of the time electronic goods are sold to kabariwalas or feriwalas(scarp dealers), which then goes to informal disassembling units, which segregate different metals, plastics, batteries and circuits so that they can be sold and reused. Due to a lack of safety standards in such recycling plants, lives of workers handling these wastes are jeopardized due to their constant exposure to toxic metals and fumes.

As we are all are busy being habituated to a comfy hi tech world, it is good to know that there are a few (yes, it’s only a few), who are taking initiatives to think about our ecologically sustained hi-tech future. NGOs like Toxic Links, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti trying to find solutions to this major problem while Companies like Satyam have started focusing on e-waste management. Other companies like Nokia, Samsung etc have taken a pledge of creating ‘green electronics’. Taking care of the environment is not a difficult task, nobody is asking one to renounce technology or development, it is a simple matter about the ‘choice we make and the lifestyle we lead’.

One hopes that initiatives like these will create a future where there will be no need to make a choice as everything on offer will confirm to the safety and comfort of people as well as the earth!

water less future for india???

Sometimes I feel the human psyche prefers staying in self created utopian world and often opts to overlook nature’s critical confrontation. Whether one wants to believe it or not climate change is creating serious impact on each of ours future. Fragile ecosystem world over is getting affected and leading to an appalling future.
Latest reports revealed by the Indian Meteorological Department, warn that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear completely by 2035 if the earth continues to warm at its current rate. The tip of Kolhai glacier in Kashmir, one of the largest glaciers in the Himalayas, had receded by almost 22 metres in 2007 while several smaller glaciers have disappeared completely. The Himalayan glaciers are the reserve of India’s three great rivers basins, the Ganga, Indus, Barahmaputra. Due to the earth warming up process, about 70% of glaciers are diminishing at a startling a terrifying rate.
Environmentalist and geologist fear that the Himalayan glaciers are melting down faster than any other in the world. The freshwater supply is unquestionably getting affected due to the glacial vanishing act and hence causing adverse effects on the biodiversity. Future repercussions of these natural alterations portray the appalling truth of heading towards a future resulting in water shortage and other consequences like allusion on regional food shortage, flash floods followed by droughts, rise in river and sea level etc. Besides the water shortage for millions of people and irrigation, the outcome of this upheaval will affect the aquatic ecosystem.

The latest report of UNEP almost confirms this dismaying prediction, the experts warn about the probability of half the world facing water shortage by next 60-70 years that is by 2080. Disrupting water flow patterns and increasing severity of natural upheavals like floods, droughts and storms are all leading to diminution of drinking water table. Asia, especially India and China which are already suffering the outfall of over population are being considered to be the most vulnerable target of this disastrous forecast.

Do these reports sound very far fetching and distant?? Are we thinking it’s too far in future for us to bother?? But, it is not, even though the ecologists are warning us of a possible future menace, the evidences of these forthcomings are already all around us and being felt by us, each of us. During a period when the escalating population is posing a threat to the country, I dread to visualize the future of children who are being born even as I type this article. Is this what we call the development of our country, a “water-less” future for upcoming generations??

Floods under Antarctic Ice speeds Glaciers into Sea

Mid November and Ahmedabad still awaits winter, while nostalgic hopes and memories of the scheduled weather keeps the city folks apprehensive, greater mysteries of the role of global warming is being discovered all over the world. According to the most recent research, it was discovered that beneath the ice layer of giant Byrd Glacier in east Antarctica, overflow of water is speeding the sub glacial lake flood. The latest study done by Dr Leigh Sterns is matter of world consideration.

Previous reports of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 expressed the uncertainty of the correlation of global warming and the ongoing ice behavior leading to rise in sea levels. Dr Stern’s recent research brings into light the possible ice- dynamics which is lubricating the base of the glacier leading to melt down of ice sheets into the ocean.

It is being noted that subglacial lakes in Antarctica periodically shed huge quantities of water. Water in the lakes remain liquid despite being buried beneath a mile of ice due to the warmth from underlying rocks, overflow of these water streams affect the mountains of ice above. The inundation of these lakes lifts the ice by several meters, and when the water spills over in flood, the elevation sinks again. Within the past two years rapid changes in the ice elevation has been marked with an increase in the speed of ice flow by almost 10%, on an average Byrd glacier used to channel 20 billion tons of ice towards the Ross Sea, which has now increased to 22 billion tons of ice.

Reading this report may sound like a regular phenomenon of nature, but over viewing the larger picture brings in lot of apprehension about the future. On one hand glaciers all around the world are melting on the other hand rise in sea level due to various factors is causing mayhem. The interconnectivity of these phenomenons might still be under dispute but the affect of the earth heating up can be see world over.