Ozone killing enough crops to feed millions of poor


Subhra Priyadarshini

Ozone pollution is destroying 12% of India’s annual cereal production – enough to feed 94 million people below the poverty line through the year. This startling estimate has been revealed in the first ever calculation of ozone pollution in the country¹.

A study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune points a finger at the absence of air quality standards to protect agriculture from ground-level ozone pollution, primarily from vehicles and cooking stoves.

Ground level ozone is the main component of smog and is formed when polluting vehicles, industries or burning matter emit nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. These pollutants react with sunlight to form ground level ozone, which is killer for vegetations.

Sachin Ghude

IITM scientist Sachin Ghude and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California San Diego carried out the modeling study, supported by emission inventories and crop production data. They quantified the impact of ozone on the yields of cotton, soybeans, rice and wheat crops in India for the year 2005, an year they used as representative of the first decade of the 21st century.

Through the simulation studies, the scientists estimated that wheat was the most impacted crop – every year the country was losing around 3.5 metric tonnes – followed by rice at around 2.1 metric tonnes, mostly in central and north India.

On national scale, this loss is about 12% of the cereals required every year (61.2 Mt) under the provision of recently implemented National Food Security Bill (September-2013) by Government of India, the duo report.

“This study, since it was led by Indian government institutions, should have a major impact on the country’s approach to air pollution mitigation. It should speed up India’s attempts to drastically cut pollution,” Ramanathan told Nature India. High surface ozone concentration over major agriculture regions in India, particularly the Indo-Gangetic Plains, one of the world’s most important fertile agricultural lands is a threat to the country’s food security, the scientists say. They estimate that ozone concentrations will only increase further in the future.

The greatest losses of rice and wheat crops were reported from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttaranchal states.

“The possible ways to minimize these losses is to reduce anthropogenic emissions especially from vehicular and Industrial source and cooking stoves,” Ghude points out. He says another alternative could be to breed ozone-tolerant crops.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan

Ramanathan says some off-the-shelf technologies could be put to use immediately to cut the most damaging pollution – the emission of nitrous oxides from the transportation sector. “This contributes to more than half of the nitrous oxides produced and controlling it would have a major impact in reducing ozone. In so doing, we will also reduce the global warming effect of ozone,” he says.

The study puts India’s economic losses from ozone-induced crop damage at $1.29 billion in 2005, mostly stemming from losses in rice and wheat crops.


1. Ghude, S. D. et al. Reductions in India’s crop yield due to ozone. Geophys. Res. Lett.(2014) doi: 10.1002/2014GL060930

Nepal wins hearts and minds with biogas boom

By Om Astha Rai

Villagers in Nepal are increasingly being persuaded that small biogas installations using human waste to provide fuel are not only desirable but are also helping to reduce deforestation of the Himalayas and carbon emissions. 

KATHMANDU, 2 July, 2014 − Sunita Bote, a 30-year-old housewife from the small village of Kumroj in eastern Nepal, was far from convinced when energy specialists from the capital city, Kathmandu, talked about the benefits of constructing a small biogas plant near her house.

“At first, I shuddered at the thought of connecting my cooking stove with a toilet’s septic tank,” Sunita recalls.

But she was eventually persuaded – and now realises the multiple benefits of the biogas system. The plant not only produces enough energy for cooking for her family of seven, it also gets rid of both human and animal waste.

“It is no longer seems disgusting to me,” Sunita says. “Instead, it has eased my household chores.”

Most of Sunita’s neighbours feel the same way, and Kumroj has now been named by the government as Nepal’s first model biogas village, with more than 80% of households having their own biogas installations.

Frequent blackouts

Nepal, a landlocked country of just over 26 million people, has big energy problems. Its cities and towns, reliant on imported fossil fuels for energy, suffer frequent electricity blackouts due to ageing infrastructure and shortages of funds.

With its mountain ranges and many rivers, there is great potential for hydropower, but tight budgets mean there has as yet been little investment in these big, capital-intensive projects.

However, the energy outlook is slowly changing. Instead of building big hydropower plants, local groups − helped by NGOs and outside funders − are constructing micro hydro projectsall over the country. So far, more than 1,000 such plants have been built. There has also been investment in developing solar power.

Meanwhile, thousands of biogas projects are being put in place in backyards and fields throughout the country.

Fuel needs

According to the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), a government agency responsible for promoting renewable energy, there are now more than 300,000 biogas plants providing for the fuel needs of nearly 6% of Nepal’s households.

“At first, people were wary about getting energy from their toilet septic tanks,” says Professor Govinda Pokharel, vice-chairman of the government’s National Planning Commission and, until recently, a director of AEPC.

“It was human faeces that caused the trouble. People, especially those who were not educated and were living in remote villages, were against the idea of using their faeces for cooking food. In some cases, those who installed biogas plants were even ostracised by their neighbours. But attitudes have changed. When animal dung is mixed with human faeces, greater power is generated.”

Traditionally, wood has been the main source of fuel for cooking and heating. But deforestation – with the resulting landslides and floods – has been a big problem.

Trees saved

The Biogas Sector Programme, a Kathmandu-based organisation that promotes the use of biogas, says every biogas plant can save 1.25 trees each year, That means that, due to biogas, nearly 400,000 trees a year throughout the country are saved from being chopped down.

Biogas not only replaces wood for fuel, it can also help reduce carbon emissions. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calculates that a standard biogas plant saves greenhouse gas emissions of between three and five tons each year, compared with other energy sources such as wood.

The AEPC says that Nepal, through the use of biogas and by not cutting tree cover, is helping to reduce the country’s overall emissions by more than one million tons a year. “It may not be a huge contribution at the global level, but it is not negligible either,” Prof Pokharel says.

There are plans to install at least 26,000 biogas plants around the country each year. “The more we install, the more we save trees,” Prof Pokharel says, “And the saving of each tree is important in combating climate change.” – Climate News Network

• Om Astha Rai is a reporter with Nepalese national newspaper, Republica Daily.



The Cost of Relying on Diesel

The Cost of Relying on Diesel

Reeling under power-outage, Nepal relies heavily on diesel to generate power in winter, adversely affecting public health and environment. Also, black carbon that diesel engines emit is accelerating glacier melt, rendering the mountain people more vulnerable to Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).

Click the link to ready my full story:


Indian bummer: Is Delhi the smoggiest city in Asia?

I cough a lot.

It’s a pervasive pulmonary curse here in Delhi where I live, courtesy of the city’s soupy winter smog.

The air pollution in India’s capital during the wind-deprived cold season is abominable. The sources are numerous and perpetual: It’s caused by soot spewed out of coal-burning power plants and from vehicles idling on congested roads. It’s caused by fires — large ones used to remove crop residue from surrounding farms, and small ones used for cooking and warmth by city dwellers.

Sometimes data shows that the air in Delhi is worse than it is in Beijing, that presumed global capital of vaporized carbon. Sometimes data shows the opposite. So which of these two polluted Asian megacities has dirtier air overall?

An unusual international brouhaha has just erupted over that very question, fueled by media coverage of Delhi’s pea-soup smog.

Continue reading at Grist: http://grist.org/news/indian-bummer-is-delhi-the-smoggiest-city-in-asia/

low visibility on roads and motorways in Pakistan

Now a days if one goes on Motorway from Islamabad to Peshawar or to Lahore he experiences low visibility and high mist or fog. The problem persist in Pakistan but now it is very common and irritates the public. One of the cause for this is going back to fossil fuel i.e.,diesel and petrol from natural gas.The problem of natural gas and load shedding is mainly due to bad management and is also attributed to corruption.
Going through all the available material on the natural gas problem and carrying the research on the issue of gas availability it was observed that the problem is very complicated. Actual data is not shown any where and not available.Pakistan is a resourceful country and has many huge deposits of gas and petroleum.
In Capital city of Pakistan Islamabad there is no CNG available for running vehicles and gas station are closed.The vehicles are run by petroleum and diesel which is causing and emitting green house gases and APHS,sulfur and other metals which form aerosol in the air and when temperature comes down in the evening dense fog is forme and the visibility is reduced to the range between 10 to 30 meters and in some areas it is zero.
This is also effecting the climate of the region.
The problem is multidimensional and needs due attraction.

Key words, visibility, CNG , Fog

Climatic change in South Asia

Climatic change is the main cause for melting of glaciers.And one of the the main pollutant responsible for rise in temperature is the smoke and gases produced by burning of fossil fuels.The research carried out at Peshawar indicated that that the number of vehicles in Peshawar increased from 1999 to 2012 more than seven folds.The research was carried out to know the impact of used engine oil in the study area.The aerosol is formed in the air by the escaping gases from the collar of the vehicles.Which is also main cause for the fog formation on the motorway from Peshawar to Islamabad.
The number of vehicles in Hindukush and Himalayan region has increased tremendously and all these vehicles run by Fossil fuel which on burning generate green house gases such as CO,CO2 and in CNG run vehicle methane gas also escape to air.These gases are causing the rise of temperature and so melting of glaciers has also increased.
Another finding of the study is the burning of used engine oil in brick kilns.In the brick kiln used engine oil is used as a chief source of energy and in the brick kiln it is used with other burning material e.g.,wood etc to enhance burning.The used engine oil burn incompletely releasing metals and green gases to the environment.
The policy makers of the region must consider this factor to mitigate the effect of vehicle contribution.

Key words Alternative energy, fossil fuels, green house gases, Used engine oil, climatic change,temperature rise ,global warming,CC.

Climate Change in Shigar Valley

Climate Change in Shigar Valley

Changes in Local Climate – Precipitation and Temperature Analysis


The aspects of changes in local climate that were assessed included the following:

Change in winter temperatures

The climate of Shigar can be classified as dry continental Mediterranean. The general

perception of the community members was that the winter season has become milder and shorter, and summer is now considerably warmer. April and May were characterized by moderate temperatures, while summer season was identified as very hot, with temperatures

reaching about 400C in July.

The respondents reported a definite increase in winter temperatures over the past 5 years. A few villagers, including a village head, reported that minimum winter temperature has

increased from about -250C (5 years ago) to about -120C in the past 2 years. The village head also mentioned that in 1996 the minimum winter temperature fell to -360C. Respondents

further stated that till 5-10 years ago, winter lasted from November till February and now it

starts in December. They added that there is hardly any snowfall anymore, while 10-15 years ago snowfall was a continuous feature in winter. Earlier, pots would break, oil would freeze, and trees and birds would perish during the harsh winter season.

Discussions revealed that about 5 years ago people required several blankets (3–4) to keep them warm in winters, but since the past 2–3 years one blanket suffices the need. The complete

stock of quilts and blankets in each household is no longer required. Further, the community members said that there has been a drastic reduction in the use of woolen clothing and carpets in homes. Additionally, pedestal fans were never needed in summers before, but now they are in common use. Conversely, now few bukharis (heaters) are needed to warm houses.

6 Community Perceptions on Climate Change in Shigar Valley – A Case Study

Change in quantity of fuelwood required for heating in winters

Respondents reported a reduction of atleast 50% in the use of fuelwood by households during

winters, in the past 5 years. According to one village resident, his fuelwood consumption has drastically reduced, from 200 kg to 25 kg.

Change in flowering time of fruit trees

The main fruit tree species in Shigar are apple, apricot, cherry and pear. A shift in the

flowering time, by about 7–15 days, was reported to have taken place during the past 5-10

years. Previously, flowering took place in mid-April, but since 2007 fruit trees blossom

between the last week of March and the first week of April.

Change in location / altitude of pasture sites

The study revealed that there are 22 grazing sites for the 22 villages of Shigar Town. In other words, there is one site designated to one village. Permission is needed to use another

village’s site.

The respondents were asked to quantify the number of hours it took to travel to the pastures in 2003, as opposed to in 2007-08. The response to this question was divided. 53% of the persons that were interviewed reported that there has been a change in their travel time; some reported a lengthening of travel time by about 2-3 hours, denoting that they now had to travel to higher altitudes to reach good pastures. However, it needs to be mentioned here that thedisparity in response may be due to the varied locations of the pastures that are used by the respondent. The pastures which are already at a higher altitude may not have undergone any change, while those located at lower altitudes may have dried; hence forcing the communities

to go higher up the mountains.

All respondents reported that the quality and quantity of grass in pastures had deteriorated,

due to a decrease in precipitation since 2005-06. The grass that was waist high earlier was now only knee high. Moreover, 10-15 years ago, livestock grazing took 1-2 hours, but now it takes a whole day. However, one respondent notified that fodder is easily available now, due to early greening of trees.


Weeping sea : Documentary on climate change

Weeping sea 
 Duration: 21 minutes
 Language: Malayalam (Subtitled in English)
 Direction: K Rajendran
 Camera: K Rajendran, Rahul R Chandran, Muhammed Basheer
 Editing: Jayakrishnan


An investigation on
How does climate impact marine and fisheries sector?
How does it affect fishermen?

How does human intervention precipitate climate change impacts?

1. Depletion of Mussels.
Location: Elephant mussels hill, Thiruvanandhapuram.
Two varieties of mussels are found in Kerala;Brown mussels and green
mussels. This (September-December) is the season of mussels. Huge
depletion of mussels is being found this season. Depletion is being felt
during last 3 years. According to marine expert this is due to the climate

2. Fishes disappearing

Location; Kovalam beach, Thiruvanandhapuram
Many varieties of fishes are disappearing in Kerala sea shore.. Kilimeen (Mesoprion) is the best example. According to Central Marine and Fisheries research institute, it is one of the best examples of climate change impact on fisheries. Kilimeen is known as the ideal fish for poor. Because of it’s less
cost and good taste. So it’s depletion is widely effected the poor who doesn’t have enough money to purchase fishes of high cost.

3 .How islanders are affected?

Location: Lakshadweep
How lonely islander is being affected? .Lakshadweep is the best example.
Three islands in Lakshadweep, Pitti(Fastest sinking Island) ,Kavarathi,
Agathy are telling their stories.
Here 3 climate change impacts;
A . Water level is rising marginally.
B. Depletion of fishes is being felt
C. Corals are vanishing.
4. Salty water
Location; Mavilakadavu village, Poovar

This is a new phenomenon in many of the villages in Kerala. Water in the well became alty although it is situating 5 or 6 Km away from sea. According to marine expert this is an excellent example of climate change.

5. Human intervention expedites climate change

Location: Puzhikara beach
Once, the beautiful beach Puzhikara, was known for the varieties of fishes. Now it has become a “beach of Eagles”. The beach has been turned as a dumping place of waste. Eco system in the seashore is being scuttled.6. Encroachments

Location; Vembanadu backwater, Alapuzha
This backwater is converted as a lake of Tourism and encroachment. All existing laws are being violated. Encroachments are being done by big corporates. Authorities act as mute spectators.

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