India’s failure to provide LPG to rural areas is killing people and ruining the country’s air Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons Deepa Padmanaban · Today · 04:00 pm About 1 million deaths occur annually in India due to household air pollution caused by fumes from cooking, heating and lighting activities. 5K Total Views Every evening on the smoky, denuded northern outskirts of Bangalore, Renuka (she uses only one name), a domestic worker in her mid-30s, picks pieces from a woodpile in a corner of her home, a narrow two-room brick house, twigs collected from the road or wooden pieces purchased from a furniture factory at Rs 60 per kg. Her face drawn and wan, Renuka lights a fire in a mud stove that she built. As the wood begins to burn, thick smoke gathers, and an acrid odour fills the room and floats out of her shanty. Renuka’s is one of 142 million rural Indian households that use firewood and other solid fuels, such as animal dung, charcoal, crop waste and coal, as their primary source of household energy. The soot so generated quietly darkens the skies above India, shortens life spans – including 100,000 children who die prematurely every year and 171 who are still-born – disrupts the monsoons and threatens the Himalayan snows. About 1 million deaths occur annually in India due to household air pollution caused by fumes from cooking, heating and lighting activities. A great dent was to have been made to these dangers and deaths with 55 million new, clean-burning LPG gas connections to have been made available to 75% of the population between 2009 and 2015, under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana (Rajiv Gandhi LPG Rural Distribution Scheme). The idea was to set up low-cost distribution agencies across rural India, so that fewer Indian households rely on solid-fuel, soot-emitting cookstoves, such as the one Renuka uses on Bangalore’s edges. It appears that idea has been only partially successful, with no more than 7% of the rural population using LPG, as of February 1, 2015, according to IndiaSpend calculations, based on data procured from the government. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a development advisory, put that figure at 12% in this 2013 study, using 2010 data. IndiaSpend‘s attempts to directly source details about the rural LPG programme from the Ministry of Petroleum and Gas were unsuccessful. Each department contacted, the office of the director (Gas Projects), department of LPG and office of the undersecretary, passed the responsibility of answering questions to the other. The only information forthcoming was that the scheme was being “streamlined” through public-sector oil companies. “The Rajiv Gandhi LPG scheme is basically a business model to penetrate into the rural areas, and to set up distribution centres in viable places,” said V. Jaychandran, retired executive director of Indian Oil. “The idea is to have more coverage (sic) across the country and bring the commodity to the doorstep of the customer.” As of February 1, 2015, 4,183 agencies had been commissioned as part of the plan to take LPG to rural India. Nearly 9.5 million of 17.8 million LPG consumers are now in rural areas, according to the corporate communication department of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, a public-sector oil company. Since these numbers are inadequate to clear the skies over India, firewood and other local, solid fuels predominate. Among South and South-East Asian countries, India stands somewhere in the middle, better than Bangladesh and Nepal, and worse than China and Thailand. Source: CleanCookstoves.org Expectedly, rural India consumes a much higher amount of solid fuels at 82%, although this is a slight reduction from 1990, when the total usage was 90%, according to this analysis. There is a shift towards cleaner fuels, but it is slow. In 1993, 2% of the rural population used LPG; in 2010, Even if 12% of the rural population now uses LPG, that is still very low. In contrast, the population of LPG users in urban India went up to 65% in 2010 from 30% in 1993. Source: CleanCookstoves.org; Figures in chart have been rounded Ten states in India contribute about 75% of the total solid-fuel use. Bihar leads with 90% of households using solid fuels, and Tamil Nadu with 44% is the least. Firewood is the most popular solid fuel across India. Source: CleanCookstoves.org Darkening skies threatening Himalayas, poisoning lungs Use of solid fuel not only damages the environment but has an adverse impact on health and society. Burning solid fuels is the leading cause of household air pollution; smoke also travels outside causing ambient air pollution, according to this United Nations document. Source: World Bank Burning solid fuels releases some of the most important contributors to climate change, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other short-lived climate pollutants. Products of incomplete combustion, methane and black carbon particles, which are greater greenhouse pollutants than carbon dioxide, are also released. Black carbon – the light-absorbing part of soot – is much better at trapping heat than CO2 and can travel long distances. Black carbon is estimated to contribute the equivalent of a quarter to half of carbon dioxide globally. About 70%-80% of black carbon comes from households in developing countries. In South Asia, more than half of the black carbon comes from incomplete combustion of household solid fuel, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Black carbon is a serious threat to the melting of glaciers and a grave concern in South Asia due to its potential impact on the Himalayas. Black carbon also disrupts the monsoons, which threatens water availability and food security. Source: United Nations Environment Programme About 780 million people in India are affected by household air pollution, mainly caused by smoke from burning solid fuels for cooking, according to a report by the Global Alliance for clean cookstoves. Women and young children are the most affected by the health problems associated with exposure to cookstove smoke, with more than 100,000 children in India dying every year, as a result of acute lower respiratory infections, including pneumonias, caused by soot from solid fuels. Solid fuels emit substantial amounts of health-damaging pollutants, including particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, formaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, and polyaromatic compounds such as benzo(α)pyrene. Solid-fuel soot accounted for about 2.6% of illnesses worldwide in 2000, according to a global comparative risk assessment organized by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Respiratory infections and chronic lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are commonly associated with exposure to household pollution. Respiratory tract cancers and lung cancer are strongly associated with pollution from coal burning. There is also growing evidence of other effects on health from indoor-pollution, such as tuberculosis, cataracts, low birth-weight and heart disease. Nearly 39% of early neonatal stillbirths were attributed to cooking fumes, according to thisstudy that examined the relationship between biomass fuel-use and stillbirths in India. Another study that collated epidemiological literature linking solid fuel use with a variety of health outcomes found strong evidence for acute lower respiratory infection in children, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and lung cancer in adult women. Note: “Strong” indicates that the results of studies on household pollution in developing countries reveal a consistent, sizeable, plausible and coherent relationship; “Moderate-I” refers to an association between Solid Fuel Use and a health outcome for which there is strong evidence for specific age and sex groups; “Moderate-II”, for which there is as yet no strong evidence; Source: World Health Organisation Besides the impact on health and the environment, there is an effect on society too. Gathering solid-fuel is time-consuming drudgery, taking away from other activities, such as childcare or school study. Wood harvesting has led to pressure on natural resources and forests and increase in deforestation, which in turn causes reduced carbon uptake by trees. Unsustainable collection of wood can contribute to loss of forest canopy, mud-slides, and loss of biodiversity. The search for a better stove and cleaner fuel Improved stoves are the cheapest way of improving health, according to a WHO report. In Africa and South and South-east Asia, the regions with the greatest number of people exposed to toxic soot, improved stoves could reduce the burden of disease associated with indoor air pollution for an average yearly cost of Rs. 30,000 to 37,000 per healthy year gained. Several attempts have been made in the past by the Indian government to provide improved stoves.The National Program on Improved Chulhas (stoves), started in 1985, aimed at conserving fuel and reducing smoke by using chimneys. About 35 million stoves were installed, according to a study published in the journal Energy for Sustainable Development, but it was discontinued in 2002 because the stoves did not last or work well enough. Another programme, The National Biomass Cookstoves Initiative, was launched in late 2009 to distribute clean, energy efficient cookstoves. Several NGOs and private initiatives have in the recent years evolved new, improved cook stoves and distribution programmes. Success has been partial, with less than a third of the solid fuel-using population switching to clean cookstoves. “There are many challenges in getting people to shift from traditional to improved cookstoves,” said Sudha Setty, Indian representative of The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. “Women, who are the end users, are not decision makers, so male members need to be convinced. For them, economic benefits make more sense than health benefits.” LPG would be an ideal substitute, but supply depots are expensive and–for people like Renuka–a cylinder is simply too costly. This article was originally published on IndiaSpend.com, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit. We welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Definition Climatefarming en francais
Definition Climate FarmingClimate farming uses agricultural means to keep carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses from escaping into the atmosphere. Like organic farming, climate farming maintains biodiversity and ecological balance on productive, argicultural land. But climate farmers like Hans-Peter Schmidt go a step further and covert leftover organic mass into biochar, a solid carbon compound that can improve soil quality. Biochar production also creates a kind of gas that can then be burned to help generate power. A climate farm could grow food, generate power, and help keep carbon out of the air.
Le climatefarming est souvent décrit comme une méthode agricole au moyen de laquelle du CO2 est prélevé de l’atmosphère et stocké de façon stable dans le sol sous forme de carbone. Ceci pourrait permettre de freiner le changement climatique. Mais le climatefarming, c’est également un concept écologique durable pour l’agriculture du future, qui produira aussi bien des denrées alimentaires que de l’énergie et de l’air propre, encouragera la biodiversité et protégera le paysage.
Au travers de leurs feuilles, les plantes prélèvent du dioxyde de carbone contenu dans l’air et le transforment à l’aide de la lumière, de substances minérales et de l’eau en molécules carboniques. Lorsque la plante meurt ou pourrit, ou si elle est mangée et digérée, les molécules longues de carbone sont de nouveau scindées. Ce processus libère de l’énergie et donc du carbone qui, composé à plus de 99% de CO2, s’évapore dans l’atmosphère. (en savoir plus ...)
Google News: deforestation
Dienstag, 24. Februar 2015
Study: Biochar alters water flow to improve sand, clay
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 9:00 AM
HOUSTON — As more gardeners and farmers add ground charcoal, or biochar, to soil to both boost crop yields and counter global climate change, a new study by researchers at Rice University and Colorado College could help settle the debate about one of biochar’s biggest benefits — the seemingly contradictory ability to make clay soils drain faster and sandy soils drain slower.
The study, available online in the journal PLOS ONE, offers the first detailed explanation for the hydrological mystery.
“Understanding the controls on water movement through biochar-amended soils is critical to explaining other frequently reported benefits of biochar, such as nutrient retention, carbon sequestration and reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” said lead author Rebecca Barnes, an assistant professor of environmental science at Colorado College, who began the research while serving as a postdoctoral research associate at Rice.
Biochar can be produced from waste wood, manure or leaves, and its popularity among do-it-yourselfers and gardening buffs took off after archaeological studies found that biochar added to soils in the Amazon more than 1,000 years ago still was improving the water- and nutrient-holding abilities of those poor soils today.
Studies over the past decade have found that biochar soil amendments can either increase or decrease the amount of water that soil holds, but it has been tough for experts to explain why this occurs, due partly to conflicting results from many different field tests.
In the new study, biogeochemists at Rice conducted side-by-side tests of the water-holding ability of three soil types — sand, clay and topsoil — both with and without added biochar. The biochar used in the experiments, which was derived from Texas mesquite wood, was prepared to exacting standards in the lab of Rice geochemist Caroline Masiello, a study co-author, to ensure comparable results across soil types.
“Not all biochar is created equal, and one of the important lessons of recent studies is that the hydrological properties of biochar can vary widely, depending on the temperature and time in the reactor,” Masiello said. “It’s important to use the right recipe for the biochar that you want to make, and the differences can be subtle. For scientific studies, it is critical to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.”
Barnes said the team chose to make its comparison with simple, relatively homogenous soil materials to compare results to established hydrologic models that relate water flow to a soil’s physical properties, like bulk density and porosity.
“This is what helped us explain the seeming disconnect that people have noted when amending soils with biochar,” she said. “Biochar is light and highly porous. When biochar is added to clay, it makes the soil less dense, and it increases hydraulic conductivity, which makes intuitive sense. Adding biochar to sand also makes it less dense, so one would expect that soil to drain more quickly, as well; but in fact, researchers have found that biochar-amended sand holds water longer.”
Study co-author Brandon Dugan, assistant professor of Earth science at Rice, said, “We hypothesize that this is likely due to the presence of two flow paths for water through soil-biochar mixtures. One pathway is between the soil and biochar grains, and a second pathway is water moving through the biochar itself.”
Barnes said the highly porous structure of biochar makes each of these pathways more torturous than the pathway that water would take through sand alone. Moreover, the surface chemistry of biochar — both on external surfaces and inside pores — is likely to promote absorption and further slow the movement of water.
“By adding our results to the growing body of literature, we show that when biochar is added to sand or other coarse-grained soils, there is a simultaneous decrease in bulk density and hydraulic conductivity, as opposed to the expected result of decreased bulk density correlated with increased hydraulic conductivity that has been observed for other soil types,” Barnes said.
The study is the latest from Rice’s interdisciplinary Biochar Research Group, which formed in the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, when the city of Houston called for ideas about how to get rid of an estimated 5.6 million cubic yards of fallen trees, broken branches and dead greenery left behind by the storm.
The Rice group won the $10,000 grand prize in the city’s “Recycle Ike” contest and used the money to jumpstart a research program that has since received support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Rice’s Faculty Initiative Fund, Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability and Rice’s Institute of Bioscience and Bioengineering.
Study co-authors include co-first author Morgan Gallagher, a former Rice graduate student who now is a postdoctoral researcher at Rice and an associate in research at Duke University’s Center for Global Change, and Rice graduate student Zuolin Liu.
Biochar is ground charcoal that’s added to soil to both boost crop yields and counter global climate change.
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