Anaesthetic agent major contributor to global warming: Study

WASHINGTON: Inhaled anaesthetics widely used for surgery-particularly the anaesthetic desflurane – are a major contributor to global warming, according to a new study.

Dr. Susan M. Ryan of University of California and computer scientist Claus J. Nielsen of University of Oslo said that sevoflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane are recognized greenhouse gases.

Using desflurane for one hour is equivalent to 235 to 470 miles of driving.

The anaesthetics “usually are vented out of the building as medical waste gases and remain in the atmosphere for a long time,” the researchers write.

Ryan and Nielsen suggest some “simple, knowledge-based decisions” that anaesthesiologists can follow to minimize their environmental impact unless there are medical reasons to use it and avoiding unnecessarily high anaesthetic flow rates, especially with desflurane.

The study is published in the July issue of Anaesthesia & Analgesia.

From TOI

Biogas plant programme yet to take off in Krishnagiri

People not very enthusiastic about the scheme because of delay in disbursal of subsidy

Subsidy enhanced from Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 8,000 per unit

Only 45 plants came up during last financial year

Slow progress:A beneficiary pouring cow dung mix at a biogas plant in Keelkuppam Panchayat under the Uthangarai Panchayat Union in Krishnagiri district. — Photo: N. Bashkaran.

KRISHNAGIRI: Family type biogas plant programme introduced by the State Government is yet to take off in Krishnagiri district.

The scheme was introduced in the State with a subsidy of Rs. 3,500 per unit of the household biogas plant.

The subsidy has now been enhanced to Rs. 8,000 from November 1, 2009.

Ever since the district was bifurcated from Dharmapuri in 2004, the target fixed for the district with ten panchayat unions was only 62 per fiscal.

Only 45 plants were commissioned in the district during the last financial year.

Of this, the major chunk of the scheme (42 biogas plants) was availed of by the people in Uthangarai block for the last two financial years.

In this block alone, 13 households in Keelkuppam Panchayat, 11 in Kondekuppam, eight in Pavakkal, two in Chandrapatti, five in Mungileri and two in Eggur Panchayat were commissioned over the past two years.

Local residents told The Hindu on Tuesday that a good number of households were eager to put up biogas plants because of the initiative taken by the then officer in charge of the scheme V. Arulmozhi.

She was transferred to the Shoolagiri block till recently, but her services to the rural masses remains, said S. Kalaivani, president of the Keelkuppam Panchayat.

When contacted, the officials at the Office of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) said that the target fixed for the scheme was only 62, but the physical target fixed for the Block Development Officers was about 10 in each block.

During the last financial year, the plants were set up in 13 households in Keelkuppam, 11 in Kondekuppam and seven in other panchayats.

The remaining 14 biogas plants were scattered over the other four panchayat unions, the official said.

People are not showing much interest in this scheme, because of the delay in disbursal of subsidy amount.

The district administration received Rs. 1.18 lakh from the Central Government one month ago and is awaiting the Collector’s approval for disbursal to the beneficiaries for the financial year 2009-10.

A beneficiary’s wife G. Rani from Keelkuppam said the plant was very much economical for them to prepare food items. Manure made from cattle dung was poured into a small tank and mixed.

The waste which comes out of the tank is stored in a septic tank and used as cheap fuel and manure for the crops.

The objective of the programme was to provide fuel for cooking purposes and organic manure to rural households through family type biogas plants.

It was also intended to mitigate drudgery of rural women, reduce pressure on forests, accentuate social benefits and at the same time help improve the sanitary condition of the villages by linking toilets with biogas plants.

R. Arivanantham – From THE HINDU

Flamingoes descend on Agra: Is this a global-warming phenomenon?

AGRA: What are flamingoes doing in Agra at this time of the year? This is the question plaguing environmentalists here after nearly 500 of the gregarious wading birds descended on Agra’s Keitham lake last week.

“I think the flamingoes have lost their way. This is the first time that so many of them have come to Agra. And at this time of the year, it raises some perplexing questions. Is this a global warming-related phenomenon, or has the winter advanced in north Europe? So many questions needing answers,” says Dr KS Rana, environmentalist and a professor of natural sciences.

Ravi Singh, a green farmer and eco-activist of the Barauli Aheer block sees a disturbing trend. “These birds have come looking for nesting spots. Keitham provides good food, the wetland has enough algae to provide plankton for the birds. But why Agra and at this time of the year?” Singh asked.

The forest department’s Uttham RB, in charge of the Keitham lake, said: “The lake provides the right ambience and nesting environment with enough soft mud and adequate feed, but I doubt if they would nest here or stay for long, because the lake’s water level is set to go up once the rain starts. Their nests would be destroyed,” Singh told IANS.

“These birds prefer the Rann of Kutch for nesting. But why are they not going there? Do they fear any problem?… there are no answers at the moment,” he added.

Experts also surmise that these could even be migratory birds, from across the Himalayas or from Gujarat and Rajasthan.

“But if the birds have come from distant shores, it could mean an early winter in the north,” conjectures a researcher in environment, Swabha Takshak, associated with TERI and now conducting a survey on pollution in the Yamuna river near the lake.

Dr R.P. Bharti, chief zonal forester, thinks “it’s the level of humidity and the stable temperature that suits these birds, that has attracted them to the lake. The birds usually come from Afghanistan. Some birds have also been sighted in Bharatpur’s Keoladeo Ghana wildlife sanctuary.”

“Such freak patterns would become more frequent in future. Till some years ago, there used to be more cranes (Saras) in Mathura, but now Mainpuri district has many times more cranes,” he added.

Farmers around the Keitham reservoir, 20 km from the city, however, feared the flamingoes were harbinger of bad news: a poor monsoon this year.

From THE TOI

Have your luxuries, but spare a thought for the environment

Is there a way to live extravagantly and still save the planet?

Extravagance. Amazing cars with powerful engines and huge exhausts and half a kilometre of unleaded petrol per litre, air cons anytime everywhere, huge houses, lots of servants, expensive furniture, real leather, fur, mink, how many of us are drooling as we read this?

luxuries

Let us admit it. We love extravagance. Unless we have religious reasons to stay away from something or the other, we just have to have everything. Let us just admit it; we are all not the Mahatma. That requires an extraordinary strength of mind, and more than a little madness in the blood. How many of us can boast of these characteristics?

But we all would like to see a green world, a clean world, one where you see natural beauty everywhere you turn, where breathing is a healthy and a pleasing thing to do, rather than a necessity you would avoid if you could (how many times do we walk the city with our hands over our noses?).

So how do we achieve both? How do we achieve that elusive balance between extravagance and environmental-friendly living? How do we enjoy our luxuries without feeling guilty, or wondering whether we are contributing to global warming?

By being aware, of course. You want to buy that car? That incredibly expensive car that people will stare at every time you take it out (or rather, try to spot it, because you are not driving below a hundred when you take that car out)? Go ahead, then, buy it.

But also include walking into your routine. Sure, if you want to zip on the highway, that car makes perfect sense. Sure, if you want to show off to your gym buddies, take it there. But to the grocery store? I am pretty sure those people at the grocery store really couldn’t care for the car you come in to buy your milk. Walk. Walk to your grocery store. In fact, why don’t you chart a mental map? Walk to all those places that are from a ten to fifteen-minute walk from your house.

When you go shopping, try parking your car five minutes away from the mall and walk. Saves that much petrol, and stops that much pollution. Five minutes. Can’t kill you. And even if you do have really heavy bags to carry, you could always come back and drive your car to the entrance to take them in, or ask the shop boys to help you. If for no other reason, they will help you for ten bucks out of your pocket.

Can’t be bothered to turn all lights and fans (sorry, a/c) off when you are not using them? All right, don’t. Can you turn one light off? By turning off that one light, you save that much energy. Just a pinch, maybe, but saving that pinch is better than wasting that pinch, don’t you think so?

Too cool to carry your own cloth bag to the grocery store? Ok, don’t. But you can at least make sure they put everything in one, or two bags, rather than using too many bags, cant you? I am sure that is not much of a sacrifice. But it saves that much plastic.

Too lazy to find a dustbin on the road? All right, don’t. But as you are walking, or driving, you will come across garbage heaps on the side of the road. Throw your garbage there at least. That way, you are still showing some civic sense, aren’t you?

Oh yes, go ahead and spend all the money you have on all the luxuries you can buy. Just make sure that you save wherever you can. That is all you need to do. So stop feeling guilty about all the harm you are causing society, and get involved in some any planet-saving activity. The smallest gesture makes a difference. And the word is awareness.

Sophia Yusuf – From THE HINDU

Stress on local action to mitigate the effects of climate change

Safeguarding livelihoods of the affected poor important: N. Ram

CHENNAI: Climate change and the problems associated with it need to be tackled on a global scale but local actions to mitigate its effects are also required, speakers at a symposium said here on Thursday.

SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIES: (From left) Jurgen Porst of the Indo-German Technical Co-operation; C.N. Raghavendran, chairman, CII LEED India; N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu; A. Ramachandran, Director, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, Anna University-Chennai; and Verena Schuler of BMW at a symposium in Chennai on Thursday.

N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, who chaired a panel discussion on the third day of the symposium organised by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai, said though no one was satisfied with the Copenhagen summit, it had been useful. But, there were also concerns that the developed world was trying to dilute the content of the talks, both in Copenhagen and, later, in Bonn.

The conflicting points of view discussed at these meetings were a “good thing,” but they would not bode well for the developing nations unless they showed some “backbone” and unity.

Mr. Ram said that it was also important to take into consideration the safeguarding of livelihoods of the poor who were affected by climate change as the official establishment tended to forget them sometimes.

A. Ramachandran, Director, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, Anna University-Chennai, said the politics involved in global climate change talks was making it difficult to arrive at a consensus.

Instead of waiting for world leaders to come up with an effective global policy, local action towards mitigation of the effects of climate change was essential. In particular, people should focus on helping the ecosystem adapt to climate change while ensuring food security and sustainable development.

He mentioned bio-waste management, water and energy conservation and sustainable agricultural production as areas where mitigation activities could be taken up at the local level.

Jurgen Porst of the Indo-German Technical Co-operation organisation said grassroots activities in water and waste management had resulted in a positive outcome in Bangalore. There was a need to take into account the effects of the measures taken to mitigate climate change. Recycling of lead acid batteries used in place of fossil fuels in transportation and of CFLs used for lighting should also be worked out. .

Verena Schuler of Corporate Strategy and Planning, Environmental, Sustainability and Conservation, BMW, said the carmaker had been working to reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint of a car. This included efficient production of vehicles and research to produce hybrid vehicles. BMW had set the target of 25 per cent reduction (from 2008 figures) in fuel consumption of its cars by 2020.

But, she added that a successful climate change policy required co-operation from all stakeholders including scientists, politicians, the corporate sector and the general public.

C.N. Raghavendran, chairman, CII LEED India, spoke about measures taken by the Green Building Council in India to ensure that energy efficient buildings were created.

Replying to a question on the new Assembly complex, he said it was a “good start,” that a legislative building had obtained ‘gold’ certification.

The symposium was organised with the co-operation of the Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University-Chennai and the Care Earth Trust.

From THE HINDU

Industrial effluents polluting Gujarat rivers, says forum

Pollution contents were 300 to 1,000 per cent more than the norms

The Gujarat Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, a voluntary organisation working for environmental protection, has come out with startling facts on how the badly treated industrial effluents are being dumped in the major rivers in the State and in the sea.

The rivers include the Narmada, Mahisagar, Sabamarti and Damanganga and the sea outlet is in the Gulf of Cambay.

Samiti convener Rohit Prajapati said all the shocking figures about the pollution contents in the sewage disposal had been obtained from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Central Pollution Control Board through the Right to Information Act.

He said that in most cases it was found that the pollution contents were about 300 per cent to over 1,000 per cent more than the norms set by the GPCB and even the effluent treatment plants set up by the State or the Central governments were malfunctioning dumping huge quantities of pollutants in the rivers or the sea as well as afflicting the local population.

He pointed out that in the wake of the Bhopal gas disaster when many affected people and voluntary organisations approached the court of law, the government woke up to the situation and at the intervention of the courts, tried to enforce measures for the treatment of effluents before discharging them in the public places.

But under pressure from the industries, the “polluter pays” theory was given the go-by and in most of the cases the industrial units discharging pollutants were made to pay only 20 per cent of the cost with the remaining 80 per cent coming from the general tax payers, the State and Central government funds and the financial institutions.

The industrial houses did not even bother to maintain the treatment plants or expand its capacity when the load increased. The GPCB kept on issuing notices, but no one ever bothered about violation of its norms and the Board remained a silent spectator doing nothing to make the industrial houses bend.

A legal notice issued by the GPCB to a waste and effluent management company at Sarigam in Bulsar district show the helplessness of the government-controlled body.

The notice, issued on December 4 last, pointed out that the concentrations such as the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Chloride, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, Phenolic Compound, Sulphides, Zinc and other pollutants in the effluents dumped in Tadgam village were much higher than the prescribed norms of the Board.

And yet neither any remedial measure had so far been taken by the company nor did the board take any follow-up action.

The GPCB sources admitted that the wastes discharged in the Damanganga from the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CEPT) of the industrial houses in Vapi contained 347 per cent more COD, 432 per cent more TDS and 196 per cent more Ammoniacal Nitrogen, a serious health hazard, compared to the GPCB prescribed norms.

The conditions were worse in Ankleshwar which carry into the Gulf of Cambay 248 per cent more COD and 1,328 per cent more Ammoniacal Nitrogen.

The effluent channel project of Vadodara dumping waste water into the estuary of the Mahisagar was found to be carrying 300 to 700 per cent more than the prescribed norms of COD, BOD, Ammoniacal Nitrogen, TDS, Cyanide, phenols and other hazardous pollutants.

The pollution contents in the effluents dumped in the Sabarmati from the industrial estates in Vatva, Odhav and Naroda around Ahmedabad city were found to be alarmingly high, 2,926 per cent more of COD, 2,520 per cent more of Ammoniacal Nitrogen and 780 per cent more of TDS.

The much-touted Rs.131-crore Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) — constructed with the State and the Central governments and the State-owned Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation contributing over Rs.109 crore and the defaulting industries a mere Rs.21 crore, and inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi in January 2007 for treatment of water wastes of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia chemical industrial estates — was found to be equally in a pathetic condition.

From THE HINDU

Electric cars can’t save climate: Experts

London, June 18 (IANS) The hope that battery-operated cars can save the earth’s climate by reducing carbon emission is just a ‘fantasy’.

According to experts, the technology used for electric car batteries is so backward that they will die within two years.

The so-called energy efficient cars will be extremely expensive and cover far less distance on one battery charge than the manufacturers claim, they said.

The research carried out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology suggests that claims about the performance of electric vehicles are ‘pure fantasy’.

The researchers found the batteries are likely to burn out within two years, requiring expensive replacements.

The batteries, which use the same lithium-ion technology as mobile phones, are unlikely to be able to run for more than 100 miles (160 km) between charges, the Daily Mail reported.

Experts said the gap in performance between conventional cars and electric vehicles is so huge that consumers will not want to convert their vehicles to electric ones.

Citing the examples of Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf which is capable of travelling more than 360 miles (576 km)on one tank of fuel, the researchers said, for an electric car to offer a similar level of performance, the batteries alone would weigh 1.5 tonnes.

They would be larger than an entire conventional car and cost approximately 100,000 pounds sterling, they warned.

From Yahoo