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from The Great Debate UK:

How cities can help protect citizens from air pollution

--Julian Hunt is former Director-General at the Met Office and Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology. Amy Stidworthy is Principal Consultant at Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants. The opinions expressed are their own.--

The Saharan dust in London last week affected the atmosphere, and caused irritation to the many people who suffer from breathing difficulties. Just as in the smog of the 1950s and of Dickens’s day, which was caused by soot from coal burning, the cloud of dust particles was dense enough that less sunlight made it through to ground level.

When this happens, polluting gases and particles of all kinds are not dispersed upwards, and are concentrated in layers below the tops of the tallest buildings. When finally the sun broke through last week, the dust was dispersed and for those suffering from the effect of the dust there was some relief.

But London is fortunate because such meteorological events are very unlikely to occur in the height of summer when it may coincide with a heat wave. Other countries, in southern Europe for example, may not be so fortunate. In large Asian cities, huge sandstorms, dust from coal combustion and industrial sources, and emissions from motor vehicles can lead to health effects so severe that an 8-year old girl living near a crossroads was reported to have died from particle-related lung cancer.

from Breakingviews:

Anadarko’s $5.1 bln settlement adds up in market

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By Kevin Allison
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Stock investors seem to have a firm grip on Anadarko Petroleum’s toxic waste settlement. The record $5.15 billion settlement on Thursday, covering years of environmental claims, was at the low end of a court-defined range which had a midpoint of $9.8 billion. The 15 percent jump in the oil company’s market capitalization is mostly explained by those numbers. And it brings Anadarko’s 12-month stock performance nearly back in line with the S&P 500 after a bumpy ride.

from Photographers' Blog:

Tainted paradise

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Sergio Moraes

Back in the 1960s, when I was just a kid, I remember watching swimmers in Guanabara Bay and seeing dolphins race alongside the ferries that transported people to and from the city of Niteroi and Paqueta Island. Beaches like Icarai in Niteroi and Cocota on Governor’s Island were very popular.

So I felt sad when I took a boat through the bay on an assignment recently and photographed discarded sofas, old children’s toys, rubber tires and a toilet seat among many other objects that littered the filthy water.

from Breakingviews:

China index: growth cannot cloud judgment on smog

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By Katrina Hamlin

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist.  The opinions expressed are her own.

Smog in China is losing its silver lining. Bad emissions were once associated with economic growth, since they meant power plants and factories were active. Citizens broadly accepted the trade-off. But the relationship may be changing. Breakingviews’ latest Tea Leaf Index reading shows growth prospects are the worst since July 2009 – even though the sub-index for pollution is at its second highest average level monthly in six years.

from The Great Debate UK:

Changing weather patterns mean meteorology is more important than ever

--Julian Hunt is former Director-General of the UK Met Office, and a Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.--

Since the 1990s, the United Kingdom has celebrated National Science and Engineering Week every year to coincide with World Meteorological Day (which this year is Sunday 23 March). This is fitting, given that meteorologists, whose original interest was more in the effects of outer space (especially meteors and lightning) than weather, work with scientists and engineers ever more closely, both in the use of modern measurement techniques and in making conceptual advances in mathematics and physics.

from Breakingviews:

Smog obscures looming water risk for China

By Katrina Hamlin
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

China’s smog is visible, and vexes the urban rich. But attempts to fix the looming “airpocalypse” may be exacerbating another acute risk: water. If the country’s planners really want to make growth sustainable, they will need to pull the plug on cheap supply for thirsty energy companies and consumers.

from Breakingviews:

Coal typifies China’s reform: it’s hard and dirty

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By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Coal is much like China’s reform challenge: hard and dirty. Even as politicians fret about the country’s chronic smog, they approved 100 million tonnes of new mining capacity in 2013, six times the amount for the previous year. That will add to the 300 million tonnes or so already due to come on stream in 2014. The habit is proving difficult to kick.

from Photographers' Blog:

Welcome to Chiberia

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Chicago, Illinois

By Jim Young

It was dubbed "Chiberia" here in Chicago: record low temperatures with a wind chill in the -40 Celsius range (-40 Fahrenheit).

I knew it was coming. I had been dodging the bullet for two winters in Chicago and eventually "real cold" had to arrive here sooner or later. I had survived 30+ years of Canadian winters and lived through a -50C (-58F) wind chill in Ottawa, but I have had two of the nicest winters in my life in the Windy City. In February 2012 it was 80F and I was walking around in flip flops, but certainly not this week.

from The Great Debate UK:

Europe’s carbon trading system needs radical reform, not stop-gap measures

--Laurens de Vries is an assistant professor, Joern Richstein is a doctoral candidate, Emile Chappin is an assistant professor, and Gerard Dijkema is an associate professor at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. The opinions expressed are their own.--

The European Parliament voted on December 10 to delay sales of around 900 million carbon permits for the EU greenhouse-gas Emission Trading System (EU-ETS). The deferral (or so-called back-loading) may help correct the substantial oversupply of permits which have caused the carbon price to fall below 5 euros, a sixth of the price in 2008.

from MuniLand:

America’s Thanksgiving

This week we give thanks to those who have worked to ensure a clean and beautiful environment in America. We are fortunate that our air and water is sanitary and safe. It is healthy for us and it has profound economic consequences for the nation.

China recently moved to address its enormous and complex environment problem. From e360 at Yale:

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