The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
India Air Pollution Crisis Worsens: Government Plans to Spray Capital With Water
A four-day old noxious blanket of smog resting on the Indian capital, New Delhi, that officials expect to worsen over the weekend has prompted a plan to spray water over the city.
On Friday, the government announced, in an unprecedented move, it was finalizing plans to spray water from 100 meters above the city, Reuters reported. It remains unclear how much of the densely populated city of 22 million would be sprayed.
Government officials have closed 6,000 schools, banned all but the most essential commercial trucks, and are re-introducing an "odd-even" scheme which allows vehicle with plates ending in an odd number to operate on one day and even-numbered vehicles the next day.
Despite these measures, the air in New Deli has remained "hazardous" for days. Illegal crop burning, vehicle emissions, industrial pollution and dust from sprawling construction sites have contributed to the pollution emergency. By 11 am on Friday, the U.S. embassy air quality data for PM 2.5 showed levels had reached 550, while the safe limit is 50, according to U.S. embassy standards.
PM 2.5 is particulate matter about 30 times finer than human hair that can be inhaled into the lungs and blood stream, causing cardiac arrest, strokes, lung cancer and a host of other respiratory diseases.
Residents in New Delhi are reporting burning eyes, headaches and nausea. The air is filled with heavy metals and other carcinogens at 30 times WHO limits. Medical professionals consider those levels of pollution at least as harmful as 50 cigarettes a day.
The situation is so dire that doctors are seeing a change in health demographics. Doctors are now reporting that half of their lung cancer patients in New Delhi are non-smokers. Earlier in the week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of Delhi, called the capital a "gas chamber."
New Delhi is surrounded by thirteen coal-driven power plants all lying within 185-mile radius of the city. The government ordered one of these plants closed in an attempt to mitigate the pollution. But Delhi's pollution woes in part lie outside of the city. Delhi is neighbored by Punjab and Haryana—large agrarian states that burn millions of tons of crop waste every year around October in preparation for the winter wheat crop.
The National Green Tribunal, an Indian environmental governing body, previously directed the Delhi government and neighboring states to halt the burning of crop residue, but without sufficient funds for machinery, the practice continues. Government data shows the federal government had committed nearly $20 million to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to help manage crop residue and farm mechanization. Government figures also showed that Punjab had not utilized the fund.
Unless these regions are able to cut local pollution, New Delhi's crisis will likely continue, experts warn.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Turrentine
First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Inslee's 'Evergreen Economy Plan' Calls for $9 Trillion Investment in New Green Jobs, Would Help Fossil Fuel Workers Transition
By Julia Conley
A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.