Indonesia Seeds Clouds After Flooding Kills 43
After nearly 15 inches of rain fell in one day and caused flash floods and landslides in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, that destroyed 60,000 homes and killed at least 43 people, the Indonesian Air Force sent two planes to drop salt on approaching rain clouds to break them up before they reached the city, according to Reuters.
The slowly sinking capital that is crumbling into the Java Sea has started the new year with a humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of people were displaced and over 190,000 were evacuated by the sudden deluge on Dec. 31, 2019.
To stave off further damage, Indonesia's technology agency BPPT teamed up with the air force to carry out three rounds of cloud seeding earlier today, with more expected when needed, a BPPT official said, as Reuters reported.
"All clouds moving towards the Greater Jakarta area, which are estimated to lead to precipitation there, will be shot with NaCl (sodium chloride) material," Indonesia's technology agency BPPT explained in a statement, as the BBC reported.
The two small planes dropped salt on rain clouds above the Sundra Strait. A larger plane was loaded and on standby if more rain clouds approached the city, according to the Guardian.
Indonesian authorities often use cloud seeding or salt flares into clouds to try to catalyze rainfall to help put out forest fires during the dry season, according to the Guardian.
"We will do cloud seeding every day as needed," said BPPT chief Hammam Riza to reporters, as Reuters reported.
Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, who last year announced that the capital would move to East Kalimantan on Borneo to help relieve Jakarta's overcrowding, blamed stalled flood control infrastructure projects for the disaster. Meanwhile, authorities are using hundreds of pumps to try to suck water out of residential areas and from public infrastructure like roads and railways, as the Guardian reported.
However, even in areas where the water has receded, mud and debris have prevented people from returning to their homes, according to the BBC.
Jakarta regularly experiences flooding during the rainy season, which started in November. This week's flood was "one of the most extreme rainfall" events since records began in 1866, the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said on Friday, as Reuters reported.
This week's flooding is the worst since 2013 when dozens were killed by overflowing canals when monsoons struck the city. More than 50 people died in floods in the capital in 2007, as Reuters reported.
"This year's flooding was phenomenally bad because of the extremely high rainfall," said Yayat Supriatna, a Jakarta-based urban planning expert, as the AFP reported.
VIDEO: 🇮🇩 Hundreds of people displaced because of severe flooding in the Indonesian capital #Jakarta hold Friday pr… https://t.co/mPrp4C87qr— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency)1578057300.0
He added that Jakarta's many infrastructure problems, including poor drainage and rampant overdevelopment, worsened the situation.
"Yes, the weather conditions were terrible, but this was exacerbated by awful urban planning," said Supriatna.
Authorities said 17 died in floodwaters, while 12 were killed in landslides. Several people died after coming into contact with downed live electrical lines and from hypothermia. As a precaution, officials turned off the electricity in many districts in Jakarta as a precaution, according to the UPI.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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