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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Highest in 800,000 Years, says World Meteorological Organization

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A coal-fired plant
A coal-fired plant is seen emitting carbon dioxide, in Juliette, Georgia.VOA

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports greenhouse gas emissions in Earth’s atmosphere have reached the highest level ever in 800,000 years. The figure was made public at the launch in Geneva of the WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

The report was released in advance of next week’s U.N. climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany. It is meant as a wake-up call to nations that time is running out to take the necessary actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The WMO reports CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere surged at record-breaking speed last year to historic highs. The WMO says CO2 levels are now 145 percent higher than pre-industrial levels. It warns this has the potential to change the climate systems in unprecedented and disastrous ways.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas says this is already occurring. He told VOA scientists have been able to track the variability of carbon dioxide concentrations thousands of years back.

“We have far exceeded this natural variability that took place in the past and we are giving extra energy for our planet. We have already started seeing a growing amount of natural disasters related to weather. And, for example, the economic losses related to these disasters, they have tripled since the 80s. So, that is a consequence of climate change,” Taalas said.

The report finds CO2 contributes more than 60 percent to the heating of the planet and that human activity and natural climate variability are behind the substantial increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

Taalas warned temperature increases will reach dangerous levels by the end of the century without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. He said measures to mitigate climate change must be urgently taken.

Taalas said work on developing renewable energy systems and transportation systems, including electric and hybrid cars, must be accelerated. He added these low carbon technologies can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering the Earth’s heat for future generations.(VOA)

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Americans Are Believed To Throw Away One-Third of The Available Food. How Then Are They Dealing With It? Read On To Know What Is Happening at The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

If an increasing number of people subscribe to the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle way of life, a lot of the world's problem of waste generation will be solved. Read in to know what America is already doing!

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  • One-third of the world’s food is lost or wasted
  • Treatment plants are now using food waste to convert energy
  • The move also cuts on emission of harmful gasses into the atmosphere

Brooklyn, August 7, 2017 : Americans are believed to throw away about one-third of the available food. However, what we see as trash is also seen as a business opportunity by a few. A facility known as the New Town Creek waste Water Treatment plant is using wasted food from Brooklyn and turning it into electricity, completely justifying the concept of the 3-C’s we have all studied about in school.

If an increasing number of people around the world subscribe to the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle way of life, a lot of the world’s problem of waste generation will be addressed, and eventually solved.

But presently, the concept seems too vague and utopian. So what are we doing right about NOW?

Mechanisms have been developed to convert all the waste produced into clean energy and some other usable product. Now if you ask me how that is contributing to a better society, I’d like to tell you that heaps and mountain-full of landfills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. And in the longer run, the practice is also going to reduce enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emission.

For a number of years now, New York’s fourteen waste-water treatment plants have been processing the city’s raw sewage into clean water, fertilizers and methane, which forms the main component of natural gas. Eventually, New York authorities realized that huge amounts of other organic wastes sent to landfills can also be converted to energy.

Pam Elarado of the New York Bureau of Waste Water Treatment told VOA news that the food waste is similar to the sewage generated at a waste-water treatment plant.

For the same purpose, in the eight egg-shaped digesters at the New Town Creek Waste Water Treatment plant, the bacteria slowly break down the so called bio-slurry into a more stable material, useful in the gas.

Newtown Creek Waste Water plant, operational since 2010, is the largest sewage treatment facility operated by the New York City Department of environmental protection.

The plant is instilled with digester eggs that convert food waste into methane gas.
The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, as seen from atop the Pulaski Bridge, Brooklyn. Wikimedia

The plant overlooks conversion of organic waste from kitchens, homes, hotels, and food-factories into cleaner energy and compost.

Frank Lonear told VOA news that the tank currently is capable of holding about three million gallons of a combination of bio-sewage which comes from waste-water and also food waste. “It sits here on an average of about 30 days for the bacteria to break it down to create methane gas”, he said.

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The plant currently is capable of processing about 60 tonnes of food waste daily but plans to increase the capacity to 250 tonnes. The daily production of methane is about 85,000 cubic meters which needs additional treatment to be turned into natural gas.

If all the food waste being processed at the plant was instead just dumped at a landfill, it still would have provided methane in the process of rotting and decomposition. However in such a condition, all the released gas would have sparked directly into the atmosphere thus, contributing to climate change. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, after all

In such a scenario, this practice of anaerobic conversion is diverting food waste from landfills, cutting down on harmful emissions and also creating a few jobs.

According to reports, New York embraced the practice of food-waste conversion very quickly. Sarah Schiwal, a resident of Brooklyn swears by the practice and said, “It is so simple and it cuts down on our trash. I can’t understand by anybody wouldn’t want it”, as told to VOA news.

ALSO READ: Wasting Food is like being “Carbon Criminal,” Campaigns to be Initiated soon against it, says Environment Minister of India

If you’re wondering that the plant contributes only scientifically to the city, then you’re mistaken. The egg shaped digesters are illuminated at night time and provide a rather aesthetic and pleasing cityscape along the Brooklyn waterfront.

Newtown creek wastewater digestive plant in among the largest such plants in New York.
Anaerobic conversion takes place in huge egg-shaped digesters that are also illuminated at night to beautify the surrounding areas (representational image). Pixabay

While it cannot be denied that these plants are solving a great deal of the problem, the fact remains that the root cause of the problem is still not being addressed. Consumers continue to throw away a staggering amount of food, which needs to be taken into account and kept under check.

At present, wastage from food makes up the largest share of the constitution of landfills and Americans are believed to throw away about one-third of the available food. While on one hand it is important to devise ways to prevent food waste, it is also important to keep the food from being wasted. Keeping the waste out of landfills and producing clean energy in its place can go a long way for mankind to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.


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India along with others moving towards centre stage of clean energy transition: Clean-energy leadership begins in China

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Solar panels absorbing sunlight. Pixabay

China, May 30, 2017: There is a new reality in clean energy. The world’s major emerging economies — including China, India, and several others — are moving to the centre stage of the clean energy transition. By betting heavily on energy efficiency, on wind, solar and other renewables, as well as other less carbon-intensive technologies, these countries are increasingly leading the way.

This is the significance of the top-level meeting of energy ministers from the world’s biggest economies in Beijing next month. The fact that representatives from fossil-fuel producers like Mexico and Saudi Arabia will join renewable-energy pioneers like Denmark and Germany for a top-level meeting in China is not a coincidence. We are witnessing a global consensus that the key to energy transition will reside with decisions made in emerging economies.

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There are many reasons to stand for clean energy today. These can range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also battling the scourge of air pollution, improving energy security by reducing the dependency on fossil fuels, diversifying supply, creating high-tech jobs or fostering innovation. As such, approaches to clean energy will vary from country to country.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), all of the projected growth in energy demand in the next 25 years will take place in emerging and developing countries. This means that implementing the right kind of policies and technologies will be critical to ensure stable supplies as well as meeting desirable environmental outcomes.

The good news is that this is happening. India was the first country to set comprehensive quality and performance standards for light emitting diodes (LEDs), and it expects to save as much as 277 terawatt-hours of electricity between 2015 and 2030, avoiding 254 million metric tons of CO2 emissions or the equivalent of 90 coal-fired power plants.

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Another upshot is that by committing to these new clean technologies, countries like China are helping drive down costs for the benefit of the world. China is now the undisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion worldwide, and the IEA forecasts that by 2021, more than one-third of global cumulative solar PV and onshore wind capacity will be located in China.

Recently announced renewable projects have broken new records, with power purchase agreements for several onshore wind and large solar PV farms now below $50/MWh.

As clean energy is increasingly driven by the emerging economies, global political leadership in advancing clean energy will be increasingly shared. This is precisely the function of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), which was created in 2010, and whose goal is to form a partnership that brings together major industrialised and emerging economies to focus on clean energy technologies and policies, reduce environmental impacts, and ensure reliable and affordable supplies.

Our timing is critical. Action by the 25 CEM members, representing 90 per cent of global energy investment and 75 per cent of global emissions, is crucial for making the world less carbon-intensive than today.

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In Beijing, our focus will be to provide a collaborative environment to tackle these challenges in areas ranging from transportation, buildings to the power sector. Our governments will seek to increase electric mobility, with a target to reach 30 per cent of the new vehicle fleet by 2030. The recent announcements of the Indian government will go a long way towards this end. Another challenge for CEM governments will be to increase EV charging providers by a factor of 10 in the next five years. Other priority areas include improving efficiency in buildings, which account for nearly a third of all energy consumption and 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the power sector, the CEM is seeking to move away from the coal-or-renewables paradigm. Coal was the fuel of the last 100 years, and renewables will likely be the dominant fuel of the next century for many countries. At the same time, we must recognise that so-called dispatchable power plants — including thermal generation — are key for many countries to ensure energy security during the transition to a cleaner energy system. And so, the Beijing meeting will launch new work to address this challenge.

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To succeed, this energy transition will require the full backing of industry. This is why the CEM includes top-level executives from companies involved in all aspects of the energy field who offer a unique on-the-ground perspective and ultimately determine where investments end up going. They are often the first to recognise what drives clean energy uptake.

This is a unique time for the CEM, which is entering a new phase of cooperation and growth in our short history. The world of energy is changing. Facts on the ground unequivocally point to the key role of emerging economies in clean energy. Come the meeting in Beijing June 6-8, we are likely to see this reflected in the leadership of the CEM. (IANS)

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2011 to 2015 Hottest Period on Record, Warming is speeding up trends of Rising Sea Levels: WMO Report

2015 was the hottest single year on record, with 2014 coming in second

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A man cools off from a public tap after filling bottles during intense hot weather in Karachi, Pakistan, June 23, 2015. VOA

November 9, 2016: The five years from 2011 through 2015 were the hottest on record, and the warming is speeding up trends of rising sea levels and more extreme weather worldwide, according to a new report.

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The report says global temperatures over the past five years were an average of 0.57 degrees Celsius higher than temperatures measured during the second half of the last century.

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It says 2015 was the hottest single year on record, with 2014 coming in second.

The report says global sea surface temperatures also hit a new peak in 2015, and that Arctic sea ice, the ice sheet on Greenland and northern hemisphere snow cover are all in decline.

One exception to the trend is sea ice around Antarctica, which was above average for much of the five-year period.

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The WMO says the warming trend is the result of man-made greenhouse gases, and has made extreme weather events more likely. Examples highlighted in the report include the 2010 to 2012 East African drought, which killed more than 250,000 people, 2015 heat waves in India and Pakistan that killed more than 4,000, and Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 7,800 people in the Philippines in 2013. (VOA)