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Massive Benefits Could Be Achieved If Air Pollution Is Controlled In Asia: UN

One billion people would enjoy high air quality, while the number exposed to the worst pollution would be cut by 80 percent to 430 million.

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India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
A man walks in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

Asia could reap massive benefits in health, environment, agriculture and economic growth if governments implement 25 policies such as banning the burning of household waste and cutting industrial emissions, according to a U.N. report.

Air pollution is a health risk for 4 billion people in Asia, killing about 4 million of them annually, and efforts to tackle the problem are already on track to ensure air pollution is no worse in 2030, but huge advances could be made, the report said.

The report’s 25 recommendations would cost an estimated $300 billion to $600 billion annually, a big investment but loose change compared with a projected $12 trillion economic growth increase.

The publication of the report, “Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science based solutions,” on Tuesday coincides with the World Health Organization holding its first global air pollution conference in Geneva this week

Air Pollution, China
A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China. VOA

The recommendations also included post-combustion controls to cut emissions from power stations, higher standards for shipping fuels, ending routine flaring of gas from oil wells, and energy efficiency standards for industry and households.

The biggest gains would come from clean cooking, reducing emissions from industry, using renewable fuels for power generation and more efficient use of fertilizers.

Huge improvements in post-combustion controls and emission standards for road vehicles were already anticipated because of recent legislation, although both could be improved further.

Indeed, India may halt the use of private vehicles in the capital New Delhi if air pollution, which has reached severe levels in recent days, gets worse, a senior environmental official said Tuesday.

global warming, air pollution, Asia
The sun is seen through evening air pollution in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

Authorities in the capital have already advised residents to keep outdoor activity to a minimum from the beginning of next month until at least the end of the Hindu festival of Diwali on Nov. 7, when firecrackers typically further taint air choked by the burning of crop stubble in neighboring states.

Helena Molin Valdes, head of Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat at U.N. Environment, said there was increasing political openness to taking action on air pollution and the report reflected three years of discussions with governments.

“What the governments were saying in the region was: ‘Don’t tell us we have a problem, we know there is a problem, how can we deal with it and what will it take to do it?'” she said.

The report estimates its recommendations would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent compared to a baseline scenario, potentially decreasing global warming by one-third of a degree Celsius by 2050, which would also be a contribution in the fight against climate change.

Air pollution, asia
Air pollution shortens life by more than one year in India. Wikimedia Commons

One billion people would enjoy high air quality, while the number exposed to the worst pollution would be cut by 80 percent to 430 million. Premature deaths would fall by a third.

Also Read: Air Pollution A Major Risk For Children: WHO

Crop yields would benefit because of a reduction in ozone, which is estimated to have cut 2015 harvests by 10 percent for maize, 4 percent for rice, 22 percent for soy and 9 percent across Asia, a total of 51 million tons. (VOA)

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Starfish, Jellyfish To Benefit From Climate Change, Says Study

"These pioneer species are likely to benefit from the opening of new habitats through loss of sea ice and the food it provides."

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Jellyfishes are virtually immortal.
Jellyfishes are virtually immortal.

Seafloor predators and open water feeding animals like the starfish and the jellyfish will benefit from climate change, while those associated with sea ice for food or breeding are most at risk, a study said on Thursday.

Marine Antarctic animals closely associated with sea ice for food or breeding, such as the humpback whale and emperor penguin, are most at risk from the predicted effects of climate change, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

Using risk assessments like those used for setting occupational safety limits in the workplace, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) determined the winners and losers of Antarctic climate change impact, which includes temperature rise, sea ice reduction and changes in food availability.

They show that seafloor predators and open water feeding animals, like starfish and jellyfish, will benefit from the opening up of new habitats.

“One of the strongest signals of climate change in the Western Antarctic is the loss of sea ice, receding glaciers and the break up of ice shelves,” said lead author Simon Morley from the BAS.

“Climate change will affect shallow water first, challenging the animals who live in this habitat in the very near future. While we show that many Antarctic marine species will benefit from the opening up of new areas of sea floor as habitat, those associated with sea ice are very much at risk.”

A growing body of research on how climate change will impact Antarctic marine animals prompted the researchers to review this information in a way that revealed which species were most at risk.

Starfish, jellyfish to benefit from climate change: Study. VOA

“We took a similar approach to risk assessments used in the workplace, but rather than using occupational safety limits, we used information on the expected impact of climate change on each animal,” said seabird ecologist Mike Dunn, co-author of the study, which forms part of a special article collection on aquatic habitat ecology and conservation.

“We assessed many different animal types to give an objective view of how biodiversity might fare under unprecedented change.”

They found that krill — crustaceans whose young feed on the algae growing under sea ice — were scored as vulnerable, in turn impacting the animals that feed on them, such as the adelie and chinstrap penguins and the humpback whale.

The emperor penguin scored as high risk because sea ice and ice shelves are its breeding habitat.

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Dunn added: “The southern right whale feeds on a different plankton group, the copepods, which are associated with open water, so it is likely to benefit. Salps and jellyfish, which are other open water feeding animals are likely to benefit too.”

The risk assessment also revealed that bottom-feeders, scavengers and predators, such as starfish, sea urchins and worms, may gain from the effects of climate change.

“Many of these species are the more robust pioneers that have returned to the shallows after the end of the last glacial maximum, 20,000 years ago, when the ice-covered shelf started to melt and retreat,” said co-author David Barnes.

“These pioneer species are likely to benefit from the opening of new habitats through loss of sea ice and the food it provides.” (IANS)