Economics of Pollution

Greenpeace is one of the few organisations able to lift the lid on the economics of pollution.

300 of the largest coal-powered power stations in Europe kill 22,300 people prematurely every year and cost billions in health care, lost working days and insurance claims. This very significant Greenpeace Report is named, “Silent Killers.”

Stuttgart University were commissioned to carry it the work on health impacts from the coal industry. Road traffic accidents are now less dangerous than coal plant pollution in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, with the UK and then Germany only just behind these champions of bad health.

Only 5th in the table, the UK loses 22,600 years of life and 480,000 working days are lost every year.

Publishing those figures over the whole of Europe, the incredible total is 240,000 years lost from people’s lives.

In the UK, the 2 largest power stations are each responsible for 4450 and 4210 lives lost prematurely.

As the leading polluter, Polish government and utility plans to build 12 new plants are reprehensible. Alongside the Polish PGE, RWE, PPC, Vattenfall and ?EZ prove to be creating the worst impacts on health. Microscopic particle pollution has always been the main killer of coal miners through pneumoconiosis. Now research indicates acid gases, soot, dust from coal and diesel engines are all penetrating the human lung and bloodstream.

The increasingly prevalent British asthma attack and other respiratory problems, particularly of children, could well be laid directly at the door of these pollutants. As well as this terrible news, the Greenpeace report states clearly that, “tens of thousands of kilogrammes of toxic metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium are spewed out of the stacks, contributing to cancer risk and harming children’s development.” Sulphur dioxide production is an aspect of coal burning that has always been a recognised problem. 70% of Europe’s sulphur emissions and 40% of the nitrogen oxide come from these 300 huge power station.

As earth Times quoted the other day, with American coal being sold cheaply now, the use of coal within the EU has increased every year from 2009 to 2012! Clean renewable energy is increasing in popularity in places like Scotland and Norway with the renewable energy targets of the EU likely to encourage further steps. Lauri Myllyvirta is a Greenpeace International energy campaigner. Her quote is related to the “staggering” nature of the results. “Europe must continue down the path of clean renewable energy by setting an ambitious, binding 2030 renewable energy target,” she states.

Greenpeace is asking the European Commission to propose a binding renewable energy target of 45% with greenhouse gas reduction target of 55% by 2030. This is despite open defiance by people such as the UK Energy Minister, Edward Davey, and several other polluters in the EU. Mr Davey is struggling to recover his green credentials after being forced into financial cuts. This has delayed a proposed carbon-free UK production of electricity by the year 2030.

Read more at – See more at:

Pollution from Silesia to Scunthorpe By Dave Armstrong – 13 Jun 2013 8:44:0 GMT

The 300 power plants mentioned in the report range throughout the EU, from Silesia to Scunthorpe; Pollution image; Credit: © Shutterstock




Economics of Pollution

Global Cities Need Natural Defenses

As Superstorm Sandy reminded us, cities face the dual pressures of increased urbanization in climate change, putting them at risk for storms, droughts, heat waves, and more.

These risks are real and significant.

Over 90 percent of cities are on the coast, putting people at risk from sea level rise and coastal storms. Over 300 million urban dwellers live at or close to sea levels. And while only 15 percent of global water basins are water-stressed, almost half of all cities over 100,000 people are in these basins.

Globally, cities are projected to grow by over 2 billion people by 2050. The choices we make today about where and how that growth occurs could reduce or exacerbate risks for cities.

Cities rely on natural infrastructure for vital services, including water supplies, storm water management, coastal protection, air quality and cooling. However, many of these functions are not well understood or valued and therefore are not invested in or included in planning decisions. As a result, cities typically turn to traditional civil engineering or “grey” infrastructure solutions, such as sea walls and large water treatment systems, to address environmental risks, despite the fact that natural infrastructure — a wetland, forest or floodplain — might perform the same function at a lower cost, or be integrated into a “grey strategy” for optimal performance and cost savings.

We cannot sustainably support the current pace of human and economic growth without changing the way cities are planned, built, operated and financed. We must take steps to protect critical ecosystems and incorporate “natural defenses” into urban areas to reduce risk and vulnerability.

New York City is a prime example of how the natural and urban environments can blend together to enable sustainable growth. Through PlaNYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sustainability plan, New York is investing $1.5 billion over 10 years to protect the city’s water at its source, enabling the City to avoid constructing an $8 billion to $10 billion water treatment plant. The City is also investing over $1.5 billion as part of its Green Infrastructure Plan to utilize a mix of natural and hard infrastructure to capture rain water and prevent flooding and sewer overflows — investments that have an equivalent value of $2.2 billion in grey infrastructure. And over $100 million has been committed to preserve and restore the city’s 6,000 acres of wetlands, which help improve water quality and mitigate storm damage.

Another good example of an integrated approach is South Cape May, N.J., where The Nature Conservancy worked with three communities to restore coastal dunes and wetlands to reduce flooding. While at the center of Sandy, the restored dunes and wetland system appears to have spared the nearby communities from the kind of flooding they experienced before the restoration was completed.

Other cities are taking similar steps: San Antonio has established a water protection fund and is working with landowners to protect the nearby Edwards Aquifer. Philadelphia is implementing a green infrastructure program that rewards taxpayers for reducing storm water runoff, saving an estimated $8 billion over traditional grey infrastructure. In response to Hurricane Ike, Houston conducted a full review of ecosystem services and developed initiatives to protect coastal areas and increase storm barriers using both grey and natural infrastructure. And The Nature Conservancy is working with more than a dozen cities — including Nairobi, Kenya; Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Bogota, Columbia; and Santa Fe, New Mexico — to connect funding from downstream water users (such as cities) to conservation activities in the upstream communities that affect water quality at its source (a mechanism called Water Funds).

Nature can and should play an important role alongside engineered solutions in building (and rebuilding) the cities of tomorrow. To increase our resilience, cities need to use all of the tools and options available to them — including, but not limited to, natural infrastructure. While there are signs that some cities have recognized this, the pace of growth and climate change are too fast to limit ourselves — and the cost of failing to make sound investments today is just too high.

Adam Freed is the Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Securing Water Program and a Lecturer at Columbia University. He previously served as the Deputy Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability.

[Image: New York City skyline. Image source:  Anthony Quintano/Flickr via a Creative Commons license]

Written by Adam Freed
Published on May 30th, 2013

The following post originally appeared on UMB’s Future Cities.

cities defense

Global Cities Need Natural Defenses



How Awe Can Help Students Develop Purpose

Echoing Green is a global social venture fund. Since 1987, Echoing Green has identified extraordinary emerging social entrepreneurs with bold ideas for social change and provided them with seed money and technical assistance to launch innovative organizations around the world.                        

By Vicki Zakrzewski | June 11, 2013 |

Imagine being Ryan Hreljac’s first grade teacher. After telling your class of six and seven year olds that children in Africa are dying because of lack of clean water, Ryan, one of your students, is so moved he has to do something. What starts as extra vacuuming at home to earn money for wells eventually turns into Ryan’s Well Foundation that, to-date, has brought safe water and sanitation services to over 789,900 people.

As his teacher, you helped Ryan start on the path to a life purpose, which, according to research, may be one of the greatest services you ever render to your students.

William Damon, leading expert in human development and author of The Path to Purpose, states that students today may be high achievers but they have no idea what for. He believes that this sense of meaninglessness is one of the main contributors to the skyrocketing suicide and depression rates amongst our youth. One sample statistic: the American College Health Association reported in 2011 that 30 percent of undergraduates were so depressed they could hardly function.

To combat this meaninglessness, Damon argues that students need to find a purpose in life—something that is meaningful to themselves and that also serves the greater good. In a series of studies of over 1,200 youth ages 12 to 26, Damon found that those who were actively pursuing a clear purpose reaped tremendous benefits that were both immediate and that could also last a lifetime.

More immediate benefits included extra positive energy that not only kept students motivated, but also helped them acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue their purpose, making them very strong learners. Youth with a strong sense of purpose also benefited from positive emotions such as gratitude, self-confidence, optimism, and a deep sense of fulfillment—all of which scientists have found help prevent depression and anxiety.

Students who carry this sense of purpose into adulthood may also benefit in the long run. Research shows that adults who feel their lives have meaning and purpose are happier, more successful at work, and have stronger relationships.


How Awe Can Help Students Develop Purpose

New York: Water for Tomorrow

Each day, more than 15 billion gallons of water are withdrawn from New York’s lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. This water is a fundamental resource for life—both human and wild. That is why The Nature Conservancy has launched Water for Tomorrow, a program to reform the way fresh water is managed in New York State and help protect our water for New Yorkers in the future.

How is fresh water managed right now?

Currently, New York State provides permits for businesses and people to withdraw water from our watershed. The state analyzes the future implications of each individual permit, but there is no model in place that accounts for the water use from X number of permits each year, 10 years from now, 100 years from now, and so on. We need to know what the impacts of giving out all of these permits are.

What is The Nature Conservancy doing to help?

  • We worked to develop and help pass new water resource legislation in New York State that ensures a framework for making decisions about water withdrawal and its impact on nature. The Water Resource Management Act, passed by Governor Cuomo in August 2011, will protect water bodies and wildlife habitats through the creation of science-based standards for water management and a new permitting system for withdrawals from streams, lakes and ponds. Under this legislation, key bodies of water in New York will be protected, including the Delaware River and Catskills that supply water to 9 million people and the Great Lakes, which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.
  • We are working to develop and have adopted environmental flow standards for important regions and river basins, which will provide science-based limits for determining how much water is left for nature.
  • We are building a tool, based on science and research, to evaluate the impacts of water use in New York State. The Water for Tomorrow tool will provide scientifically based, spatially explicit information to evaluate ecological impacts and human tradeoffs of new water withdrawals for the 21,000 miles of streams and lakes in the state. For example, we can answer: “If we had 1,000 wells withdrawing X gallons per day then cumulatively what are the impacts to both nature’s benefits as well as other human uses?” Having these answers will allow for more informed decision making about the future of water resources—which will be critical when looking at new uses like hydrofracking and the impacts of climate change.

What does all this mean for New Yorkers?

State regulators need these tools, but we also want to make this an open-source tool for New York community members so they can be knowledgeable about our water. Water for Tomorrow will arm communities to play an active role in the conservation of their local resources.

“With threats like natural gas development and climate change, the pressure on New York’s water resources will continue to grow,” says Conservancy freshwater scientist George Schuler. “With your help, we can re-imagine the way New York manages its water resources.

Water for Tomorrow represents the first time that modern freshwater science, statistical and modeling tools and innovative freshwater policy and regulation are being brought together in a collaborative manner.

May 31, 2013

ny water


New York: Water for Tomorrow


Groups Oppose New EPA Beach Water Quality Standards

Two New York-based environmental groups are challenging federal Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards that determine whether a beach is safe for public use, saying the new regulations are too lax.

Manhattan-based Waterkeeper Alliance and Riverkeeper in upstate Ossining joined five other groups from across the country in filing an “intent to sue” notice on June 20.

“The EPA is not relying on the best science and not setting strict enough regulations,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River program director for Riverkeeper. “We want the EPA to make sure that when there are bacteria, that they are not allowing people to swim in it.”

The EPA declined to comment on the potential litigation.

The environmental groups oppose changes the agency made to its recreational water quality criteria in November.

Although state health departments can create their own beach sanitation rules, the EPA standard serves as a guide for determining if a swimming beach should be closed, said EPA spokesman Dale Kemery.

Musegaas said tough environmental standards for beaches are a must in New York because overflows from sewage treatment systems sometimes spill into harbors.

A Riverkeeper report found beach water samples taken in New York City from 2006 to 2011 failed EPA standards 24 percent of the time. Nationwide, 7 percent of beach water samples failed during the same period.

Under the revised standard — the first update since 1986 — 10 percent of water samples taken each month can exceed EPA’s bacteria contamination limit without triggering a beach closure. The previous criteria prohibited beach use after a single water sample exceeded the contamination limit, said Mary Ellen Laurain, spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health.

epa beach

Two New York Environmental Groups Challenge EPA Water Quality Standards

What’s New: Sampling for Volatile Organic Compounds in Soil by EPA Method 5035A

American Analytical Laboratories, LLC.

Method 5035A Sampling and Field Kit Guidelines

SW-846 Method 5035A Closed System Purge & Trap and Extraction

For Volatile Organics in Soil and Waste Samples


The EPA has released and subsequently NYSDOH ELAP has approved guidance on the sample collection of volatile organics by SW-846 Method 5035A. Appendix A of this method provides details regarding the many options available for sample collection. The collection and preservation procedures are intended to prevent loss of Volatile Organics during sample transport, handling and analysis.


If samples are not collected according to one of these options, American Analytical is required to qualify any reported sample concentrations as biased low in our final lab report by documenting the potential bias in the narrative section of the data package.


Method 5035A Sampling Options:


American Analytical encourages the use of one of the following four options for meeting Method 5035A sampling and preservation requirements. Sampling kits must be pre-ordered by calling the laboratory at (631) 454-6100.


Option 1:      (allows for both low and high level analysis if warranted)

Sample collection will require the following:

  • 2 pre-weighed 40ml vials containing a small magnetic stir bar and preserved with sodium bisulfate for low level analysis (expected concentrations < 200 ppb)
  • 1 pre-weighed 40ml vial with methanol for high level analysis

(expected concentrations >200 ppb)

  • 1 – 1oz jar for percent moisture determination


Note: Option 1 will require 5 grams of soil pre-weighed in the field to be placed into each of the 40ml vials by sampling personnel. Use special care when handling methanol. Methanol is a flammable substance.


Option 2:    (allows for both low and high level analysis if warranted)

Sample collection will require the following:

  • 2 Encore 5g sampler for low level analysis
  • 1 – 1oz jar for percent moisture determination
  • 1 – 40ml vial pre-weighed and preserved with Methanol for high level analysis


Note: Option 2 will require 5 grams of soil pre-weighed in the field to be placed into the Methanol preserved vial using a Terra Core sampler (or equivalent) and a field balance to check the sample weight. Use special care when handling methanol. Methanol is a flammable substance.


Option 3: (allows for only low level analysis)

  • 2 pre-weighed 40ml vials containing a small magnetic stir bar and preserved with sodium bisulfate for low level analysis (expected concentrations < 200 ppb)
  • 1 – 1oz jar for percent moisture determination


Option 4: (allows for only low level analysis)

  • 2 Encore 5g sampler for low level analysis
  • 1 – 1oz jar for percent moisture determination


Return all encores to the laboratory ASAP. Samples must either be analyzed or be transferred from the encores and preserved by the lab within 48 hours of collection.


What’s New at American:

Method 5035A outlines the procedures for sample collection and analysis of soils and solid wastes for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).