Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 100 Cities in the USA

An integrated approach for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from 100 U.S. metropolitan areas (12 page pdf, Samuel A Markolf, H Scott Matthews, Inês L Azevedo and Chris Hendrickson, Environmental Research Letters, Jan. 25, 2017)

Today we review an approach to estimate the emissions for a large number of cities in the USA which has advantages over the traditional bottom-up approach as well as likely being more accurate because it includes production as well as consumption of carbon emissions and fuels. Emissions from individual cities ranged from 5 metric tons per person in Tucson to 65 meteric tons per person in New Orleans. In gross terms, the average emission for the 100 cities examined was 27 million metric tons per year.

Per capita responsibility for current atmosphe...

Per capita responsibility for current atmospheric CO 2 level, including land-use change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Air Pollution from Cruise Ships in Port and at Sea

Hoping for a fresh sea breeze aboard a cruise ship? Better hold your nose! (Karin Jäger, DW Environment, Jan. 26, 2017)

Also discussed here: NABU Cruise Rankings 2016 : Cruise ships fall short in environmental protection (MARES, Sep. 1, 2016)

And here: This stinks! – Clean up cruise ships! NABU’s campaign for a cleaner cruise industry (10 page pdf, NABU Background Cruise Ships, 2015))

And here: NABU measures air pollution in ports (NABU)

And here: Scrubbers – An economic and ecological assessment (45 page pdf, Eelco den Boer, Maarten ‘t Hoen, DELFT for Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), Mar. 13,  2015)

And here: The 0.1% sulphur in fuel requirement as from 1 January 2015 in SECAs (30 page pdf, European Maritime Safety Agency, Dec. 13, 2010)

Today we review examples of pollution from cruise ships both in port and now with previously never measured pollution, at sea. One ship emits as much air pollution over the same distance travelled as 5 million cars. 38% of the NO2 and 19% of particulates in the major German cruise ship port, Hamburg, comes from maritime traffic. Only 80 ships out of 55,000 worldwide have scrubbers installed to reduce the back soot emitted. Most of the 14,000 ships sailing in European SECAs < Sulphur Emission Control Areas>  every year switched to low sulphur fuels instead of installing scrubbers. The UN, through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), has the mandate to regulate the maritime environment internationally through its International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (so-called MARPOL protocol).

cuise-ship-pollution

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How Would Vancouver Transition to a Driverless City?

Turning Transportation Challenges and Opportunities Presented to the City of Vancouver by Autonomous Vehicles (93 page pdf, Cail Smith, Greenest City Scholars Report, Aug. 31, 2016)

Also discussed here: Vancouver Prepares For a Driverless Future That Includes Extra Space for Walking, Cycling, and Transit (Mobility, Jan. 17, 2017)

And here: Transportation 2040 Plan: A transportation vision for the City of Vancouver (City of Vancouver)

And here: Transportation 2040 (99 page pdf, Plan as adopted by Vancouver City Council, Oct.31, 2012)

Today we review plans and reports aimed at the future of Vancouver in 2040 which may include a transition to driverless or autonomous vehicles (AV) as well as meeting the target of having 2/3 of all trips made on foot, by bike or transit. With a 90% AV share, freeway congestion would be reduced by 60% from present levels and 30% of city traffic would be reduced by no need to search for parking. Garages could be converted to guest houses and garage lanes to useful parks or gardens. Shifting to AVs would save the average Canadian household $2,700 per year (4% of income) by decreasing insurance, fuel and parking costs, as well as saving the City of Vancouver $15 M/yr on maintaining and monitoring parking spots, while also reducing revenue from parking tickets by $53M/yr (also 4% of net revenue).

driverless-vancouver

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How Does the Environment Affect Perceived Wait Times at Transit Stops?

Transit Stop Environments and Waiting Time Perception Impacts of Trees, Traffic Exposure, and Polluted Air (Abstract, Marina Lagune-ReutlerRelated information, Andrew GuthrieRelated information, Yingling FanRelated information, and David Levinson, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Jan. 9, 2017)

Also discussed here: Transit Riders’ Perception of Waiting Time and Stops, Surrounding Environments (17 page MS Word, Marina Lagune-Reutler, Andrew Guthrie, Yingling Fan, David Levinson, Draft submitted to Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, July 2015)

Today we review research based on over 800 responses from users of public transit in  Minneapolis, MN. The key factor studied was the wait times –both real and perceived- and how this varied with the type of environment found at bus and transit stops. Results indicate that  polluted air and the presence of heavy traffic near the stops tended to increase the length of perceived wait time when this was over 5 minutes while the presence of trees and light traffic shortened the perceived wait time. Conclusions and recommendations to encourage more transit use include locating transit lines away from traffic and heavily polluted areas and planting trees and foliage near the stops. Canadians and those in cold climates would be heartened by the finding that more or less snow has little effect on transit users who, if anything were more likely to happy they were not driving a private car.

transit-and-aq

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Do Trees in Cities Help or Harm Our Health?

Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Dec.1, 2016)

Also discussed here: Trees could make urban pollution even worse (quartz, Dec.6, 2016)

And here: Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center (Nature, Scientific Reports, Jul. 9, 2015)

Today we review a guide about urban air pollution that looks into the role that street trees play with respect to reducing air pollution. The overall conclusion was that trees are unlikely to reduce air pollution and could add to it, especially if the trees reduce ventilation of air currents. This is true also of the more recent use of green walls. It is also acknowledged [in a Toronto study]that urban trees can improve health – as much as a $10,000 raise or feeling 7 years younger. Pine trees are singled out as a particular contributer to urban pollution through their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which combine with the NO2 in car emissions to produce low level ozone, one of a handful of pollutants harmful to health.

tree-area-toronto

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How Do Air Pollution Alerts Affect Public Health Use?

Effects of an air pollution personal alert system on health service usage in a high-risk general population: a quasi-experimental study using linked data (7 page pdf, R A Lyons, S E Rodgers, S Thomas, R Bailey, H Brunt, D Thayer, J Bidmead, B A Evans, P Harold, M Hooper, H Snooks, J Epidemiol Community Health,  May 23, 2016)

Today we review an analysis of the reaction of an “intervention”  group of patients with air pollution- related illnesses (cardio-respiratory and COPD) to alerts produced by the UK’s airAware alert system over a two year period, as measured by visits to hospital emergency departments, compared to a control group which were not similarly afflicted. Results indicate a doubling of emergency admissions and four times the number of respiratory conditions for the intervention group compared to the control group. The authors conclude that some health interventions or alerts beyond a certain distribution level are harmful in terms of health service utilisation.

air-alerts

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How Can Cities Reduce Methane Emissions?

Mitigation of methane emissions in cities: how new measurements and partnerships can contribute to emissions reduction strategies (39 page pdf, Francesca M. Hopkins, James R. Ehleringer, Susan E. Bush, Riley M. Duren, Charles E.Miller, Chun-Ta Lai, Ying-Kuang Hsu, Valerie Carranza, James T. Randerson, Earth’s Future, Sep. 10, 2016)

Today we review research into methane emissions from cities which along with other greenhouse gases contributes to climate warming. Cities themselves account for 70% of GHG emissions globally.  Unlike CO2 however, methane emissions are more easily managed at the city level whether they come from transportation and the increased shift to natural gas as a fuel for city vehicles or, secondarily, from landfills where methane is emitted from decomposing organic materials or, thirdly, from leaks in the systems delivering natural gas to users. One of the major problems is the lack of accurate inventories of methane emissions which in some cities results in an underestimate of 50%. Some efforts being made in the transportation sector to reduce CO2 emissions include shifts to the use of propane or natural gas but these may have unintended consequences in terms of their contribution as a radiatively active gas to the greenhouse effect. Landfill emissions may be reduced by simply reducing the amount of waste generated though pricing of garbage or encouraging home composting.

methane-emissions

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