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November 7th, 2011:

Australia Senate backs carbon tax

8 November 2011 Last updated at 02:54 GMT

Vapour rise from a steel mill chimney in the industrial town of Port Kembla, about 80 km (50 miles) south of Sydney, in this file photo taken July 7

Australia is the developed world’s worst polluter per head of population

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Australia’s Senate has approved a controversial law on pollution, after years of bitter political wrangling.

The Clean Energy Act will force the country’s 500 worst-polluting companies to pay a tax on their carbon emissions from 1 July next year.

The Senate vote is a victory for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who had given strong backing to the plan.

Environmentalists have broadly backed the scheme, but there have been large public protests against it.

Opposition parties have argued that the tax would cause job losses and raise the cost of living, and they have promised to repeal the legislation if they win the next election.

The government made the scheme the main plank in its climate-change policies.

The bill passed a vote in the lower house last month by just 74 votes for and 72.

The Senate vote was also tight – 36 votes in favour, 32 against – with the government relying on the support of the Greens to get the bill passed.

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan said it was a “victory for the optimists”.

The government has set the initial price per tonne of carbon at A$23 ($23.80; £14.80), much higher than other similar schemes such as in the EU where the price is between $8.70 and $12.60 a tonne.

Australia has been debating pollution-limiting legislation for years.

Former Prime Minster Kevin Rudd swept to power in 2007 after making the carbon tax central to his election campaign.

But his plans were bogged down in political infighting, and analysts have blamed his inability to get the law passed for his eventual ousting by Ms Gillard

No Action Talk Only meanwhile roadside polution levels in December will be high to very high at CWB,, Mongkok and Central roadside stations without the need of monitoring equipment to report this

Well, the United States already has strict emissions controls and PM2.5 LAWS !

EPD collaborates with United States EPA to expand opportunities in environmental protection

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) today (October 26) signed a Statement of Intent with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) that outlines a joint commitment for closer cooperation.

The joint statement was signed by Director of Environmental Protection, Ms Anissa Wong, on behalf of the department in the presence of Assistant Administrator of the US EPA, Mr Malcolm Jackson, at the Eco Expo Asia being held in Hong Kong. Under the agreement the EPD and the US EPA agree to leverage on their existing relationship to expand regional cooperation to promote “low carbon, high technology and low pollution” communities and expand capacity in environmental protection.

“Over the years, United States and Hong Kong environmental professionals have collaborated in capacity building and technical exchanges in many areas. The signing of thisStatement of Intent signifies the furtherance of our cooperation in environmental and sustainable development.We look forward to the exciting opportunities and fruitful exchanges under the strengthened partnership, which will help us move along the pathway of low pollution, low carbon development,” said Ms Wong.

By deepening collaboration between Hong Kong and the United States, the two agencies will seek to jointly address environmental challenges of mutual concern and drive further collaboration efforts in the region.

“Interdependent economies require sustainable development to continue to thrive. The US EPA and HK EPD recognise that pollution and environmental challenges are not confined by geographic or economic boundaries.

Through our collaboration we intend to promote and strengthen regional partnerships to advance shared environmental and health priorities,” said a spokesperson for the US EPA.

Collaboration between the two sides will focus on fundamental challenges, including air and water quality protection and waste management. Both sides believe that these efforts will protect the shared environment as well as support the development of practical and cost-effective environmental solutions that drive innovation and technology, environmental jobs, and economic opportunities.

Source: HKSAR Government

SE Asian brown cloud haze causes cyclones in the Arabian Gulf (and therefore possibly in SE Asia also ! ) The author informs us he is extending the study to this region

“Over much of south Asia, anthropogenic air pollution has led to the formation of thick layers of haze known as atmospheric brown clouds5. The main sources of the pollution are fossil-fuel consumption and biomass burning, which deposit black carbon in the atmosphere, with serious negative con­sequences for human health6. This pollu­tion produces brownish clouds of aerosol particles that can be several kilometres thick. The hazy conditions spread out over the Arabian Sea, blocking some of the Sun’s energy and preventing it from reaching the sea surface, and thus causing cooling in the upper ocean.

Evan et al.3 propose that these brown clouds have an interesting effect on tropi­cal cyclone environments. They argue that, by inhibiting the amount of incom­ing solar energy at the sea surface, brown clouds can effectively reduce the warmest Arabian Sea temperatures relative to the equatorial Indian Ocean.”

Download PDF : 47950NV

Air pollution fuels killer cyclones

Arabian Sea tropical cyclones intensified by emissions of black carbon and other aerosols

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Throughout the year, average sea surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea are warm enough to support the development of tropical cyclones1, but the atmospheric monsoon circulation and associated strong vertical wind shear limits cyclone development and intensification, only permitting a pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period for cyclogenesis1234. Thus a recent increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones over the northern Indian Ocean5 is thought to be related to the weakening of the climatological vertical wind shear34. At the same time, anthropogenic emissions of aerosols have increased sixfold since the 1930s, leading to a weakening of the southwesterly lower-level and easterly upper-level winds that define the monsoonal circulation over the Arabian Sea6789. In principle, this aerosol-driven circulation modification could affect tropical cyclone intensity over the Arabian Sea, but so far no such linkage has been shown. Here we report an increase in the intensity of pre-monsoon Arabian Sea tropical cyclones during the period 1979–2010, and show that this change in storm strength is a consequence of a simultaneous upward trend in anthropogenic black carbon and sulphate emissions. We use a combination of observational, reanalysis and model data to demonstrate that the anomalous circulation, which is radiatively forced by these anthropogenic aerosols, reduces the basin-wide vertical wind shear, creating an environment more favourable for tropical cyclone intensification. Because most Arabian Sea tropical cyclones make landfall1, our results suggest an additional impact on human health from regional air pollution.

Figure 1:Tropical cyclone tracks, aerosol optical depth and meridional SST trends in the Arabian

a, Genesis points (circles) and tracks (solid lines) of pre-monsoon tropical cyclones during the period 1979–2010. Storms with an lifetime maximum intensity (LMI) of more than 50 m s−1 are indicated with a filled circle at the genesis point and thick track lines. Shaded contours represent annual long-term mean fine-mode aerosol optical depth (AOD) from the MODIS Terra and Aqua instruments averaged over 2003–2009.b, The 50-year change in observed SST, averaged over 55°–75° E. The SST change is defined as the average of the monthly linear trend from 1955–2004, multiplied by 50.

  1. Figure 2: Distributions of pre-monsoon and post-monsoon LMI and storm-ambient vertical wind shear.

Box plots of LMI (a) and storm-ambient vertical wind shear (b) showing the medians (central lines), inner quartile ranges (boxes), and the 25th and 75th centiles minus and plus 1.5 times the inner quartile range, respectively (whiskers). Shear is calculated from the National Center for Environmental Prediction-Department of Energy Reanalysis20. The significance of the separation of the median and mean values is given in Supplementary Table 1.

  1. Figure 3: Thirty-year trends in pre-monsoon SST and vertical wind shear.

The 30-year trends in vertical wind shear (contours) based on reanalysis data from 1979–2010 (a) and numerical experiments designed to isolate the effect of the ABC on the regional circulation7 (b). Dashed contours indicate negative trends, and solid contours indicate positive trends; the zero contour is not shown. Positive and negative shear contours are in units of 0.5 m s−1. Shading shows the 30-year SST trends over the same period from observations (a), which is relative to the equatorial SST trend, and the aerosol-forced SST change prescribed in the model experiments (b).

SCMP  Scientists blame pollutants from South Asia spewed by factories, diesel exhaust and cooking fires

Agence France-Presse 
Nov 04, 2011 in SCMP
Airborne pollution from South Asia is helping to brew monster storms in the Arabian Sea that have claimed thousands of lives and cost billions of US dollars, scientists said.

In a paper published on Wednesday in the British journal Nature, researchers pointed the finger at a haze known as the Asian brown cloud, which hangs over parts of the northern Indian Ocean, India and Pakistan. Several kilometres thick, the cloud comprises brownish particles of carbon soot and sulphates spewed by factories, diesel exhaust and cooking fires.

Previous research has implicated it in disrupting monsoon patterns and in glacier loss in the Himalayas.

Environmental scientists led by Amato Evan of the University of Virginia looked at patterns in cyclones in the Arabian Sea from 1979 to 2010.

They found the region historically only averaged two or three cyclones a year and these typically were weak — even though the sea was clearly hot enough to fuel very powerful storms.

The reason for the weakness and infrequency, they discovered, lies in a phenomenon called vertical wind shear which occurs in July and August during the hot months of the monsoon season.

Vertical wind shear occurs when strong winds flow in the upper and lower atmosphere in opposite directions. In the lower levels, it blows from the southwest, and in the upper atmosphere, from the east.

The shear rips the top off a would-be cyclone, preventing it from developing the circular winds that are its muscular hallmark.

As a result, the few cyclones that occurred in the Arabian Sea typically happened before or after the monsoon season — usually one in May or June and a couple more in August to December — when the wind shear was far less.

But in the past dozen or so years, the pattern has changed, with the emergence of storms in the weeks immediately before the monsoon season.

They include a cyclone that killed nearly 3,000 people in Gujarat, India, in June 1998. In June 2007, cyclone Gonu, a category-five storm, killed 49 people in Oman and Iran, causing more than US$4 billion in damage. It was the first documented storm ever to enter the Gulf of Oman.

And in June 2010, 26 people were killed in Pakistan and Oman by a category-four cyclone, Phet, inflicting losses of nearly US$2 billion.

The team says “brown cloud” particulates have grown sixfold in volume since the 1930s and the pollution is now a disruptive climatic phenomenon in its own right.

“This study is a striking example of how human reactions, on a large enough scale — in this case, massive regional air pollution caused by inefficient fuel combustion — can result in unintended consequences,” said Anjuli Bamzai of the US National Science Foundation.

“These consequences include highly destructive summer cyclones that were rare or non-existent in this monsoon region 30 or so years ago.”

Download full report : nature10552 (1)

Pro-Beijing camp achieves landslide in district polls

South China Morning Post – Nov. 7, 2011

The pro-Beijing camp scored a landslide victory in Monday’s district council elections – with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) and Federation of Trade Unions winning 146 of the 412 seats.

In contrast, the pan-democratic camp suffered an even worse defeat than it had experienced in 2007. On Monday, the Democratic Party won only 47 seats, while the Civic Party won seven.

A record turnout of 1.2 million people voted on Sunday in the most hotly contested district council elections in Hong Kong history – which saw 839 candidates contest 336 constituencies. Some 76 councillors were returned.

Of the 2.9 million eligible voters, 41.4 per cent cast their ballots – compared with a turnout of 38.8 per cent in the 2007 district council polls and 44.06 per cent in 2003 – when there were nearly 500,000 fewer registered voters.

DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung said he was satisfied his party had secured more seats.

DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him defeated Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrat (LSD). Ip received 2,723 votes, while Leung, also known as “Long Hair”, only got 973 votes. Ip said this showed voters were unwilling to back radical politicians.

All the results were released by 4am, and it was soon obvious the pan-democrats were in for a long, painful night.

Civic Party legislators Tanya Chan and Ronny Tong Ka-wah both lost their seats. Chan was beaten by Liberal Party first-time candidate Joseph Chan Ho-lim in the Peak constituency of Central and Western. Tong lost to incumbent independent Wong Ka-wing in City One, Sha Tin.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Ka-kit said the goal of achieving full universal suffrage would be more difficult after the landslide defeat. The party only won seven seats, despite fielding 41 candidates.

The Democratic Party also suffered, as its lawmakers Lee Wing-tat and Wong Sing-chi were defeated in Kwai Tsing and North District, respectively. The party’s vice-chairman and former lawmaker Sin Chung-kai lost to incumbent councillor David Wong Chor-fung, of the New People’s Party, in Wan Chai’s Tai Hang constituency.

However, party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan fended off a challenge from People Power candidate Albert Chan Wai-yip and independent Shum Kam-tim in Lok Tsui, the Tuen Mun District.

Ho said the party had “passed a test” because it did not lose too many seats. However, the party now has three fewer seats. He said the pan-democrats would need to review their strategy.

Democrat lawmakers Kam Nai-wai and James To Kun-sun held on to their seats in Central, Western and the Yau Tsim Mong District.

Radical pan-democratic group People Power – whose goal was to punish the Democratic Party and Association of Democratic and People’s Livelihood for backing the government’s reform package for the 2012 elections – was the biggest loser. Of its 62 candidates, only one achieved a victory. Its campaign mostly received lukewarm support from voters.

The radical LSD which fielded 28 candidates failed to win any seats. Party chairman Andrew To Kwan-hang lost his seat in Chuk Yuen North, the Wong Tai Sin district.

The New People’s Party – which contested the elections for the first time – secured four seats. The party fielded 12 candidates this year.

The Electoral Affairs Commission said it had received about 2,200 complaints from voters.

Full list of elected district councillors.