Study Links ‘Smog’ To Arctic Warming

Study Links ‘Smog’ To Arctic Warming

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2006) — NASA scientists have found that a major form of global air pollution involved in summertime “smog” has also played a significant role in warming the Arctic.

In a global assessment of the impact of ozone on climate warming, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, evaluated how ozone in the lowest part of the atmosphere changed temperatures over the past 100 years. Using the best available estimates of global emissions of gases that produce ozone, the GISS computer model study reveals how much this single air pollutant, and greenhouse gas, has contributed to warming in specific regions of the world.

According to this new research, ozone was responsible for one-third to half of the observed warming trend in the Arctic during winter and spring. Ozone is transported from the industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere to the Arctic quite efficiently during these seasons. The findings have been accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

Ozone plays several different roles in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the high-altitude region of the stratosphere, ozone acts to shield the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the lower portion of the atmosphere (the troposphere), ozone can damage human health, crops and ecosystems. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.

Ozone is formed from several other chemicals found in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface that come from both natural sources and human activities such as fossil fuel burning, cement manufacturing, fertilizer application and biomass burning. Ozone is one of several air pollutants regulated in the United States by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The impact of ozone air pollution on climate warming is difficult to pinpoint because, unlike other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone does not last long enough in the lower atmosphere to spread uniformly around the globe. Its warming impact is much more closely tied to the region it originated from. To capture this complex picture, GISS scientists used a suite of three-dimensional computer models that starts with data on ozone sources and then tracks how ozone chemically evolved and moved around the world over the past century.

The warming impact of low-altitude ozone on the Arctic is very small in the summer months because ozone from other parts of the globe does not have time to reach the region before it is destroyed by chemical reactions fueled by ample sunshine. As a result, when it is summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, ozone-induced warming is largest near the sources of ozone emissions. The computer model showed large summer warming from ozone over western North America and eastern Europe/central Asia, areas with high levels of ozone pollution during that time of year.

The new results identify an unexpected benefit of air pollution control efforts worldwide, according to lead author Drew Shindell. “We now see that reducing ozone pollution can not only improve air quality but also have the added benefit of easing climate warming, especially in the Arctic.”

The research was supported by NASA’s Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program.

Drive-through ban eyed for city vehicles

Feb 15, 2008 04:30 AM


Staff Reporters


Going through the drive-through for that morning cup of coffee could become a banned ritual for City of Toronto employees.

“Idling a vehicle when you’re not driving wastes fuel. It wastes money. It’s unnecessary carbon emissions,” said Sarah Gingrich, a business analyst with fleet services. “We want to explore whether (a ban) is possible, is it beneficial, and how would we go about it.”

The idea is one of 38 recommendations in a “green fleet” plan endorsed by the city management committee yesterday that will go to city council next month.

Last June, the city enacted a policy requiring employees driving city vehicles to turn off the engine when stopped for more than 10 seconds.

The city estimates that if all the drivers of its 4,700 vehicles followed the no-drive-through rule, emissions would be reduced by 2,100 tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking 486 passenger vehicles off the road. (The fleet does not include police or other emergency vehicles.)

Gingrich said the city has no data on how much fuel has been saved by the no-idling rule so far, but it has received fewer complaints from the public about idling city vehicles.

Brian Cochrane, president of CUPE Local 416, called a ban on drive-through use “a little bizarre” aid said he wondered how efficient it would be to require staff to go into a restaurant to eat.

“It will take more time out of the work day. I don’t see it as a particularly productive situation,” Cochrane said, adding that many of the city’s trucks are too big to even go through a drive-through.

He said he would be prepared to consider the idea as long as management would not penalize staffers over lost time.

More skepticism might come from the drive-through industry. Tim Hortons commissioned a study last fall that found drive-through restaurants are better environmentally than those without them.

“It’s surprising,” admitted Tim’s spokesperson Nick Javor, of the study done by RWDI Consultants in Guelph. The findings have been presented to a city committee in London, Ont., which was considering a ban on new drive-throughs.

He said two major factors contribute to the results: People who plan to park first have to drive around looking for a spot. Then, restarting the engine minutes later produces a puff of emissions.

“That all contributes 20 per cent more smog pollutants and 60 per cent more greenhouse gases than a restaurant without a drive-through,” he contended.

The study, which is being peer-reviewed and will be published this spring, was based on a combination of computer modelling and actual traffic counts, Javor said. Customers were timed for how long they spent on the property, both looking for a spot or at the window.

At rush hour it can take four or five minutes of idling to get through the drive-through, but picking up a quick coffee at a suburban location can take as little as 20 or 30 seconds.

Nationally, about half of Tim Horton’s business is done at the drive-through. At McDonalds, it’s more than 60 per cent, according to spokesperson Ron Christianson, who added that drive-throughs “are pretty important to some customer segments”like parents of young children and people who want to stay in the car when it’s dark or stormy.

Katrina Miller, of Toronto Environmental Alliance, declined to comment on the specific recommendation in Toronto. But she said that generally, “Drive-throughs have no place in a city with 30 to 40 smog days a year.”

She noted that her group favours a city-wide policy banning new drive-through operations and restrictions on existing ones.

Study Links ‘Smog’ To Arctic Warming

Study Links ‘Smog’ To Arctic Warming

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2006) — NASA scientists have found that a major form of global air pollution involved in summertime “smog” has also played a significant role in warming the Arctic.

In a global assessment of the impact of ozone on climate warming, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, evaluated how ozone in the lowest part of the atmosphere changed temperatures over the past 100 years. Using the best available estimates of global emissions of gases that produce ozone, the GISS computer model study reveals how much this single air pollutant, and greenhouse gas, has contributed to warming in specific regions of the world.

According to this new research, ozone was responsible for one-third to half of the observed warming trend in the Arctic during winter and spring. Ozone is transported from the industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere to the Arctic quite efficiently during these seasons. The findings have been accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

Ozone plays several different roles in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the high-altitude region of the stratosphere, ozone acts to shield the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the lower portion of the atmosphere (the troposphere), ozone can damage human health, crops and ecosystems. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.

Ozone is formed from several other chemicals found in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface that come from both natural sources and human activities such as fossil fuel burning, cement manufacturing, fertilizer application and biomass burning. Ozone is one of several air pollutants regulated in the United States by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The impact of ozone air pollution on climate warming is difficult to pinpoint because, unlike other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone does not last long enough in the lower atmosphere to spread uniformly around the globe. Its warming impact is much more closely tied to the region it originated from. To capture this complex picture, GISS scientists used a suite of three-dimensional computer models that starts with data on ozone sources and then tracks how ozone chemically evolved and moved around the world over the past century.

The warming impact of low-altitude ozone on the Arctic is very small in the summer months because ozone from other parts of the globe does not have time to reach the region before it is destroyed by chemical reactions fueled by ample sunshine. As a result, when it is summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, ozone-induced warming is largest near the sources of ozone emissions. The computer model showed large summer warming from ozone over western North America and eastern Europe/central Asia, areas with high levels of ozone pollution during that time of year.

The new results identify an unexpected benefit of air pollution control efforts worldwide, according to lead author Drew Shindell. “We now see that reducing ozone pollution can not only improve air quality but also have the added benefit of easing climate warming, especially in the Arctic.”

The research was supported by NASA’s Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program.

The Future Belongs to Our Children – Or Does it?

What have we created?  Before 1970 – there were no drive-thrus.  Today – we make excuse after excuse why it is our ‘right’ to use drive-thrus – in light of the fact that drive-thrus contribute to children dying, asthma rates soaring (fourfold over the last fifteen years) and our earths losing ability to take on any more abuse caused by our C02 emissions.
In Ontario, the number of “smog days” nearly quadrupled from 15 in 1995 to 53 in 2005. If nothing is done to clean the air, medical experts estimate that by 2026 the number of smog-related premature deaths in Ontario alone will hit 10,000 annually. The combined health care and lost productivity costs are expected to exceed $1 billion. Pollution is a particularly serious issue for London, Ontario, the city with the province’s second highest number of smog days after Toronto. London has had 3 smog days already this year – all before the month of May.

Killer smog takes toll – Ontario Medical Association

Killer smog takes toll

By JOHN MINER, SUN MEDIA

Smog will hasten the deaths of 348 London-Middlesex residents this year and take a toll of 9,500 province wide, the Ontario Medical Association warned today.

“It is actually a little worse than what we have found before,” said Dr. Ted Boadway, a health policy consultant with the OMA.

The London region is home to some of Canada’s dirtiest air, much of it blown in from the U.S. industrial midwest, with homegrown sources – from traffic to coal-fired electricity generation – accounting for much of the rest.

The OMA developed its estimate of premature deaths for individual areas from Environment Canada air pollution data, hospital emergency visit information and health studies during smog events.

It characterized the number as “staggering.”

Out of the 9,500 Ontario deaths, more than 1,000 are expected to occur during or immediately after periods of increased pollution.

The rest of the premature deaths are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Boadway said numbers for London-Middlesex are higher than in many areas because the region is susceptible to smog moving north across Lake Erie and northeast from the Windsor-U.S. areas.

“You can get it from two different wind directions, which makes it unfortunate,” he said.

The OMA study said rural areas aren’t exempt from smog and in some cases the air quality in the city is better than in less urbanized areas.

On high dirty air days, the OMA recommends:

-Reduce strenuous outdoor activities or confine them to early morning or evening.

-Drink fluids to stay hydrated.

-Stay in a cool, clean, air-conditioned place if you’re vulnerable to effects of smog.

-Speak to your doctor about how best to manage if you suffer from respiratory or cardiac illness.

-Know your limits and pay attention to how you’re feeling.

Boadway said there’s more public awareness about the health effects of smog than there was 10 years ago when the OMA first started studying the problem.

“When we first started to talk about this, quite frankly, it was likely speaking into an empty room. People weren’t tuned in,” he said.

“Now people are very much aware that something needs to be done about the air and the environment and they are asking their politicians to be accountable.”

John Miner is a Free Press reporter is a Free Press reporter.

Letter to Editor – Curtail drive-throughs on heavy smog days

Letter to Editor

UNLESS otherwise noted, these letters are to be considered unedited. The opinions expressed in the letters and comments are those of the writers and not of The London Free Press.

drive-thru


Curtail drive-throughs on heavy smog days.


In light of the known environmental and health impacts of car exhaust, I am writing on behalf of the London West NDP riding association executive council to express support for a moratorium on further drive-through construction and operation within the city of London. The more than 150 in operation is enough.

Given the advances in long-range weather forecasting and air-quality monitoring, we believe drive-through operations at food and coffee establishments should be restricted from operating on smog-advisory days, as well as on the two days preceding a smog advisory alert day predicted to occur with 60 per cent probability.

Finally, clear signage posted at the drive-through establishments should indicate idling is restricted to one minute, citing the appropriate city bylaw and the fine for infractions.

POSTED BY: Peter Ferguson, President London West NDP Riding Association, London
POSTED ON: May 28, 2008

EDITORS NOTE: As published in The London Free Press on May 28, 2008.

Ontario’s smog causes 9,500 deaths per year, medical association says

Last Updated: Friday, June 6, 2008

CBC News

Air pollution causes 9,500 premature deaths a year in Ontario, new research suggests.

Data from the Ontario Medical Association says that smog causes a worsening in respiratory and cardiac illnesses and contributes to earlier mortality as a result.

The OMA’s Illness Costs of Air Pollution model finds that of the 9,500 premature deaths from air pollution, 1,000 occurred immediately after times of intense pollution. The model uses air pollution levels, rates of illness and demographic data to project air-related premature deaths for 2008.

The areas with the highest numbers of smog-related deaths in Ontario were Toronto, with 2,130, Peel Region, with 700 and York Region with 590.

“The health impacts from smog range anywhere from itchy eyes and sore throats to respiratory and cardiac illnesses and even premature death,” said Dr. Ken Arnold, president of the OMA, in a news release.

He urged Ontarians to take steps to protect themselves by minimizing their exposure to poor air during times when air warnings are in effect.

That includes refraining from strenuous exercise or limiting time outdoors to early morning or evening, when smog levels are lower.

It also means people should drink liquids to prevent dehydration, stay in cool, air-conditioned environments as much as possible and to take preventive steps if they have chronic health problems, such as increasing medication on the recommendation of a physician.

‘It’s important for those who may be more at risk from smog-related illness to consult their doctor on how they can stay protected,” said Arnold.