“India Looks to New Policies to Promote Scrap Metal Recycling” – Metal Miner, 23 February 2015

India’s recycling rate is the one of the lowest in the world, hovering around 25%, while the US’s rate has climbed, now sitting at 90%. India’s recycling rate remains poor because the government is fairly indifferent, and because the population is unaware of the advantages of recycling. The country’s low recycling rate is a stressor on India’s primary production — constantly having to manufacture primary metals instead of recycling scrap has weakened India’s natural resources.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s main objective is to push India’s government to become generally proactive and organizations are beginning to take notice. The Metal Recycling Association of India has petitioned the government to create and enforce a metal recycling policy. Recently, there was a 2015 Metal Recycling Association of Indian International Conference in Mumbai, where the participants detailed what they believe India’s government should do to boost scrap recycling, including, “Remove the basic import duty of 5% on steel scrap, give it industry status, subsidize lending rates, allow Foreign Direct Investment and increase financing facilities,” which would make scrap recycling more attractive to bigger companies.

India is growing as a leader in the motor vehicles industries — the country is seventh-largest in the automobile industry and second-largest in two-wheeled vehicles, like scooters and motorcycles. Having a fluid recycling practice would let those industries develop even more in India. Currently, India’s stainless steel factories utilize 53% scrap in their manufacturing processes, while US factories use 76%.

For developing country like India with culture of “nothing goes wasted,” it is imperative that India extrapolates her recycling from “personal ” to “industrial.” India should look to developed countries to further understand how to advance its recycling system, so that it may take advantage of secondary materials, rather than constantly having to create primary materials, a harmful practice for the country.

(From Metal Miner)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 3, 2015

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“A Climate Accord Based on Global Peer Pressure” – New York Times, 14 December 2014

Last month, almost 200 nations gathered in Lima, Peru to agree on a global pact to reduce fossil fuel emissions, one of the primary causes of climate change. The deal — called the Lima Accord — shows huge progress in global effort to fight the effects of climate change: it’s the first time that these nations will make a unilateral effort to curb the use of oil, gas, and coal.

However, the Lima Accord is not lawfully mandatory. If it were legally binding, then the nearly 200 nations wouldn’t have agreed to the deal — not even the US. Instead, the hope is that global peer pressure will be the impetus to move the accord forward. At this point, every nation has agreed to place limits on its carbon emissions.

According to the accord, each nation will have to introduce carbon-cutting domestic legislation by either March or June. Laws will delineate how each country will curb emissions after 2020. These proposals are known to the UN as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” which will be included in an upcoming climate deal in Paris in 2015.

But because the Lima Accord has no requirements, countries could conceive of feeble plans that wouldn’t drastically combat the effects of climate change. Countries also have the choice of not even offering a plan — and if they don’t submit a plan, there are no fines or retribution.

Again, the accord relies on peer pressure and a method called “name-and-shame.” Each countries’ plan will be posted to the UN’s site as public information. If the countries’ plans are made public and some are found to be weak in comparison, then the shame of such a weakness will hopefully push that country to strengthen its plan.

The biggest worry comes with the top three polluters: the US, China, and India. While President Obama has tried to make climate change a vital element of his second term, his legacy really depends on what happens after his term is over. He has vowed to reduce emissions by at least 28 percent by 2025, which can be attained if tailpipe and power plant emissions regulations are passed. Unfortunately, most Republican White House contenders are staunch opponents of Obama’s climate change policies and likely don’t care about global urgencies.

China has been pushed to seek methods of reducing emissions due to discord among its citizens, as citizens disapproved of China’s worsening air quality. The country has now eclipsed the US as the number one polluter — President Xi Jinping has promised that China’s emissions will spike in 2030 and then fall. In order to ensure that target, the country is enacting a national cap-and-trade structure where polluters will have to purchase greenhouse gas emissions.

Because curbing emissions can be costly, it is a difficult burden for developing nations. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cast aside any efforts towards reversing climate change, instead focusing on economic growth and poverty, which could mean building new coal power plants. However, India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has stated that the country will offer a plan in June.

Other countries that climate change policy observers are following are Russia and Australia. Russian President Vladimir V. Putin doesn’t believe that humans cause climate change, and Australia has phased out its Department of Climate Change, and also revoked a carbon tax.

While we have a majority of the countries on board with the deal, there are a few important strays that will determine whether or not the Lima Accord is indeed productive.

(From New York Times)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

December 15, 2014

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“Climate Change and Infected Bushmeat Threaten Women on Frontlines of the Ebola Crisis” – Vice, 24 September 2014

The origin of the rapidly spreading Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been linked to two cases: 1. From a woman in Kailahun, Sierra Leone who served wild game to herself and her husband — the animal was carrying the virus; and 2. From another Sierra Leonean woman, a traditional healer who was working in Guinea with Ebola victims.

Sierra Leone’s government has been emphasizing the fact that Ebola is mainly growing from human to human contact, however, many believe the Ebola outbreak in Guinea began with bats. Bats are hunted for food in the region and are called “bushmeat.”

In the region, women are expected to handle food for the family. This issue, coupled with the impact climate change has had on food supplies — where women are often forced to seek out infected bushmeat — shows that women are bearing the brunt of two crises in Africa: the Ebola virus and climate change.

Seasonal drought, larger storms, and landslides are beginning to have a lasting influence on agricultural production in the region, and are encouraging families to hunt for wild animals. The same has occurred in the past in Malaysia and Bangladesh, where climactic changes caused epidemics because humans and agriculture began encroaching on bat habitats. As the effects of climate change continue to set in, food will likely become more difficult to grow, especially in western equatorial Africa.

The governments of Guinea and Sierra Leone have reported that 55-60 perfect of the people who have died from Ebola are women, while the Liberian government have revealed that 75 percent have been women. According to the Liberian Health Ministry, Ebola has largely affected more women due to their duties as caregiver — they have more contact with both diseased meat and diseased people.

However, the World Health Organization and Imperial College London published a new report denying the women’s death tolls, stating that there is no large difference between the sexes. The fatality rate is estimated to be 71 percent. The WHO’s goal is for the virus to stop spreading within six to nine months; the CDC calculates that the virus can transmit to 1.4 million people within four months.

Many view the Sierra Leone government as mis-informative: while they stress that the virus is transmitted from person-to-person, they fail to educate families on where the virus originated from, and fail to inform these families about the existence of infected bushmeat.

Another strain of Ebola has broken out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the WHO has tracked the source to a pregnant woman who was preparing infected bushmeat.

Across the world, and particularly in the US, climate change has become a hot button topic — even Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the budding issue in front of the UN. When speaking on climate change, we discuss the massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions China and India release into the air; we discuss the growing number of natural disasters and the general climactic upheaval; and we discuss the effect that climate change will have on our food supplies, and on the economies of poorer nations. Now, we are actually seeing how the effects of climate change are reaching the world’s poorer, outlying nations. Moreover, we are seeing how climate change is affecting the caregivers of families and leaving many children as orphans.

This is an increasingly prevalent duality that deserves our attention. If the celebrity of Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t direct our attention to the worsening impact of climate change, then hopefully this situation will.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 24, 2014

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The Washington Post’s “A Climate for Change”

The Washington Post announced that it is initiating a series of editorials, called “A Climate for Change,” urging a shift in the way climate change is spoken about and acted upon in the US.

In America, many still hold the paradoxical belief that climate change doesn’t exist, and/or there is nothing we can do about it, and use a number of reasons to justify their skepticism and distrust. While the general public often places the importance of the economy and jobs above the environment, Republicans contend that we can’t trust the science, curbing emissions will further injure our already-hurt economy, and the US won’t make an impact if China and India don’t also cut down on their emissions. Democrats who represent coal states don’t necessarily stand behind their party’s climate policy because it could damage their chances for reelection. Conversely, a number of environmentalists and Democrats push to win trivial conflicts, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Action on climate change has declined since President Obama arrived in the Oval Office in 2008. Obama has made climate change a key cornerstone of his agenda for both his terms, as did 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain. But when Obama took office in 2008, the Republicans simultaneously took a fierce opposition to his climate policy, forcing Obama to enact his Climate Action Plan through executive order.

Now the world desperately needs us to rethink how we deal with climate change. Sea levels, temperatures, and the likelihood of natural disasters are rapidly rising, all of which will impact every corner of the earth. As the Washington Post points out, Obama and the EPA might not even be doing enough to counteract the effects of climate change. The US should be a leader in introducing new climate change policy, which will hopefully spur other nations to follow suit.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

August 25, 2014

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