Ecology & Environment Notes 2020 (#1): Gas Flaring, Polar Bears

Air pollution In Africa

  • Air pollution was rivalling communicable diseases in the central and west Africa region, posing just as serious a health threat.
  • The average person in the region is exposed to particulate pollution levels double the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to report by The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
  • A comparison with other environmental health risks and prominent communicable diseases shows that air pollution is as serious a concern. 

Yash Pal Abrol

  • Yash Pal Abrol, a pioneer in the field of nitrogen research in India and a renowned plant physiologist and biochemist, died on the morning of July 28, 2020. He was 84.
  • His most recent contribution was the Indian Nitrogen Assessment (2017), which led India to pilot the first ever United Nations (UN) resolution on sustainable nitrogen management.

Air pollution in India

  • Nearly 250 million residents of north India are on track to lose more than eight years of life expectancy if air pollution levels are not reduced drastically, a new report based on an analysis of 20 years of pollution levels has found.
  • In India, the world’s second-most polluted country (first is Bangladesh), air pollution shortened the average life expectancy by 5.2 years, relative to what it did if the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline was met; and 2.3 years relative to what it would be if pollution was reduced to meet the country’s own national standard, stated the report.
  • The report was released on July 28, 2020, by The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
  • Globally, the average person is losing 1.9 years of life expectancy due to particulate pollution exceeding the WHO guideline.

Gas flaring

  • Gas flaring or burning of natural gas during oil extraction contributes 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent every year.
  • A recent analysis from the World Bank says that gas flaring is not only increasing but has also hit the highest level in a decade.
  • The three per cent rise in gas flaring in just a year is mostly due to increase in three countries — the United States, Venezuela and Russia.

Polar bears

  • Most polar bears will become extinct by the end of this century if global warming continues, a study published on July 20, 2020, said.
  • Polar bears hunt seals on sea ice. But as temperatures rise, hunting opportunities will decline for the animals. If they are unable to hunt and eat, they won’t be able to reproduce as a result.
  • If greenhouse gases are emitted at their current rate, only polar bears living in the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Canada’s Arctic Archipelago will remain by the end of the century.