Jump to content
Clubplanet Nightlife Community
Sign in to follow this  
nycmuzik

'Asian Brown Cloud' poses global threat

Recommended Posts

HONG KONG, China -- A dense blanket of pollution, dubbed the "Asian Brown Cloud," is hovering over South Asia, with scientists warning it could kill millions of people in the region, and pose a global threat.

In the biggest-ever study of the phenomenon, 200 scientists warned that the cloud, estimated to be two miles (three kilometers) thick, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year from respiratory disease.

By slashing the sunlight that reaches the ground by 10 to 15 percent, the choking smog has also altered the region's climate, cooling the ground while heating the atmosphere, scientists said on Monday.

The potent haze lying over the entire Indian subcontinent -- from Sri Lanka to Afghanistan -- has led to some erratic weather, sparking flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and northeastern India, but drought in Pakistan and northwestern India.

"There are also global implications, not least because a pollution parcel like this, which stretches three kilometers high, can travel half way round the globe in a week, " U.N. Environment Program chief Klaus Toepfer told a news conference in London on Sunday.

The U.N.'s preliminary report comes three weeks before the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, which opens on August 26, where all eyes will be on how not to overburden the planet.

Global threat

While haze hovers over other parts of the world, such as above America and Europe, what surprised scientists was just how far the cloud extended, and how much black carbon was in it, according to A P Mitra from India's National Physical Laboratory.

A cocktail of aerosols, ash, soot and other particles, the haze's reach extends far beyond the study zone of the Indian subcontinent, and towards East and Southeast Asia.

While many scientists once thought that only lighter greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, could travel across the Earth, they now say that aerosol clouds can too.

"Biomass burning" from forest fires, vegetation clearing and fossil fuel was just as much to blame for the shrouding haze as dirty industries from Asia's great cities, the study found.

A large part of the aerosol cloud comes from inefficient cookers, where fuels such as cowdung and kerosene are used to cook food in many parts of Asia, says Mitra.

Acid rain

Using data from ships, planes and satellites to study Asia's haze during the northern winter months of 1995 to 2000, scientists were able to track it's journey to pristine parts of the world, such as the Maldives, to see how it affected climate.

They discovered not only that the smog cut sunlight, heating the atmosphere, but also that it created acid rain, a serious threat to crops and trees, as well as contaminating oceans and hurting agriculture.

"It was much larger than we thought," said Mitra. The report suggested the pollution could be cutting India's winter rice harvest by as much as 10 percent.

The report calculated that the cloud -- 80 percent of which was man-made -- could cut rainfall over northwest Pakistan, Afghanistan, western China and western central Asia by up to 40 percent.

While scientists say it is just early days and they need more scientific data, they do say the regional and global impact of the haze will intensify over the next 30 years, with an estimated five billion people living in Asia.

Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen -- one of the first scientists to identify the causes of the hole in the ozone layer and also involved in the U.N. report -- said up to two million people in India alone were dying each year from atmospheric pollution.

In the next phase of the project, they will collect data from the entire Asian region, over more seasons with more observation sites and refine their techniques.

But because the lifetime of pollutants are short and they can be rained out, scientists are hopeful that if people use more efficient ways of burning fuel, such as better stoves, and cleaner sources of energy, time has not run out.

http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/south/08/12/asia.haze/index.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by bigpoppanils

if it makes anyone feel better....the Ford Excursion and Lincoln Blackwood are dead...:rock:

Hahh,, well that's something, but we gotta get rid of those 70's dusters el Dorado's to see any substantial change.

But this is indeed unhappy, real news that we gotta deal with. This smog will eventually hit the U.S. It will be interesting to see what we do about it

(already seeing everyone and their grandmother wearing gas masks 24/7) :blank:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by gmccookny

Hahh,, well that's something, but we gotta get rid of those 70's dusters el Dorado's to see any substantial change.

But this is indeed unhappy, real news that we gotta deal with. This smog will eventually hit the U.S. It will be interesting to see what we do about it

(already seeing everyone and their grandmother wearing gas masks 24/7) :blank:

if it does, i wonder who bush will blame....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×