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Air pollution is a problem in many parts of the world, but especially India, China, Bangladesh and a number of other countries in Asia. During the World Economic Forum it was announced that India has the world’s worst air quality. Is the air pollution experienced in these countries primarily due to human activities such as heavy industry? Likely. A combination of emissions from vehicles, coal power plants and other sources is enough to make populations vulnerable to diseases caused by breathing in polluted air. But it’s not like this is a new problem, many of the more developed countries have had similar if not the same problems with poor air quality and in many cases still do. For example, London’s air decreases the life expectancy of its residents. Read more
Diffuse pollution is a challenge for environmental management: the problem is seen as originating from an extensive area and there are limited funds available to undertake mitigation works. This combination of factors means that it is important to target the mitigation works within the landscape to ensure maximum benefit. IHRR researchers at Durham University have been working with researchers at Lancaster, Reading and Bristol to build solutions to these problems at the national, regional and local scales. These tools enable the assessment of the landscape dynamics and the identification of the optimal placement of mitigation features, such as new woodland planting, for maximum benefit. These tools can also identify sites and measures most likely to give multiple benefits in terms of biodiversity improvements, diffuse pollution risk reduction and flood risk reduction.
Many environmental hazards are visually impressive including floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions. All of them have a wow factor in that they grab news headlines. However, other environmental hazards can pose a significant problem, but originate from the accumulation of many small events spread out over a huge landscape. These small events would not be a big problem if water didn’t move across the landscape concentrating the material into streams, rivers and lakes. Diffuse pollution (or non-point source pollution) is one of the widely distributed problems that is having a significant impact on the water quality of rivers and lakes, and leads to significant environmental hazard.
The River Eden is one of the most beautiful rivers in the UK, if not all of Europe. It is host to a wide variety of different plant and animal species and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Many communities live on or near the River Eden or one of its tributaries. Human impact on the landscape often has unintended or unforeseen consequences on ecosystems, including rivers. Agriculture, primarily through the use of fertilisers, changes the ecology of river systems which affects all plant and wildlife as well as humans.
Over time, pollutants accumulate in the River Eden through farming practices, something that has been of concern to local communities and scientists alike. In order to monitor and develop ways for decreasing diffuse pollution from agriculture, researchers from Durham, Lancaster, Newcastle, the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, Askham Bryan College (Newton Rigg) and the Eden Rivers Trust, have come together with communities, including farmers, to develop new ways to monitor and improve river water quality. The project known as the Eden Demonstration Test Catchment, or EdenDTC for short, has installed 10 river monitoring stations to monitor the water quality of the River Eden. The EdenDTC has made live, real-time data about the River Eden freely available online. Read more
Anyone reading this likely knows (or should know) that reducing global CO2 emissions can start at the household level. There are a number of useful guides out there for monitoring emissions of households. For the US, the Cool Climate Network based at UC Berkeley is definitely worth a look. Here’s the average carbon footprint they came up with for a typical US household based on five different kinds of energy consumption: