Shall I Breathe?

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Shall I breathe!

Even masks are terrified with pollution in #Kathmandu #Dustmandu

What do you think is the easiest task? Breathing? That is what I find the most difficult one in Kathmandu. Locality matters!

Air pollution is a major environmental and ultimately a health problem in developed as well as developing cities. Kathmandu is not an exception. Instead, Kathmandu has gotten some new names because of dust and air pollution. Dustmandu and Maskmandu are the commonest ones. A recent analysis of air pollution in Kathmandu for the period of one month, Magh, showed that, the 24-hour daily averages of the PM2.5 (Particulate Matter of less than 2.5 micrometre diameter) concentration in Kathmandu atmosphere were beyond the government standard of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, let alone the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 25 micrograms per cubic metre.

At first, what is very difficult for me to understand is how the government standard becomes 60 per cent higher than the WHO standard. Is it because Gorkhalis are brave enough to tolerate higher levels of pollution than the WHO standard? If so, I am not a Gorkhali. Or I am an exceptional one!

The current analyses on air pollution are being done only on the PM2.5 concentration basis. What about other pollutants such as ground-level ozone, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Carbon monoxide (CO)? Are these pollutants within the recommended standard? What would be the quality of air if the impact of these pollutants is also included in determining the air quality of Kathmandu Valley? A recent WHO report states that, of the 1.7 million child deaths every year, five hundred seventy thousand children under five year of age die from respiratory infections attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Though exact figure of such death is not available for Kathmandu, we can easily assume that such death is high here as Kathmandu has been ranked as the seventh worst polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality recently. How can we expect a high number of children to survive who get born in the seventh worst polluted city in the world and inhale the poisonous air since their first breathe?

Suggestions you will get to avoid the pollution in Kathmandu are so ridiculous – avoid all sports activities, do physical activities only after noon, don’t go for a morning or evening walk as air pollution is higher in the morning and in the evening! Are these pragmatic suggestions? We have to wait till noon for any physical activities? Sounds like there will be suggestions like “Don’t breathe wherever and whenever you like!” in the near future. What I have understood is that the static blanket of polluted air near the earth’s surface in the morning gets dispersed as a result of human and vehicular movements. To some extent, the solar radiation helps. But if nobody comes out of their house till noon, does the air quality automatically improve as such? I don’t think so. And is it ‘ethical’ to prevent children from going outside and playing? Can we expect them to be healthy that way? I am quite confused if these suggestions are intended to prepare healthy or ailing citizens. Is it practicable to put a mask on a two-year child while carrying him out of the house? According to news reports, the ordinary, cheap cloth masks that people generally put on in Kathmandu are also ineffective against the pollutant particles. According to researches, the oldest and the youngest are the most affected people due to air pollution. We can somehow accuse the oldest generation for not acting to curb pollution earlier. But what crime has a newborn done to inhale poisonous air since his/her first breath? The pollution levels are recorded and published; not forecasted so that we can avoid the peak hours of pollution every day.

The only panacea is – cleaning the atmosphere. The recent move to ban the twenty-year-old vehicles is a good one. According to a BBC report, the brick kilns of the valley destroyed by the 2015 earthquake are being rebuilt using new technology that emits less polluting soot and smoke. For widening the road, the government cut so many green trees in many parts of the ring road some years ago, but when it comes to curbing pollution it does not plant trees. Trees are reported to have a significant impact in reducing the atmospheric pollution. What is preventing the government for large roadside plantations? Are we only focusing on development with no concerns about the environment? Can such development be sustainable? What is the use of a city with roads of multiple lanes and skyscrapers where you have to fear for ‘breathing’? 

Twitter: @AacharyaAaditya

Reducing carbon emissions: Responsibility of key nations

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The United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 13th assembly in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007, first developed the concept of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, it was found that deforestation and forest degradation account for nearly 20 per cent emission in the form of carbon. Hence to reduce the GHG emission, preventing deforestation and forest land degradation was seen as one of the crucial tasks. And, for those developing and underdeveloped countries that help in reducing the atmospheric carbon by capturing and sequestering in their forests, the developed countries, listed as Annex I countries, which are the top GHG emitters, had to help them financially and technically. Based on the results of how much carbon is sequestered by the forests with reference to a certain baseline data, the forests are to be paid. This is the basic concept of carbon trading. The REDD mechanism became REDD+ and REDD++ after additional components such as sustainable management of forests and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks are included in it.

Global temperature is soaring neither because ‘we’ (Nepalese) are consuming a high amount of fossil fuels nor because we are rapidly clearing forest lands. The amount of GHGs emitted by Nepal annually hardly equals the daily emission, if not hourly, by, for example, China alone. Similar comparisons can be made with the USA, India, Russia, Japan and the European Union. Nepal’s contribution to global GHG emission is just 0.025 per cent. Ceteris paribus, it would take forty years for Nepal to emit 1 per cent of the current annual global GHG emission. Even if we allocate our whole budget in fossil fuel only, our contribution to annual global GHG emission probably won’t reach 1 per centAnd still, we are behind REDD that aims to reduce atmospheric carbon by preventing deforestation from us, not from the top emitters! Should we always focus on forest conservation only or think about development too? It is not that development cannot be achieved within environmental protection, but instead of regulating a REDD implementation mechanism, deploying that manpower in other developmental works will be more beneficial. We are in the list of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) not because we don’t have sufficient money but because we don’t have the ability to spend it effectively and the will to develop ourselves.

Anyway, we are implementing REDD, but the issues of permanency, leakage, baseline data, etc. are raised and we are not certain to be paid again. We have been calculating the amount of dollars we deserve from our carbon sink but we don’t know if we will really get it. Just a year ago, officials were wary of the source of money for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which is supposed to pay for the carbon sink after 4 years, i.e. 2020 AD and the scenario has not yet changed significantly.

What makes the situation worse is the recent political development in the United States, which is also the second largest GHG emitting country, where the newly elected president Donald J. Trump has expressed doubts over climate science, signifying it as a hoax. How can we expect such a country to pay for the carbon sink whose president-elect has even threatened to withdraw last year’s already ratified Paris agreement?

We have always been discussing how Nepal can get benefits from carbon trading. We hardly hear the discussions about how carbon trading benefits the environment actually, as the objective of REDD is to reduce the emissions and ultimately limit the rise in temperature. But at the same time, the top carbon-emitting countries do not seem to be serious about cutting down their emissions. Though the ratification of last year’s Paris agreement by many countries earlier than expected showed some silver linings, the recent political development seems to jeopardize the deal. It is not sure now that they will fulfill their commitment to limit the emissions.

If we really work for the environment, we must be able to tell them, the top emitters, “We don’t want any payment for the carbon we sequester. It’s our responsibility towards the environment/ the mother earth. We actually need you to cut down the emissions.” Then only will we have the ethical right to pressurize them to cut down the emissions. Otherwise, they will always go on saying that they were helping to mitigate the effects of climate change by paying for the carbon and it seems that we are letting them emit as much GHGs as they want for the sake of money. Expecting money from the one and pressurizing the same to cut emission does not seem reasonable. What if those countries themselves say that they won’t pay for the carbon sink? The USA may say so soon. Will we start deforestation to pressurize them? Certainly not.

Developed countries are also unwilling to cut down emissions in the name of ‘economic growth’. But, the Climate Group, in one of its news stories last year, wrote – “Demonstrating again that economic growth can be achieved within environmental protection, according to the document presented to the press, ‘Switzerland emits less GHG today than in 1990 despite the fact that gross national product increased by 36% over the intervening period.’”

If Switzerland can do it, can’t other countries do the same?

tht-opinion-2016-nov-17


[ Rewritten article of Carbon Trade Hallucinations (own blog) and published in The Himalayan Times, November 17, 2016. http://thehimalayantimes.com/opinion/reducing-carbon-emissions-responsibility-key-nations/ ]

Amplifying happiness

Also in this link: http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/amplifying-happiness

Happiness

How would you feel if you found five bucks while walking on a roadside? Happy? Extremely happy? Maybe that depends on the amount of money you find.

Same happened to me some weeks ago. I found five rupees (Nepali currency) while walking on a roadside. I felt very happy. Five rupees is not that great amount of money, but I had found it without any effort. The bank note was right in front of me and I just had to bend down to pick it up. That was all.

Without thinking anything, I picked up the note. Holding it in my hand I continued my regular move.

After walking for a few minutes, I just remembered some beggars asking for money while I was coming from my room in the morning. I had to pass across a hospital daily and there used to be so many ailing people in the road in front of the hospital asking for money or food or something else.

To be honest, I hadn’t given them (those in front of the hospital) anything till that day. I don’t know what prompted me but I thought of giving the five rupees I found just before, to one of them while returning back to the room.

In the evening, on my way back to the room, I did as planned. There was a guy with no legs. I didn’t throw the note into the begging bowl. Instead, I put it in his hand and asked what had happened to his legs. He told me that he was born like that. He was so grateful for that small amount of money – I cannot describe it here by writing.

Now I know how to amplify happiness. If I find hundred rupees, I will be extremely happy. But if I distribute it to ten destitute people, ten rupees each, ten more people will be happy and I can feel the happiness eleven times – once because of finding the money and ten times because of sharing it. What I think I discovered is, one sorrow (of the person who lost the money) can be changed into lots of happiness. The one thing we have to learn is to find happiness in sharing and seeing other people happy.

No, I am not bragging but just wanted to share how my little happiness, on finding a small bank note, got amplified.

My dear friends, what will you do if you find a hundred bucks? I know you will be happy. And hope you will amplify it too!

 

मुक्तक

कवितामा हिमनदी र झरनाहरु झर्नु पर्छ 

गज़लले प्रदुषणको सक्दो बिरोध गर्नु पर्छ 

साहित्यका लागि मात्रै होइनन हाइकु मुक्तकहरु 

प्रकृतिलाई जोगाउन मुक्तक अघि सर्नु पर्छ ।।

२०६९ ९ २४

मुक्तक

अरुबाटै भए पनि रमाउँदै तिम्ले – सिउँदोभरि रातो सिन्दुर ला’को हेर्न मन छ ।

मदनले मुनालाई दिए भन्दा पनि – तिम्ले अझै धेरै माया पा’को हेर्न मन छ … ।

अझै पनि तड्पीरा’छु तिम्रै खुशी हेर्नलाई – धेरै भयो तिम्रो ओठमा मुस्कान नदेखेको

आत्महत्या गर्या झुठो हल्ला फैलाएर – एकै पटक तिमी खुशी भा’को हेर्न मन छ ।  😂


मुक्तक

जीवन अनि मृत्यु बीचको, साँधको अभाव खेपिरा’छु ।

नयनबाट बाढी रोक्ने, बाँधको अभाव खेपिरा’छु ।

के-के मात्र चाहिने यो #साला_जिन्दगीमा…… !!

अाजभाेलि रुन एउटा, काँध को अभाव खेपिरा’छु ।