Letter from the Editor: air pollution and climate change

Energy management and carbon dioxide are this week’s big hitters. If you’re into the former, there’s money to be had, and the latter appears to have a silver lining. Scientists in Colorado have found that the gas can prevent the creation of other pollutants.

The leaves of poplar trees emit a hydrocarbon that contributes to ground-based ozone and enhances the life of methane, but elevated levels of carbon dioxide can stop the gas from being produced. This is fortunate, as a different set of researchers have found that fires in the Amazon rainforests are likely to emit twice as much carbon dioxide as previously thought. This, of course, contributes to climate change that, it has been revealed this week, may have caused a change in the Earth’s atmospheric layers.

Other high emissions of air pollutants are coming from commuters across the US, who are proving surprisingly difficult to prise from their cars, even when they have shiny new railways built for them. Car sharing, however, is becoming popular, particularly where there are high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

Fortunately, there are solutions in sight to our energy extravagance. The EU is introducing a directive on energy performance for buildings in 2006, and the new Greek presidency of the EU states that it intends to advance work on an ‘intelligent’ energy funding programme, a cogeneration support framework, and energy efficiency of appliances. In the UK, the Carbon Trust has outlined which energy efficient technology it will be assisting, and Australia is building the world’s tallest structure, which will be used to generate solar thermal power.

And finally, if you want an efficient fridge that can cope with our rising temperatures, look no further than the latest invention in France – cooling using ice coulis. Apparently it’s more reliable than the CFC variety that we are currently struggling to dispose of correctly.

Kind regards

Helen André


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