An employee walking along a thermal pipe at the Kamojang geothermal
power plant near Garut, West Java, on March 18. State utility provider
 Perusahaan Listrik Negara is targeting an additional 135 megawatts of
electricity from three new geothermal plants. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)
 

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,.. etc.)
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - (Text version)

“.. Nuclear Power Revealed

So let me tell you what else they did. They just showed you what's wrong with nuclear power. "Safe to the maximum," they said. "Our devices are strong and cannot fail." But they did. They are no match for Gaia.

It seems that for more than 20 years, every single time we sit in the chair and speak of electric power, we tell you that hundreds of thousands of tons of push/pull energy on a regular schedule is available to you. It is moon-driven, forever. It can make all of the electricity for all of the cities on your planet, no matter how much you use. There's no environmental impact at all. Use the power of the tides, the oceans, the waves in clever ways. Use them in a bigger way than any designer has ever put together yet, to power your cities. The largest cities on your planet are on the coasts, and that's where the power source is. Hydro is the answer. It's not dangerous. You've ignored it because it seems harder to engineer and it's not in a controlled environment. Yet, you've chosen to build one of the most complex and dangerous steam engines on Earth - nuclear power.

We also have indicated that all you have to do is dig down deep enough and the planet will give you heat. It's right below the surface, not too far away all the time. You'll have a Gaia steam engine that way, too. There's no danger at all and you don't have to dig that far. All you have to do is heat fluid, and there are some fluids that boil far faster than water. So we say it again and again. Maybe this will show you what's wrong with what you've been doing, and this will turn the attitudes of your science to create something so beautiful and so powerful for your grandchildren. Why do you think you were given the moon? Now you know.

This benevolent Universe gave you an astral body that allows the waters in your ocean to push and pull and push on the most regular schedule of anything you know of. Yet there you sit enjoying just looking at it instead of using it. It could be enormous, free energy forever, ready to be converted when you design the methods of capturing it. It's time. …”
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

'Great wall of Jakarta' plan to combat floods

Yahoo – AFP, Sam Reeves, 15 Oct 2014

Children residing in the slum area play along a dyke as construction of the
Jakarta sea wall begins, October 9, 2014 (AFP/Photo By Romeo Gaca)

Jakarta has launched a multi-billion-dollar scheme to build a huge sea wall to combat flooding as the Indonesian capital sinks, but there is scepticism about its chances of success in a country with a history of corruption and failed megaprojects.

The 35-kilometre (22-mile) wall, across the Bay of Jakarta off the city's northern coast, is the centrepiece of a project that will cost up to $40 billion over three decades, and also includes reclaiming land for 17 new islands.

The whole project will form the shape of a Garuda, the mythical bird that is Indonesia's national symbol.

Children residing in the slum area play 
along a dyke as construction of the 
Jakarta sea wall begins, October 9, 
2014 (AFP/Photo By Romeo Gaca)
While the aim is to prevent floods, it is hoped up to one million people will live and work on the islands, and help take pressure off a crowded city notorious as one of the world's most uninviting urban sprawls.

Supporters of the project, which officially got under way last week and is run by the Indonesian government with help from Dutch experts, say it is the only long-term solution.

"It's a life-and-death situation," said Purba Robert M. Sianipar, a senior economics ministry official with a key role in the project, adding hundreds were at risk of losing their lives from severe flooding if action was not taken.

However, some wonder whether such an ambitious plan will ever be completed, given Indonesia's bad record on infrastructure projects, such as plan to build a monorail in Jakarta that was embroiled in a storm of corruption six years ago.

Chief Economics Minister Chairul Tanjung suggested as much at last week's launch event, saying disagreements with future governments could knock the project off schedule.

Others question the approach entirely, saying the project will not stop the city from sinking, while graft is also a major danger, with officials sometimes awarding tenders to unsuitable firms in exchange for large kickbacks.

Jakarta has long been hit by floods during the rainy season, when tropical downpours cause rivers to burst their banks and deluge inadequate drainage systems, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes.

Residents gather along a dyke in Jakarta
as construction of the Indonesian capital's
 sea wall begins, October 9, 2014 (AFP/
Photo By Romeo Gaca)
However in 2007, a new type of flood set alarm bells ringing.

Rivers could stop flowing

Slum neighbourhoods were inundated when a high tide surged over sea defences in northern Jakarta, something that had never happened before and which highlighted the severe land subsidence in many areas.

As Jakarta has rapidly grown to a population of about 10 million, increased water extraction for drinking has caused the ground to compact and parts of the city to sink, a problem seen in other coastal conurbations, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

Parts of coastal north Jakarta, which is built on soft clay, are sinking as fast as 14 centimetres (5.5 inches) a year, meaning they could be metres below sea level in a few decades, according to those behind the sea wall project.

"Basically we are pumping ourselves into the ground," said Victor Coenen, from Dutch consultants Witteveen and Bos, which devised the master plan for the project.

The subsidence also means the 13 rivers in Jakarta may sink below sea level and stop flowing, increasing the risk of inundations.

After the 2007 floods -- which forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes -- officials scrambled to come up with a plan.

It involves strengthening the current, low sea defences over the next few years to provide temporary protection for north Jakarta, home to more than four million people.

A wall of giant iron reinforcement pipes is installed during the construction
of the Jakarta sea wall, October 9, 2014 (AFP/Photo By Romeo Gaca)

Work will then begin on the main wall, which will sit six to eight kilometres (four to five miles) from the coast and will be seven metres (23 feet) above sea level.

Construction of the wall will be finished between 2025 and 2030, while development on the islands -- which will have a mix of high-end and low-cost housing -- could take another decade.

A huge reservoir will be created between the islands and sea wall, where water from downpours can be stored so it does not flood the city, and into which rivers will be able to flow freely.

Plans are also in progress to slow the land subsidence by providing piped water to Jakarta from other areas and stop extraction of ground water.



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Draft of the Master Plan for National Capital Integrated Coastal Development. 
(JG Screen Grab courtesy of the website of the Coordinating Ministry of
Economic Affairs)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ikea kitchens help sell insulation to Dutch – and UK could be next

Dutch consortia Energiesprong could give zero carbon retrofits to social homes across England, using innovative wrap-around insulated panels, if EU funding is approved

The Guardian, Arthur Neslen, Friday 10 October 2014

Dutch energiesprong (‘Energy Leap’) pilot project in Tilburg in the Netherlands.
Photograph: Rogier Bos/Energiesprong

More than 100,000 homes across the UK could be given a carbon-neutral retrofit by 2020 if the EU approves funding for a ground-breaking green social housing project this month.

The first pilot projects are due to start within a year on council estates and housing association properties in London, Birmingham and southern England and are set to save 1,950GWh of energy.

The Energiesprong (Energy Leap) initiative involves completely wrapping houses with insulated panel-facades that snap on like Lego. Insulated roofs adorned with 24 high-efficiency solar panels each are fastened on top, while heat pumps, hot water storage tanks and ventilation units are stored in garden sheds.

On the Woonwaard housing estate near Amsterdam, tenants whose homes have already received the upgrade say that the final effect is like living inside a ‘tea cosy’.

“This new house is great,” former social worker Astrid Andre, 58,told the Guardian. “You can’t hear the traffic from outside anymore. It feels as if I’m living in a private home, rather than social housing. Before, the wind used to go through the house in winter. I have arthritis and when the weather was colder, it became worse. But my bones are better now, more supple.”

Former social worker Astrid Andre, who lives near Amsterdam, says that both
noise and draft levels have improved since the retrofit. Photograph: Arthur
Neslen for The Guardian

The programme has already won a contract from the Dutch government to provide a wave of 10-day makeovers to 111,000 homes on estates mostly built in the 1960s and 70s. It is now bidding for €10m (£7.8m) from the EU’s Horizon 2020 money pot to extend the project to the UK and France.

Partners in the bid to bring the Dutch Energiesprongdevelopment team to the UK include the Greater London Authority (GLA), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) and the National Federation of Housing Associations (NFHA).

“The Netherlands has a head start but the basic logic is the same,” said Jasper van den Munckhof, Energiesprong’s director. “If you have political will, government support, and a housing association sector that can put up a strong volume for conceptual development, then there is a profitable case for builders to step in.”

Materials used for wall isolation in renovated houses by Dutch Energiesprong
in Arnhem. Photograph: Frank Hanswijk/Energiesprong

The deceptively simple idea behind the initiative has been to finance the roughly 300,000 mass-produced renovations from the estimated €6bn of savings from energy bills that they will make each year.

In the Netherlands, upfront capital comes from the WSW social bank, which has provided €6bn to underwrite government-backed 40-year loans to housing associations. These then charge tenants the same amount they had previously paid for rent and energy bills together, until the debt is repaid.

The prefabricated refurbishments come with a 40-year builders’ guarantee that covers the entire loan period, and a 5.25% return is guaranteed to participating housing associations.

But the renovations can only be done if all tenants in a block agree to it, and that spurred the invention of an unlikely environmental incentive: free bathrooms, fridges and Ikea kitchens, with electric cooking.

“Everyone has been talking about it since last December,” said Bianca Lakeman, a 32-year-old office worker and single mother on the Woonwaard estate. “They’re saying how the front facade is very modern but most of all they are talking about the beautiful Ikea kitchens.”

Tenants can choose the kitchen’s colour and design and, because the construction companies are contracted to provide maintenance for the next four decades, the new installations work out cheaper than the anticipated costs of servicing mid-20th century kitchens into the mid-21st century.

“When we started, there was a period where not everybody was keen,” said Marnette Vroegop, a concept developer for the Woonwaard housing association. “The main doubts were about whether it was realistic.”

Pierre Sponselee, director of Woonwaard housing association. Photograph:
Arthur Neslen for The Guardian

“There is one block of six houses here and one person still says no,” Pierre Sponselee, the association’s director said. “The man had lived here only for a year and came from another house where he’d had a renovation and he didn’t want another one. It is a pity for the rest of the neighbours.”

Minor complaints from tenants about the refurbishments have included noise from garden shed installations and increased awareness of internal house sounds, as floorboards become proportionately louder when outside noises are muffled.

Bianca’s block is due to be renovated this month in the latest construction round on the estate that will see another 50 zero energy homes created. “I’m very excited about it because it can keep my cost of living under control and reduce the effects of climate change,” she said.

Around 40% of Europe’s carbon dioxide emissions come from heating and lighting in buildings and the EU has set a zero energy requirement for all new house builds by 2021. But these only make up around 1% of the continent’s housing stock and how to persuade the construction industry to renovate to new and untried standards had been a vexed question.

With support from the Dutch government, Energiesprong dangled the carrot of secured long-term contracts for a market of up to 2.3m homes, and then asked a depressed construction sector what solutions they could come up with.

Energiesprong renovated building in Groningen. Photograph: Rogier Bos/
Energiesprong

The result was the beginnings of a reindustrialisation of the Dutch building sector, with construction companies taking 3D scans of houses to offer factory-produced refurbishments tailored to each house’s dimensions.

“We have to think like a manufacturer,” said Joost Nelis, the director of BAM, the Netherlands’ biggest construction company. “We want to shrink the garden power units like Apple did the iPad,” Nelis says.

The company is also experimenting with apartment blocks run on DC electricity, which increases solar panel efficiency by about 30%. Almost all buildings in the Netherlands run on AC, but few tower blocks have room for enough solar panels to generate electricity for more than five floors of homes.

While trade unions have enthusiastically signed up to Energiesprong, energy companies that use fossil fuels could lose out on the gathering transformation, according to Nelis. Tenants in places such as Woonwaard can already sell their excess electricity back to the grid and may one day be able to use electric cars to power their homes.

Ambitious though it is, Energiesprong says its programme of building renovations should be seen as a means to a low-carbon transformation of the building sector, rather than an end in itself.

Last week, a similar deal was signed with the Netherlands biggest mortgage banks, real estate surveyors and government, to take the project into the private sector too.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sumba powers up with renewables

Indonesian island hopes to spark green power revolution.

The Star – AFP, Angela Dewan, May 26, 2014

Catch the wind: Villagers erect a windmill on a field of small wind turbines
in Kamanggih, Sumba island, East Nusa Tenggara. — AFP

AN Indonesian family of farmers eat cobs of corn outside their hut under the glow of a light bulb, as the women weave and young men play with mobile phones.

Until two years ago, most people in Kamanggih village on the island of Sumba had no power at all. Now 300 homes have access to 24-hour electricity produced by a small hydroelectric generator in the river nearby.

“We have been using the river for water our whole lives, but we never knew it could give us electricity,” Adriana Lawa Djati said, as 1980s American pop songs drifted from a cassette player inside.

While Indonesia struggles to fuel its fast-growing economy, Sumba is harnessing power from the sun, wind, rivers and even pig dung in a bid to go 100% renewable by 2025.

The ambitious project, called the “Iconic Island“, was started by Dutch development organisation Hivos and is now part of the national government’s strategy to almost double renewables in its energy mix over the next 10 years.

Sumba, in central Indonesia, is an impoverished island of mostly subsistence farmers and fishermen. Access to power has made a huge difference to people like Djati.

“Since we started using electricity, so much has changed. The kids can study at night, I can weave baskets and mats for longer, and sell more at the market” she said.

While only around 30% of Sumba’s 650,000 people have been hooked up to the power grid, more than 50% of electricity used now on the island comes from renewable sources, government data show.

Hivos field co-ordinator Adrianus Lagur hoped the project would be replicated by other islands in the same province of East Nusa Tenggara, one of the country’s poorest.

Indonesia is one of the region’s most poorly electrified nation, partly because it sprawls over 17,000 islands of which more than 6,000 are inhabited.

Despite enjoying economic growth of around 6% annually in recent years, Indonesia is so short of energy that it rolls out scheduled power cuts that cripple entire cities and sometimes parts of the capital.

To keep up with growth, Indonesia is planning to boost its electricity capacity by 60 gigawatts over a 10-year period to 2022. Twenty percent of that is to come from renewable sources.

“Indonesia has been a net importer of oil for years, and our oil reserves are limited, so renewables are an important part of our energy security,” said Mochamad Sofyan, renewable energy chief of state electricity company PLN.

Hefty electricity and fuel subsidies have been a serious burden on the state budget.

But small-scale infrastructure, like mini hydroelectric generators and small wind turbines that power Sumba are not enough to close the national energy gap, even if they were built on all Indonesia’s islands.

Massive hydropower and geothermal projects, which use renewable energy extracted from underground pockets of heat, are needed to really tackle the nationwide problem, said Sofyan.

Indonesia, one of the world’s most seismically active countries, also has the biggest reserves of geothermal, often near its many volcanoes and tectonic plate boundaries. It is considered one of the cleanest forms of energy available.

But geothermal is largely untapped as legislation to open up exploration moves slowly and the industry is bound in red tape.

Sofyan said there is also concern that Sumba’s target to be powered 100% by renewable energy is unrealistic.

“In the long term, we see Sumba still relying somewhat on diesel generators. It will be powered predominantly by renewables, but I don’t think it will be able to switch off the grid,” Sofyan said.

Hivos admits its goal is ambitious, saying it is “inspirational and political” rather than technical but the NGO believes the target may be achievable even in the long term.

Nonetheless the Sumbanese are reaping the benefits of the green energy sources already available, which have lifted a considerable financial burden for many due to reduced costs for wood and oil.

Elisabeth Hadi Rendi, 60, in the town of Waingapu, has been farming pigs since 1975, but it was only two years ago when Hivos visited her home that she came to understand the power of porcine poo. Pigs are commonly kept in Sumba, a predominantly Christian island in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

Each day Rendi shovels dung from the pig pens and churns it in a well, after which it is funnelled to a tank and converted into methane gas. It has saved her household around six million rupiah (RM1,680) in two years, a significant sum for a typical Sumbanese family.

“We also make fertiliser from the waste to use in our garden, where we grow vegetables,” said Rendi. “We eat the vegetables and feed some to the pigs too, which will become biogas again, so the energy literally goes round and round.” — AFP



Friday, October 3, 2014

This Man Is Modi's Best Chance To Make India Sanitary

Business Insider –AFP, Abhaya Srivastava, Oct 2, 2014

Founder of Indian sanitation charity Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak (C)
demonstrates his low-cost two-pit toilet technology in New Delhi (AFP Sajjad Hussain)

New Delhi (AFP) - Surrounded by latrines and soap dispensers, sanitation charity founder Bindeshwar Pathak is most at home in the toilet, which he vows to build in every impoverished home in India.

Affectionately known as India's "toilet guru", 71-year-old Pathak has spent four decades working to improve sanitation in a country where half of the population relieve themselves in the open air.

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, a champion of cleanliness, Pathak has more recently been spurred on by new Prime Minister Narendra Modi who wants to make India free of open defecation by 2019.   

"India has the technology and the methodology. What we lack is infrastructure," Pathak said of Modi's vision, as he took AFP on a tour of cheap, eco-friendly toilets that his New Delhi-based charity has developed.

"We also need funds to the tune of $42.3 billion considering each toilet will cost about $320," he said, making quick calculations on a piece of paper.

"We can't claim to be the next superpower when we don't even have something as basic as a toilet for everyone," he said ahead of Thursday's national holiday to celebrate the birthday of India's independence hero Gandhi.

National hygiene drive

Modi is due to launch a national cleanliness drive on Thursday, after pledging in August to ensure all households have toilets in the next five years.

From top ministers to lowly officials, all are expected to turn up to work on Thursday to clean up their government buildings -- including their toilets -- many of which stink of stale urine and are littered with rubbish and spit.

"This mission ... aspires to realise Gandhi-ji's dream of a clean India," Modi said recently after pledging during the May election campaign to build "toilets first, temples later".

"Together we can make a big difference," the Hindu nationalist said.

UNICEF estimates that almost 594 million -- or nearly 50 percent of India's population -- defecate in the open, with the situation acute in dirt-poor rural areas.

Some 300 million women and girls are forced to squat outside normally under the cover of darkness, exposed not only to the risks of disease and bacterial infection, but also harassment and assault by men.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight in late May when two girls, aged 12 and 14, were allegedly attacked as they went into the fields to relieve themselves. Police are investigating if they were gang-raped before being lynched.  

Two-pit toilet technology

Pathak, the founder of sanitation charity Sulabh International, has already constructed 1.3 million toilets for households using his cheap, two-pit technology.

When one pit is filled, it is covered, and the other pit is used. Within two years, the waste in the covered pit dries up, ridding itself of pathogens and ready for use as fertiliser.

Such toilets use less than a gallon of water per flush compared to 2.6 gallons (10 litres) for conventional latrines and do not require attachment to underground sewer lines, which are nonexistent in most villages.

Pit toilets also eliminate the need for the degrading task of manually removing toilet waste by workers who are seen as the "ultimate untouchables" in caste-ridden India.

Pathak is determined to banish the need for such "manual scavengers", who often scoop out excrement with their hands into wicker baskets, a campaign also pushed by Gandhi before his death in 1948.   

Himself an upper-class Brahmin, Pathak recounted how he was made to consume cow dung and urine as part of a "purification ritual" after he touched a woman, who used to clean latrines, as a 10-year-old boy.

"This moment has stayed with me," he said.

Pathak's charity has also harnessed "bio-gas' produced from human waste which is used to generate electricity to power the charity's offices. The gas has also been bottled for use as fuel for cooking.

Despite his achievements, Pathak said his task is far from complete, and he was determined to change cultural and social attitudes against toilets. Many people in India consider toilets unhygienic and prefer to squat in the open, believing it is more sanitary to leave waste far from your home.

"Many people (also) find toilets stifling," said Pathak. "We tell them that you can keep the top of the toilet uncovered if you want to have a feel of defecating in the open."

Employees hang just-washed donated cotton clothes that will be used
 to make cloth sanitary napkins at non-profit organisation 'Goonj' 
(Echo) in New Delhi on April 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/Sajjad Hussain)

Related Article:


Friday, September 19, 2014

How lead paint is poisoning Asia's children

While the global use of lead has decreased, paint sold across Asia still contains excessive levels of the toxic substance. Meanwhile, awareness of the risks and health consequences from lead exposure remains inadequate.

Deutsche Welle, 18 Sep 2014


With the almost complete phase-out of leaded petrol worldwide, attention has turned to other sources of lead exposure and its deadly effect on humans. Statistics from a 2013 New York University report on the cost of lead exposure to the economies of developing countries reveal that consumption of the damaging element has increased since 1970, despite the fact that lead petrol has been almost entirely phased out.

One way that people who, despite having no connection to industries where they might be directly exposed to lead are still consuming huge amounts of it, is through paint.

Lead is used in paint because it makes it less susceptible to cracking and increases its opacity. It is also used to intensify colors, meaning the brighter the color of the paint the higher concentrations of lead it is likely to have. Lead is also used to speed up drying times and to stop rust.

But the danger doesn't start until years after the paint has dried and begins to wear. Dust from paint flakes or the sanding of painted surfaces creates lead-filled particles that can be inhaled, and collect in people's systems.

Dr Sara Brosché from IPEN, a global organization working to eliminate toxic substances around the world, says the reasons why lead is still being used in Asia are a lack of knowledge of the dangers and a reluctance to change, "because that is how they have always done it."

An expanding middle class means more
 people will be able to afford to paint their
homes
While globally the paint industry has contracted, the opposite has occurred in Asia which is now the biggest paint market in the world. Brosché says that while low income earners typically do not live in painted homes, "with rising incomes and an emerging middle class, the number of people who can afford painted interiors and exteriors in their homes and schools has been increasing dramatically."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), just 30 countries have completely phased out the use of lead in paints, and most other places have some sort of guidelines around the substance. The "Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint" run by the WHO and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) aims to raise that figure to 70 by next year.

Meanwhile figures from the European Union and IPEN's 2014 Asia Regional Paint Report show that while countries such as the Philippines have introduced regulations, overwhelmingly paints sold in Asia still contain excessive lead levels.

Worse still, Brosché says none of the paints found to contain lead in the research had any warnings on their labels.

Despite industry making up the majority of users of high lead products in Asia, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that industrial and residential living areas are growing geographically closer together. This has been highlighted in China, with a series of cases in recent years of mass lead poisonings, with the victims living nearby to factories.

Even cookware has been shown to contain lead. Published in August of this year a study by Ashland University in the United States revealed the excessive amounts of lead that can leach out of metal used for cooking when it is heated up. Across Africa and Asia cookware and utensils made of scrap metal are commonplace, and can include parts from cars and materials used in construction.

The report's authors refer to the high numbers of people exposed to lead as a "global lead poisoning epidemic," and stress that cookware is just one of a number of factors contributing to lead exposure.

Lead's burden

Even limited contact with lead, at levels earlier regarded safe by the WHO and without any external symptoms, can cause irreversible health consequences. These can include kidney damage, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Pregnant women with a build up of lead in their systems can pass on toxic side effects to their unborn children.

However, it is young children who are most at risk. A report from the New York-based environmental research organization the Blacksmith Institute showed that many children who were exposed to lead during their childhoods grew up to have lower IQs, and that this and other damage to the brain "is permanent and irreversible and that there is no current form of medical treatment that can reverse the brain injury caused by lead once this injury has occurred."

High levels of lead exposure can cause comas, convulsions and even death, with children who survive these conditions likely left with permanent physical and mental injury.

The WHO attributes around 600,000 new cases of intellectual disabilities in children to lead exposure every year.

In a study published in 2013 by New York University, the total cost to Asia's economy was calculated at around 700 billion USD, compared to 134.7 billion USD in Africa and 142.3 billion USD in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report's authors say East and Southeast Asia make up the bulk of this shortfall, and the "burden of lead-associated disability and economic cost is now borne by developing countries."

The cheapest public health intervention

While regulations around lead were introduced in most parts of the world in the 1970s and 80s, a 2012 UNEP and IPEN survey showed large parts of Asia continued to ignore or under-regulate the issue.

The 2014 report on the Asia lead paint elimination project states that "a few countries in Asia do regulate the allowed lead content in decorative paints," including Singapore and Sri Lanka. Other places have voluntary standards, such as Thailand whose regulation calls for paints to include less than 100 parts per million (ppm) of lead. But tests conducted by the Ecology Alert and Recovery Thailand Foundation showed that despite the alleged checks, most paints still contained levels higher than this.

Other experts say the problem is the developing world is always playing catch-up, and the infrastructure needed to test and properly regulate the use of lead across the country just doesn't exist.

Many developing countries don't have
 the infrastructure to test and regulate
the use of lead
Low public awareness is another factor stopping manufacturers from switching from lead to less dangerous additives. Johnson Ongking, vice-president of one of Indonesia's largest paint companies, Boysen Paints, agrees with this, admitting they simply didn't realize the danger. "Honestly, we just weren't that aware of the hazards of lead in paint." Since 2007 the company has phased out lead completely from its range.

Jack Weinberg, Senior Policy Advisor with IPEN is more blunt. He says there is one reason the issue hasn't yet been solved: laziness.
He dismisses the argument that using lead saves money on production costs for manufacturers, saying the savings are marginal at best.

Research from IPEN's Regional Paint Report supports this view, calling the costs involved in reformulating paints to avoid adding lead "minimal." Their research showed the majority of suppliers that had eliminated the deadly element hadn't raised the price of their paints.

Weinberg says intervention now will save costs in the long run. "Eliminating lead paint is about the cheapest public health intervention with the greatest public health benefit imaginable."

Dr Leonardo Trasande has a similiar view. The expert says that in order to avoid future complications arising from childhood lead exposure - such as continuing medical care - action must be taken now. "The only way to avoid the large economic costs related to lead exposure is primary prevention," he says.

According to IPEN the best way to get rid of lead in paint once and for all is through binding legal requirements, company-mandated action and national certification schemes in each country. Brosché is also confident. "It is absolutely possible to eliminate dangerous levels of lead in paint," she says.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Structural tests ordered after fatal Lagos building collapse

Yahoo – AFP, Chris Stein, 17 Sep 2014

A caterpillar tries to excavate rubble of the collapsed building in search of missing
 persons at the Ikotun headquarters of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos
on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Lagos (AFP) - Engineers in Nigeria's financial capital, Lagos, on Wednesday ordered urgent structural tests to be carried out at a popular preacher's church after 70 people were killed in a building collapse.

The Lagos State Building Control Agency daubed red X-marks on buildings in the sprawling compound of televangelist TB Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the city's Ikotun area.

Rescue workers clear the debris of a 
collapsed guesthouse of the Synagogue 
Church of All Nations at Ikotun in Lagos 
on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius
Utomi Ekpei)
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said 67 of his compatriots were killed when a guesthouse for Joshua's foreign followers collapsed at the site last Friday.

But rescuers said the death toll had since risen, as a hunt for survivors neared a close.

"We have to ask for the tests because of what has happened," LASBCA general manager Abimbola Animashaun told AFP at the scene, pointing to one building which had an extra three storeys added.

"This one has been overloaded," she said. "If a disaster can happen here, we don't want it to happen elsewhere."

The structural integrity inspections should take 10 days to complete before a report is submitted, she added.

According to Joshua's website, scoan.org, three of the church's previous buildings were destroyed before the new church -- described as an "architectural masterpiece" -- was built.

"There was only one architect involved in the planning -- the Holy Spirit," he said.

The preacher, known to his followers as "The Prophet" because of his purported visions and miracles, has not publicly commented on the deaths.

Instead he has tried to shift suspicion on to Boko Haram militants and a low-flying plane seen over the building before the collapse.

Since Friday, he has only posted a series of Bible verses on his Facebook page and Twitter account. On Tuesday night he tweeted: "Hard times may test me, they cannot destroy me."

Nigerian red cross workers gather at the scene of the collapsed church guesthouse
 of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the Ikotun neighborhood in Lagos
on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

The investigation will look at Joshua's claim of low-flying aircraft, Lagos state commissioner for town planning and urban development Toyin Ayinde told Nigeria's Channels television.

Initial indications were that the building came down because extra floors were being added without strengthening the foundations and samples would be taken from the site, he added.

Rescue effort

Rescue workers were meanwhile picking through what remained of the guesthouse using excavators and even their bare hands in the hope of finding more survivors.

The southwest coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, said the rescue operation was likely to end later on Wednesday.

"We have 70 dead, 131 rescued alive," he said. "Early this morning, we got two (bodies). Since day break we got three. Yesterday night we had two, making seven."

A woman was pulled alive from the building on Monday and escaped with minor injuries, fuelling hopes that others may yet be found alive.

"The challenges are coming much more, so we have to slow down our recovery," said Farinloye. "If we say we should rush or give time limits, definitely it would affect somebody or survivors."

Headquarters of the Synagogue Church of
 All Nations in the Ikotun neighborhood in 
Lagos on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Pius Utomi Ekpei)
There was a large police presence at the church and onlookers were moved away. A team from a Chinese engineering firm were seen on site helping rescuers.

The Lagos state government, NEMA and the South African authorities have all complained that Joshua, whose followers include top-level politicians and presidents, was not co-operating.

Rescuers were prevented from fully accessing the site until Sunday, raising fears that some of the victims could have been saved earlier.

Nigerians took to social media to voice their anger at the incident, arguing that Joshua should not be above the law.

Zuma said five South African church tour groups totalling about 300 people were thought to have been at the Pentecostal church at the time of the tragedy.

One South African travel agent, who asked not to be named, said some of the survivors flew back from Lagos on Sunday but were too distraught to recount their ordeal.

"It's a sensitive issue. They don't want to talk to anyone about what they saw. They are in shock, they are traumatised," he said.

Urine: a new renewable energy source?

The search for renewable energy has made use of the sun, the sea - and now potentially our wee. Researchers in England have been using urine to create small electrical charges, which could be scaled up to a fuel source.

Deutsche Welle, 17 Sep 2014


At the "wet lab" in the Bristol Robotics laboratory in southwest England, there's a not-so-pleasant smell. It's "similar to the smell of a toilet, of the gents," explained scientist Ioannis Ieropoulos.

Scientists have known for some time that microbes can generate electricity. When microbes break down organic material such as food waste or grass clippings, electrons and protons are freed, which can work to push electronic current around a circuit like a battery.

Ieropoulos had been studying this process for more than a decade to see if it could be used to power robots - but it was only recently that he realized the power of urine.

For eight or nine years, Ieropoulos said, the researchers at the Bristol lab "tried grass clippings - we tried prawn shells, we tried dead insects, we tried rotten fruit, we tried waste water."

The "eureka moment," Ieropoulos said, was when they tried urine. "We'd never before reached that level of power output."

Small system already developed

In fuel cells, chemicals are converted to
electricity - the one pictured here uses
hydrogen and oxygen
Ieropoulos found that by adding fresh urine to his microbes, he could increase the power output three fold.

The doctor created a simple system: a urinal that is linked up via a microbial fuel cell to a USB port, which generates enough electricity to charge small electronic devices like mobile phones.

The invention impressed the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation so much that it gave the lab a grant to improve the technology and get it working in the real world.

Ieropoulos said that they're aiming for large-scale implementation. But he added that their larger goal is to do "something for society."

Systems could be implemented, for example, to help tackle health and sanitation issues, and "deliver useful electricity to remote communities that are not connected to the grid," Ieropoulos said.

Improving sanitation, helping the environment

The Gates Foundation grant enabled Ioannis to travel to Delhi to showcase his invention, which he's named "Urinetricity."

Sarina Prabasi, CEO of Water Aid America, said that Urinetricity could play a vital role in improving sanitation in developing areas. Prabasi thinks that it could provide the incentive communities need to deal with their waste, which is often lacking.

"If there's something where people can turn this in to a business, then the incentive will be there," Prabasi said.

It's hoped that large-scale application
of "Urinetricity" can help grow crops
Combining the fuel cells with water purification technology could also make a difference provide environmental benefits. John Greenman, a professor at the University of the West of England in Bristol, is working with microbes that produce clean water and fertilizer, which can help grow crops.

This could, for example, be combined with Ioannis' system to create a "super toilet."

Unprocessed urine cannot be applied directly to cropland. But microbes separate the organic material out of the waste, Greenman explained. "The fluid that comes off at the other end is a lot cleaner, and can be put out into nature," he said.

"And the electricity generated could be used to run water treatment plants - so you get benefits in both ways," Greenman stated. In a green factory, for example, such a system could break down waste while producing electricity.

Overcoming the taboo

Ieropoulos acknowledged that one of the hurdles for his project is the discomfort some people might have around the source of the new electricity.

"There are taboos, cultural and religious issues that prevent people from talking about the topic of human waste and how that can be exploited or utilized," Ieropoulos said.

Although many people might struggle to keep a straight face about the topic, the benefits to for people and the environment will hopefully outweigh squeamishness around using urine for electricity.

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