Another polluted day in Metro Manila
SPYBITS - Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - May 7, 2013 - 12:00am

A foreign businessman who was arriving in his private jet took a photo of the smog enveloping Metro Manila two days ago – proving that the bad air quality continues to pose health risks especially for kids, seniors and people with lung-related ailments. The hot and humid weather condition is making the greenhouse effect even worse, exacerbated by traffic jams that result in more carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles getting stuck on streets. 

Sources at the Climate Change Commission confirm that diesel powered vehicles account for more than 70 percent of the black carbon (soot) emissions in the entire country particularly in urban areas, with more than 22,000 metric tons of soot emitted every year by vehicles powered by fossil fuels. A study (conducted over a period of four years) recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research disclosed that diesel engine emissions or soot is the second biggest contributor to climate change, and that these tiny particles accelerate global warming because they absorb heat in the atmosphere, hasten the melting of glaciers and contribute to the disruption of normal weather patterns. 

In China, millions are dying prematurely due to carbon emissions – which is not really surprising considering that in 2012 alone, over 13 million cars were sold, exacerbating pollution levels in major cities like Beijing. Although coal power plants are still the biggest source of pollution, the particulate matter from cars, known as PM2.5, are more lethal because they are small enough to enter deeply into the lungs. Early this year, China experienced the worst surge of pollution in many cities, causing zero visibility in the streets and forcing flights to be cancelled.

Unfortunately, the pollution from China is being blown across many parts of Asia including the Philippines and even the United States – causing some pundits to remark that the Chinese are so bent on becoming Number One, they even want to be known as the top source of air pollution in the world.

MVP’s new car

Meralco’s senior vice president for Customer Retail and Corporate Marketing Communications Al Panlilio said the company is planning to give an electric car to Meralco chairman Manny Pangilinan for his birthday in July. Al is looking at the Tesla Model S – a hyperfast vehicle that runs on lithium ion batteries and was adjudged the 2013 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine. The high-end electric sedan from Tesla Motors is the acknowledged front runner in the “green car” industry, out-speeding the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf with first quarter sales reaching over 4,750 units. Aside from being environment friendly, the interest in green cars especially in the United States and Europe is fueled by the rising cost of gasoline.

Meralco is setting the tone for the wave of the future with plans to build power charging stations and eventually go into the manufacture of electric vehicles. This project should make environment groups happy since they can help improve the air quality in many urban areas like Metro Manila, where the volume of vehicles plying the gridlocked streets are being blamed for the worsening pollution levels.

Al disclosed that they are definitely going into “green technology” full-blast and are hoping the government will support the initiative. After all, Meralco’s plan to develop charging stations was in response to President Noy’s call for people to help reduce air pollution an at the same time, lessen our dependence on imported gasoline. Loren Legarda, the country’s number one environment advocate, said she’s all for green cars and will definitely support and encourage incentives for those who will be investing in this kind of project.

Iron Dome

The escalating tension in Syria has prompted the deployment of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system to Haifa and Safed. Also known as the “Iron Cap,” the mobile air defense system can intercept and destroy short-range rockets, and was in fact largely credited for the lack of casualties on the part of Israel during the Gaza conflict in 2012, intercepting at least 85 percent of the 1,500 rockets launched during that time. The US has vowed to allocate an additional $220 million funding for Iron Dome in 2014, with an additional $176 million in 2015 for the development of the anti-missile defense system

According to sources, the US wants its own version of Iron Dome as part of its missile defense, with some senators saying major cities should be equipped with the same defense system since they see it as the “ideal platform” to defend America from short-range missile threats – perhaps thinking Iron Dome can do the job better than Iron Man.




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