3 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT AIR QUALITY MONITORING

This article looks into my recent experimentation with portable air quality monitoring.

Monitor

The theme for World Environment Day 2019 was air pollution, so I decided to get involved by buying a portable air quality monitor and taking some measurements to see what I could find. Here are 3 things that  learned about air quality motioning this week.

1.  Calibration is key

I rarely read the instructions when I buy a new product. I am normally too excited and rush into using it straight away. This is one occasion when reading the instructions is strongly advised.

For the Temtop M2000C monitor that I bought PM is read straight away, with no warm up period.

For CO2 readings there is a 3-minute warm up period. Do not make the mistake I did of rushing to take readings without also performing the 30 minute calibration. My initial impression, is without this calibration period, you will get CO2 readings of roughly double what they actually are.

2. You need multiple readings

You also need multiple readings. One reading at one snapshot in time will only be able to tell you so much.

Even a short experiment that I conducted today along the metropolitan line showed that some of the readings that I was collecting were higher than the otherwise stated air pollution risk of low for London.

So multiple readings over multiple locations over long periods of time are needed to get a full picture of what is actually going on.

3. You can’t manage what you don’t measure

It’s an old management adage that still holds true today. But accurate measurement of air quality in urban areas is key to developing strategies that will solve this problem.

It is reported that there are 100 air quality monitoring stations in London which if you take London’s population to be 8 million, means that there is 1 station for every 80,000 people. To me this doesn’t sound like there is enough and that much more granular data is needed, that is fed back in real time so that people can act upon it.

What you need to know

This article looked into air quality monitoring and my first experience of it this week.

If you are not satisfied with the level of reporting out there, I would definitely recommend buying your own monitor.

Ultimately monitoring is only one side of the coin, but having accurate data to base decisions on is crucial.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done about air quality monitoring?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THAT WHICH YOU DO NOT HATE YOU WILL EVENTUALLY TOLERATE

This article looks into 3 environmental problems and asks the question; do we hate these environmental problems enough? Or is there an underlying tolerance that is allowing them to persist?

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We talked a lot about solutions for the last 20 weeks as part of my series looking into the top methods identified in Project Drawdown. The other side of the coin to solutions is problems. Without problems, solutions wouldn’t be necessary.

I came across the quotation in the title recently and I was really struck by it. It is often attributed to Malcom X, however, after a few online searches I couldn’t find much evidence that he had actually said it. Regardless, it is a powerful quotation and it is highly relevant to the debate around human impacts on the environment.

Let’s look into 3 key environmental problems from 3 different ecosystems to see what we can find.

Air

Air pollution is the silent killer that has crept from a position of obscurity to one of the most pressing environmental problems worldwide.

One look at the recent research coming out of the WHO confirms this.

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There are simply shocking statistics showing that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.

This results in an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.

The amazing thing is, that despite being faced with what is clearly an existential problem, whilst there are some solutions beginning to come online, they are not adequate enough to fully solve this problem.

Land

The tropical rainforests are one of the most outstanding ecosystems on earth. Despite this, they are under threat and have been for some time.

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Research shows that tropical rainforests lose an estimated 93,000 square miles each year due to deforestation. This is a complex issue with many underlying economic drivers.

This is a fairly well publicised environmental problem that I would have expected most people to have heard of.

Yet the problem persists. Perhaps we do not hate the destruction that is taking place enough. We have allowed ourselves to slip into a form of tolerance, where problems such as this are allowed to persist.

Sea

The Australian Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system and the biggest living structure on the planet.

coral

Despite its incredible economic and environmental benefits that it has brought to the country, it has been allowed to be damaged, with some estimates putting the figure as high as 50%.

Admittedly, much of this damage has been caused by bleaching which is itself caused by climate change. This is obviously a problem that Australia alone cannot solve but you might have expected such extensive damage to a national treasure to lead to a climate renaissance in Australia. Sadly, this has not been the case.

It appears as if a subtle, underlying tolerance of this environmental problem has been allowed to develop.

What you need to know

This article looked at 3 environmental problems and asked whether we hate these environmental problems enough?

We looked at air pollution, which has become a silent killer in cities worldwide.

We looked at tropical deforestation, which persists despite warnings for decades.

We looked at coral bleaching and the damages to the Great Barrier Reef.

All of these are well publicised examples of environmental destruction. If enough people hated them, they would have been stopped by now. There is clearly an underlying tolerance that is allowing them to persist.

It is up to everyone to make sure that the future is not like the past and that these problems are solved as quickly as possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to solve these big environmental problems?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

 

7 THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT INDIA AFTER VISITING FOR THE FIRST TIME

This article is based on a recent 3 week trip that I took to India. This was my first time visiting the country and this is what I learnt.

Taj Mahal

1.     Noise

I had seen before leaving on a number of travel websites that it is recommended to take ear plugs to India if you are traveling there as a visitor. As this is something that I normally use at home, this was something I brought with me, but I was interested to see why it was so recommended.

My experience of noise in India came in three different types.

The first was the incredible noises I heard whilst in Goa. This came in the form of the amazing noise that was created by the wind as it came in from the ocean, through the palm trees and up and around my beachside accommodation. This was truly an incredible sound to wake up to.

The next set of remarkable noises I experienced would be in New Delhi. This is probably the type of situation that the travel writers were recommending ear plugs for. It was loud, very loud. The principal noises that would keep you up at night include the sound of vendors disassembling their stalls and then reassembling them in the morning. Surely there must be a way to keep them up the entire time? The other major noises that I experienced were the sound of vehicle horns, which persist throughout the night and the chorus of stray dogs barking which can be very loud at times. We will see more on this shortly.

The last remarkable noises that I experienced were whilst camping in Alsisar. This included the incredible sound of silence that you would hear between 07:30 and 09:00 after the music had stopped and before most of the festival goers had awoken. The moments of silence were breath taking. The other major noise was what I believed to be the sound of cows but was in fact a nomadic goat herder passing by with his ensemble of adorable but very loud goats.

Overall the noises you experience in India are incredible, I have mentioned but a few in my description here.

2.   Stray animals

The stray animals, principally the large number of roaming cows was something that I knew about but that I was not fully prepared for when I saw it with my own eyes.

I hope my list is complete, but in total I remember seeing stray cats, dogs, cows, pigs, camels, donkeys and chickens. These are animals which in most other countries are highly domesticated and not seen outside of agricultural or domestic settings.

Overall, you have to visit to see with your own eyes, as nothing can prepare you for the sight of numerous cows walking along extremely busy streets and highways in a major metropolitan area. The sight is truly incredible.

3.   Toilets

The toilet situation was something that I read a lot about before visiting and not much of it was good. That being said, I thought all of the facilities that I came across were of a decent enough standard, taking into account that India is a developing country.

The main issue that I encountered on a far more frequent basis was the hand washing, or rather lack of hand washing facilities. I found these to be on the whole largely inadequate and more often than not lacking soap or a place to dry your hands afterwards. This is especially problematic in India, as it is a country with a lot of cuisine that you eat with your hands. Overall, this is only a minor problem; just remember to pack hand gel and to bring it out with you.

4.   Friendliness

This was probably the the thing that most blew me away. The incredible friendliness of the Indian people knows no bounds. I am not just talking about the friendliness of people who are providing a service to you, or hoping to provide you a product or service.

The standard of English among the general population is phenomenal. Just walking along a street or waiting at at train station people will talk to you and ask you questions. I have to say in the whole time I was in India I never felt under threat or like I was under duress to comply with anyone’s demands.

Overall, the friendliness of the people you will encounter whilst in India is truly remarkable. Just remember that when you are talking to people on the street that some of these people have a product or service that they are trying to nudge you towards, so speak to them and have a good time, just don’t comply with any of their demands. That being said, the majority of the people you encounter who are friendly are sincerely interested in who you are and where you are from and what you make of India as you pass through their country.

5.    Food

I like to eat a lot of Indian food when I am at home, so the food was a big aspect of why I decided to visit India. I was expecting the standard of cuisine to be very high and for me it was even higher than that.

Paranthra

The main treat that I picked up that I had not experienced before was the delicacy of enjoying an aloo paratha in the morning for breakfast. Pictured above is one of my morning aloo paratha’s which I would regularly wash down with a delicious cup of chai.

The tea in India is also of an incredibly high standard and I would encourage anyone who travels to India to try a few cups from restaurants and also to buy a cup from the walking vendors known locally as chai wallahs. One of the cups that I bought from a vendor in New Delhi is without question the nicest cup of tea I have ever drunk.

The main curry dish that I sampled that I had not enjoyed before was the vegetable kolhapuri. This is a fantastic dish that has all of the key elements that make up a great curry. The spices and the aroma are hot and fragrant, whilst the sauce is thick and delicious making for an all-round great curry.

It is impossible to talk about food in India without talking about the prevalence of vegetarian lifestyles in this country. As a lifelong vegetarian, the UK and Europe can feel like a lonely place for this choice of lifestyle. India is the only country I have ever been to where the vegetarian menu in restaurants is almost always as big and is often larger than the number of meat options. This is truly a country where being vegetarian is totally mainstream.

Overall, if you like great food, you should visit India. If you like vegetarian food, you must visit this country.

6.     Work ethic

I had a pretty good idea that like most developing countries, people in India probably work a lot harder for less money than people in developed countries. But I was not prepared for what I came across. The owner of the first accommodation I stayed in seemed to be awake and working whether you arrived at 06:00 am or if you were getting back in from a night out after midnight. He was seemingly doing these hours 6 days per week and would also pop in on Sunday. I also heard anecdotal evidence from waiters that I spoke to that their day would start at 05:00, they would have a two hour lunch from 11:00 and that their day would start to wind down at 23:00 but that it could be later if they were needed. These are simply phenomenal hours that people are putting in. The work ethic is simply incredible.

That being said, in and amongst the hard working and intrepid workers, you do see instances of laziness, sending two people to do a job that one person could do and sloppy workmanship. But the overall trend is towards a country where the vast majority of people work extremely hard.

7.   Incredible potential

One of the main things that I realised about India after visiting for the first time was the incredible potential of this nation. If you have so many hard working, intelligent people who speak great English in one place, that is a recipe for becoming a successful nation. The country was probably poorer that I expected it to be and there are some instances of poverty particularly that which afflicts children that nothing can prepare you for. But I would say overall, the country is full of people who care deeply about ensuring that these problems don’t go unsolved. India is an incredible nation with tremendous potential and could one day be the richest and most powerful nation on earth.

What you need to know

This was an article based around 7 things I learnt after visiting India for the first time in December 2017. India may be a very loud country, with stray animals and questionable toilet facilities. But it is also a country with a friendly population, incredible food, an unbelievable work ethic and tremendous potential. Overall, I would highly encourage anyone to visit this great nation.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Have you visited India, if you did, what did you learn on your first visit?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby