Climate change will fan future wildfires
Wildfires will get worse with climate change, not only endangering those near the blazes, but also threatening the health of millions of Americans from wildfire smoke that can drift hundreds of miles, according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
As a result, communities must protect themselves from the health risks arising from exposure to wildfire smoke—including asthma attacks, pneumonia, and more serious chronic lung diseases. And the report, titled “Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke,” suggests the country take action to curb the threat of climate change.
“There’s trouble in the wind: What blazes in Texas rarely stays in Texas. Wildfire smoke can pose serious health risks to people hundreds of miles away from the sources of fires,” said Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist in NRDC’s Health and Environment Program, who directed the analysis. “Wildfire smoke already clouds the skies of millions of Americans and because climate change will fuel more wildfires, that danger will rise.
“Communities need safeguards against this smoky peril, and our country needs standards to curb the unlimited carbon pollution from power plants that’s driving climate change.”
The study, based on smoke data from the 2011 wildfire season, one of the worst in recent decades, found that the area affected by smoke is 50 times greater than the area burned by fire. About two-thirds of Americans – nearly 212 million people – lived in counties affected by smoke conditions in 2011. Many states had large wildfires that year, but the study found that among the top 20 most affected states, six with no major fires nonetheless had to cope with more than a week of medium- to high-density smoke conditions during the year.
The states with the greatest numbers of residents affected by wildfire smoke conditions for a week or longer in 2011, according to the report, were Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa.
The report found that in 2011:
* Texas ranked 1st nationally because more than 25 million people lived in areas with wildfire smoke conditions for one week or more.
* Illinois ranked 2nd with 11.9 million residents in affected areas.
* Florida ranked 3rd with 11.2 million residents in affected areas.
* Missouri ranked 4th with 5.9 million residents in affected areas.
* Georgia ranked 5th, with 5.7 million residents in affected areas.
* Louisiana ranked 6th, with 4.5 million residents in affected areas.
* Michigan ranked 7th, with 3.93 million residents in affected areas.
* Alabama ranked 8th, with 3.92 million residents in affected areas.
* Oklahoma ranked 9th, with 3.7 million residents in affected areas.
* Iowa ranked 10th, with three million residents in affected areas.
Other states where large numbers of people lived in areas with smoky conditions include, ranked in order, are Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Tennessee, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Indiana, South Carolina and Minnesota. Altogether, more than one-third of the states experienced medium-to-high density smoke conditions for a week or longer, the report shows.
“The clear takeaway is that wildfires, smoke and the conditions that increase fire risk are national health concerns that spread well beyond the borders of local fire perimeters, conditions that are only projected to worsen with climate change,” the report says. NRDC used smoke data from federal weather satellites and also looked at the locations of Environmental Protection Agency ground-based air quality monitoring stations.
Climate change is fueling droughts that are projected to intensify in the future in across much of the United States as a result of less rainfall and more evaporation, turning wild-land vegetation tinder-dry. It also is projected to fuel more frequent, longer lasting extreme heat and lengthen warm-weather seasons, reducing moisture and setting the stage for fire risks, the report says.
NRDC’s report was recently released during a national telephone press conference led by Knowlton and Dr. Patrick L. Kinney, professor, Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and director, Columbia Climate and Health Program.
The report shows steps some states are taking to protect their communities and suggests actions individuals can take if they know they are in a high-smoke period.
“Families can lessen the health risks from smoke by staying indoors or limiting outside physical activity,” Knowlton said. “You can keep smoke levels low inside the house by closing the windows and running the air conditioner on ‘recirculate.’
“We also need better monitoring and early-warning systems for growing health threats, so people will know when the air is unhealthy for vulnerable groups. That’s part of making climate change preparedness a national priority. With fire, smoke and other air pollution threats increasingly affected by climate change, all states should be putting health protections in their climate adaptation plans.
“Finally, we must engage in prevention,” said Knowlton. “Climate change threatens the health of every American. We have an obligation to them and future generations we cannot shy from. The president has outlined a plan that rightly takes aim at the heart of the problem, and it deserves our support.”
Read “Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke” issue brief here: nrdc.org/health/impacts-of-wildfire-smoke/
UK Nissan fleet owners receive commercial charging service
UK fleet owners of Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 models can avail of a new commercial charging service using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
The V2G technology developed by DREEV, which is a joint venture between EDF and Nuvve, which specialises in V2G technology, allows for two-way energy flow; both recharging an EV’s battery when electricity is at its cheapest, and discharging excess energy to sell back into the grid.
Fleet customers will save around £350 savings per charger each year, which equates to approximately 9,000 miles of driving charge per year.
EDF’s V2G business solution includes:
The supply and installation of a two-way connected compact 11kW charger capable of fully charging a Nissan LEAF, depending on the battery model, in 3 hours and 30 minutes - 50 per cent faster than a standard charger - with integrated DREEV technology.
A dedicated DREEV smart phone app, to define the vehicles’ driving energy requirements, track their state of charge in real time, and control charging at any time
Philip Valarino, Interim Head of EV Projects at EDF, said today’s announcement marks an important step on the UK’s journey towards electric mobility. "By combining the expertise and capabilities of EDF, Nissan and Dreev we have produced a solution that could transform the EV market as we look to help the UK in its journey to achieve Net Zero," he said. “Our hope is that forward-thinking businesses across the country will be persuaded to convert their traditional fleets to electric, providing them with both an environmental and economic advantage in an increasingly crowded market.”
Andrew Humberstone, Managing Director, NMGB, said Nissan has been a pioneer in 100% electric mobility since 2010, and the integration of electric vehicles into the company is at the heart of Nissan's vision for intelligent mobility.
He added the Nissan LEAF, with more than half a million units already sold worldwide - is the only model today to allow V2G two-way charging and offers economic opportunities for businesses "that no other electric vehicle does today". Click here for more information.
FirstEnergy Corp, which aims to electrify 30% of its approximately 3,400 light duty and aerial fleet vehicles by 2030, has joined the Electric Highway Coalition. The group of electric companies, which has grown to 14 members, is committed to enabling long-distance EV travel through a network of EV fast-charging stations connecting major highway systems.
The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on US roads by 2030. While many drivers recognize the benefits of driving an EV, some are concerned with the availability of charging stations during long road trips. Through their unified efforts, the members of the EHC are addressing this "range anxiety" and demonstrating to customers that EVs are a smart choice for traveling long distances as well as driving around town.
Volta Industries has installed new charging stations at Safeway in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and Renton, Washington.