June 11th US Global Change Research Program Seminar: "Development of Asian Mega-Cities: Environmental, Economic, Social, and Health Implications"

Tony Socci tsocci at usgcrp.gov
Fri Jun 5 16:04:45 EDT 1998

                  U.S. Global Change Research Program Seminar Series

   Development of Asian Mega-Cities: Environmental, Economic, Social, and
                                     Health Implications

What are the current and projected trends in Asian mega-cities with respect
to greenhouse gas emissions, ground-level ozone pollution, energy use,
sulfur dioxide aerosols, and population in the next 20, 50, and 100 years?
Should air pollution and climate change be treated as separate issues?  How
much of a risk does air pollution currently pose to human health in Asia?
What are the prospects for the future?  Are there an array of
cost-effective options available to simultaneously address the issues of
human-induced climate change and air pollution?

                                                          Public Invited

                                       Thursday, June 11, 1998, 3:15-4:45 PM
           NEW LOCATION - Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Room 628, Washington, DC
                                                      Reception Following


Dr. Jack A. Kaye, Manager, Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis
Program, Office of Earth Science, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, Washington, DC


Dr. Gregory R. Carmichael, Department of Chemical and Biochemical
Engineering, and Co-Director of the Center for Global & Regional
Environmental Research, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, Recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry,
and the Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth System
Science, University of California, Irvine, CA


Asia and, in particular, Asian mega-cities, are some of the most dynamic
and diverse regions of the world. As the poorer regions strive to catch up
to the more developed ones, the environment is often caught in the middle,
and in some cases given cursory attention. Awareness is mounting of the
need for cooperation at local, regional, and international levels in
addressing many of Asia's environmental problems, because Asian development
will have profound impacts on the environment, in Asia and well beyond.

Fueled by high population growth and vibrant economies, energy consumption
in Asia  currently represents ~20% of the world total, and it is estimated
that its share will grow to 30% by 2015.  Because fossil fuels will provide
much of this energy, emissions of greenhouse gases  and air pollutants such
as sulfur and nitrogen oxides and particulates are projected to
dramatically increase.  During 1990-1996,  total energy-related carbon
emissions in East Asia grew at an average rate of 4.5% per year compared to
the world average of 0.6% per year. Over the last two decades, China's SO2
(sulfur dioxide) emissions have grown by more than a factor of three, and
this trend is expected to continue, with Asia-wide emissions projected to
increase by another factor of two to three between now and 2020.

                               Asian Development and the Environment

The impacts of Asia's growth in emissions will have wide-ranging
consequences. Acid precipitation is an illustrative example. China's
National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) recently released a report
indicating that economic losses due to acid rain damage to forests and
farmland are now estimated at $13.25 billion annually, five times higher
than initially assessed in 1996.  The long range transport and fate of
pollutants away from Asia is an area of increasing scientific interest and
political concern because countries are receiving increasing amounts of
pollutants from neighboring and even distant countries. The recent episodes
of severe smoke and haze throughout Southeast Asia underscore this point.

Another key dynamic in Asia is the urban environment.  As subsistence
workers migrate from rural areas to the cities in search of relief, urban
populations are growing faster than the national averages.  Asia presently
has ~1 billion urban dwellers, and this number is expected to rise to
nearly 3 billion in 2025.  The ten Mega Cities (populations greater than 10
million) will then account for ~40% of their country's GNP (gross national
product). Though reliable monitoring and health effects data are lacking in
many cases, indications are that damage to human health and well-being from
poor air quality (both in and out of doors) is extensive. Without strong
intervention the situation will inevitably worsen.

The emissions of chlorofluorocarbons and carbon dioxide contribute to well
known global atmospheric problems.  However, when local pollution problems
are numerous enough, they can grow to create global problems.  The increase
in tropospheric ozone (low- or ground-level ozone) concentrations provides
a particularly clear example of this globalization of pollution.  The basic
ingredients in the formation of ozone in the urban atmosphere are now
well-established: partially-burned hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and
sunlight.  The motorization of urban environments all around the world has
produced local smog, including ground-level ozone, in hundreds of cities.
Ozone formation continues in the urban plumes extending downwind from the
cities in which emissions occur, until the components are diluted below
critical concentration levels.  However, when the dilution has not been
completed by the time the plume enters the next city, the pollution is
converted from a local problem into a regional problem. The growth in
emissions in eastern Asia, in particular, has now advanced so that the
regional problems are coalescing further into zonal problems affecting all
locations within a particular latitude zone, e.g., between 25 degrees N and
50 degrees N latitudes. A similar zonal problem exists in the southern
hemisphere, driven largely by the extensive burning there of forests and
agricultural wastes.

While projections based on current growth and present environmental
protection and practices paint a very pessimistic picture, the growth in
emissions in Asia will most certainly not follow these projections. There
has already been a (temporary) downturn in several of the "Tiger" economies
(with the result that growth in regional carbon emissions may slow to 2% in
1998) and countries such as China are introducing experimental emission
control systems and are beginning to establish regulations to more
aggressively curb emissions of some pollutants. There are also ways to
decouple energy growth from economic and population growth. Economic growth
will not be equal across economic sectors, and the energy-intensive
industrial sector is projected to grow less rapidly than the service
sector, which has lighter energy demands. Growth in the transportation
sector in Asia is very rapid, and, as a result,  photochemical smog
problems in Asian cities are on the rise.  Without intervention the
contribution of motor vehicles to energy use and emissions will rise

Energy efficiency improvements are also important.  In Asia, it is
estimated that energy efficiency has the potential to reduce the growth in
energy use and emissions in 2020 by 30%; even with these improvements in
energy efficiency emissions will still double by the year 2020.  Efficient,
low-polluting technologies for the combustion of fossil fuels and for the
treatment of effluent gases offer a substantial opportunity over the next
20 to 30 years to help meet the expanding energy needs and to help limit
the environmental damage. The use of advanced control technologies, for
example, could reduce the emissions of SO-2 below current levels, albeit at
high cost (~$90 billion annually).

The pressing environmental problems of urban pollution and climate change
in Asia are closely linked problems sharing common causes and solutions.
The fact that air pollution problems and greenhouse gas emissions arise
largely from fossil fuel combustion and the important role of aerosols in
both air pollution and climate change are illustrative examples. In Asia,
it will be particularly important to develop energy/emissions policies
which recognize the need for near-term benefits and that choices made in
changing energy usage may have different climate change and health
outcomes. In the urban environments of Asia, efforts to reduce emissions
and to use less energy  can have significant health benefits at rather low
per capita costs ($10 to $50 per person protected).  From a health
perspective the benefits of a one-ton reduction in particulate emissions
from  household stoves are estimated to be at least 40 times greater than
those from coal-fired power plants. Furthermore, shifting from coal fired
power plants to natural gas has larger health benefits than climate
benefits, while shifting from coal power to hydroelectric results in the
same percentage reduction in health effects and greenhouse gas emissions

There are a variety of steps that can be taken to help reduce the
environmental impacts of Asian development. While no single action will be
sufficient, the diversity of Asia offers substantial potential for
improvement by focusing strategies on specific fuels, technologies,
economic sectors, emission sources and ecologically sensitive ecosystems.
The expansion and replacement of the energy infrastructure that will be
required to meet  projected Asian development also offers great
opportunities to implement these strategies.  The differences in
cost-effective emission reductions in Asia (e.g., $3,600 per ton of SO2
reduced in Japan and $400-$500 per ton in China) also offer a mechanism for
the region as a whole, for coordinating emission control strategies.


Dr. Gregory R. Carmichael is a professor in the Department of Chemical &
Biochemical Engineering, and is Co-Director of the Center for Global &
Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. His main
research interests are the development and application of models for the
analysis of long-range transport of acidic and photochemical pollutants on
urban, regional and global scales. He has worked extensively on  issues of
long range transport of pollutants in Asia, and the impact of Asian
development on the environment. He has received support for his work on
Asia from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, NOAA (Global Change
Program), DOE, The World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. Dr.
Carmichael has over 120 refereed journal publications, serves on numerous
editorial boards, is past chair of the American Meteorological Society's
Committee on Atmospheric Chemistry, and serves as a consultant to the World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) on issues related to Asia.  He is
presently working with WMO on issues related to the recent Indonesian
forest fires and acid deposition.

Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland is the Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry
at the University of California at Irvine, where he arrived in 1964 as the
first chair of the Department of Chemistry. Since  1994, Dr. Rowland has
also been serving as the elected Foreign Secretary of the National Academy
of Sciences.  Prior to his arrival at UC-Irvine, Dr. Rowland had held
faculty positions at Princeton University and the University of Kansas.  He
earned his bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and his master's
and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago.  More than 50
scientists have received Ph.D. degrees under his direction.  Dr. Rowland's
research specialty is atmospheric chemistry and radiochemistry.  With
colleague Dr. Mario Molina, he was the first scientist to warn that
chlorofluorocarbons released into the atmosphere were depleting the Earth's
stratospheric ozone layer.  Research on CFCs and stratospheric ozone
eventually led, in 1987, to the United Nations Montreal Protocol, the first
international agreement for controlling and ameliorating environmental
damage to the global atmosphere.  The terms of the Montreal Protocol were
later strengthened in 1992 to attain a complete phaseout of further CFC
production by the year 1996.  Dr. Rowland has also been investigating the
impact of methane gas (CH-4) on the atmosphere.  Methane is another potent
greenhouse gas whose atmospheric concentration has doubled in the past two
centuries.  Presently, Dr. Rowland's research group is investigating the
hydrocarbon and halocarbon composition of the atmosphere both from aircraft
in remote locations and on the surface in heavily polluted cities.

Dr. Rowland is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 1983, he and Dr. Molina received
both the Tyler World Prize in Ecology and Energy, and the Award for
Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology of the American
Chemical Society.  In 1987,  Dr. Rowland received the Charles A. Dana Award
for Pioneering Achievements in Health, and in 1988, he was made a member of
the Global 500, the Honor Roll of the United Nations Environment Programme.
In 1989, he received the Japan Prize in Environmental Science and
Technology, and in 1994 he received the Albert Einstein Prize of the World
Cultural Council.  From 1991-1993, he served successive one-year terms as
President-Elect, President, and Chairman of the Board of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science.  In 1993 Dr. Rowland was
awarded the American Chemical Society's Peter Debye Medal in Physical
Chemistry, and in 1994, he was awarded the Roger Revelle Medal of the
American Geophysical Union.  In 1995, he shared the Nobel Prize in
Chemistry with Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen.

The Next Seminar is tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 20, 1998

Planned Topic: Ozone Depletion and the Montreal Protocol:  Historic Trends,
                                Present Status, and Future Projections.

For more information please contact:

Anthony D. Socci, Ph.D., U.S. Global Change Research Program Office, 400
Virginia Ave. SW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20024; Telephone: (202)
314-2235; Fax: (202) 488-8681 E-Mail: TSOCCI at USGCRP.GOV.

Additional information on the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)
and this Seminar Series is available on the USGCRP Home Page at:
http://www.usgcrp.gov.  A complete archive of seminar summaries can also be
found at this site.  Normally these seminars are held on the second Monday
of each month.

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list