— Shashwat DC As the city of Delhi battles with air pollution in a rather unusual traffic-regulation manner, am reminded..
10. El Nino-ed
The year is almost over but fears and estimates over the impact of imminent El Nino effect, which happens every seven to eight years due to unusual Pacific warming, are far from over, Hope 2016 is better and cleaner.
9. Store More
Tesla launched the Powerwall and aims to scale up the household market for solar energy to new levels by filling in the storage gap considerably. It has started shipping 7kWh stationary batteries and with daily cycling, homeowners may be able to power their homes at night through solar-panel energy conserved in the day without those erstwhile issues of preservation, as the company is touting.
8. Paris Paper
The big, much-awaited and much-debated conference on Climate Change concluded in Paris as the year drew to a close. The accord signed by 196 parties after six years of dissent and hot-potato games showed some relief and promise this time. It urges the world to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
7. Gene Machine
In October, some researchers made advances with gene editing through CRISPR and raised another debate on ethics of gene-manipulation. While they were trying to make pig organs safer for human transplants or producing Malaria-fighting mosquitoes with embedded vaccines, they sparked arguments over ethical use of the breakthrough.
6. Talking of cars:
Delhi announced intentions of imposing a new odd-even car regime pilot to curb some pollution in the city. From Jan.1 to 15, cars with license plates ending with an even number will be able to ply on even-numbered dates and vice versa. There is a fine and also, a temporary ban on the registration of larger diesel-powered cars, SUVs etc. Exemptions for Diplomats, Women, Emergency vehicles, hybrid and electric cars and vans that run on compressed natural gas and two-wheelers continue for the pilot.
5. The Volkswagen Fiasco
Sept came and capsized the auto major into deep waters of a scandal. EPA or Environmental Protection Agency found defeat-software in diesel engines of this brand’s cars that was presumably allowing them to fake good test performance for emissions. That meant gushing out 40 times more Nitrogen Oxide pollutants than is allowed in the US. The German marquee auto company soon admitted to the cheating tests. About 4 lakh cars came under the scoop’s scope and 11 million worldwide guessed to have been fitted with the cheat device.
Good news. Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft spotted hydrated salt minerals and close on the heels, Tridymite and Silica were picked up by Curiosity Robot on Motors reasserting the possibility of Water and hence, life on this planet.
3. Solar Impulse
In July, Solar Impulse’s ambitious round-the-world flight ran into a due to weather and battery trouble. Co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg and co-pilot Bertrand Piccard, wanted to cover a 21,748 mile, multi-leg circumnavigation but crosswinds in China and then overheated batteries forced the solar-powered plane to hibernate in a hangar at Kalaeloa.
July onwards Indonesia saw itself smothered with fires and soon the smoke and haze clawed its way across Singapore and Malaysia too. People choked, respiratory epidemics ensued, and some two million hectares were annihilated. What’s more, thanks to the peat soil afire, per day CO2 emissions here soon surpassed the annual emissions of regions like Japan and Germany. Would reckless deforestation and rampant palm oil plantations pause and consider their damage?
April shook the world with a 7.8 scale magnitude as a huge earthquake devastated Nepal. It was the worst disaster to hit the country in 80 years, decimating over 8000 people and leaving about 4 lakhs or more stranded. October saw Afghanistan and Pakistan shaking with a 7.5 scale hit as well. The year also saw storms like Cyclone Pam or Typhoons like Melor, Koppu upsetting areas in Asia etc.