Traffic pollution reaches the Himalayas

India’s notorious traffic pollution is no longer an urban malaise, its impact is now being felt 4,000 metres above sea level, in the Himalayas. Geologists have found high levels of sulphur from diesel emissions along the Manali-Leh highway that snakes through the northwestern Himalayas. Soil samples from four sites along the 480 km highway were tested for 10 heavy metals and sulphur among other chemicals. While the good news is that heavy metal contamination was found to be low, the soil had significantly high levels of sulphur (490–2033 ppm), which the scientists attribute to diesel exhaust from heavy traffic on this mountainous road. Indian diesel contains some of the highest concentrations of sulphur in the world and an estimated 70% of automobiles running on Indian roads use diesel,

— source thehindu.com

U.S. Sues Fiat Chrysler over Software Allowing Ram Trucks to Skirt Emissions Rules

in the United States, the Justice Department has sued Fiat Chrysler, accusing it of using illegal software to bypass emissions regulations. The EPA accused Fiat Chrysler of installing the software on more than 100,000 Ram pickup trucks, allowing the car to bypass emissions control systems and spew significantly higher levels of pollution. Another car company, Volkswagen, has admitted to using software to rig some 11 million vehicles worldwide, allowing them to emit up to 40 times more pollution than standards allow.

— source democracynow.org

Birds sing shorter songs in response to traffic noise

Birds sing differently in response to traffic noise, which potentially affects their ability to attract mates and defend their territory, according to research published in Bioacoustics. The study found that a species of North American flycatcher sings shorter songs at a lower range of frequencies in response to traffic noise levels. The researchers suggest traffic noise reduction, for example through road closures, is a viable option for mitigating this effect.

— source sciencedaily.com

Italy court blocks Uber services in Italy

A court blocked the use of smart phone apps for Uber cars UBER.UL in Italy on Friday, ruling that they constituted unfair competition. The court said Uber could not use its Black, Lux, Suv, X , XL, Select and Van phone applications nor could it promote or advertise its services in Italy, a court document showed. The court ruled in favour of a suit filed by Italy’s major traditional taxi associations.

— source reuters.com

All Dutch Trains Now Run 100% On Wind Power

Electric trains have always been a relatively sustainable mode of transport, with much lower emissions than cars, but as of the 1st of January, 2017, all electric train rides in the Netherlands have become even greener. They are now entirely powered by clean, renewable, wind energy.

Dutch railway companies, of which NS is by far the largest, teamed up with energy company Eneco in 2015 to cut train ride emissions drastically. Originally, 2018 was set as the target for changing to 100% renewable power sources. After having reached 75% in 2016, though, the 100% transition was completed one year ahead of schedule.

The NS alone transports 600,000 people per day, for which it needs 1.2 billion kWh of electricity a year.

— source cleantechnica.com

Solar panel researchers investigate powering trains by bypassing grid

Imperial College London has partnered with the climate change charity 10:10 to investigate the use of track-side solar panels to power trains, the two organisations announced yesterday. The renewable traction power project will see university researchers look at connecting solar panels directly to the lines that provide power to trains, a move that would bypass the electricity grid in order to more efficiently manage power demand from trains.

— source theguardian.com