Asia

Jhohora Akhter, 30, of Iruain village, draws water from the family well, which is contaminated with arsenic. Jhohora’s mother Jahanara Begum died of arsenic-related health conditions. Her father suffers from diabetes, an illness associated with chronic arsenic exposure. Her brother Ruhul Amin also suffers arsenic-related health conditions. Photo: © 2016 Atish Saha for Human Rights Watch

Report Charges ‘Nepotism and Neglect’ on Bangladesh Arsenic Poisoning

Two decades after arsenic was found to be contaminating drinking water across Bangladesh, tens of millions of people are still exposed to the deadly chemical. Now a new report from the group Human Rights Watch charges that the Bangladesh government “is failing to adequately respond” to the issue, and that political favoritism and neglect have corrupted the government’s efforts.

by |April 7, 2016
A major impediment to stricter pollution regulation in China is the fear of slowing down the economy. Photo: Nicolò Lazzati / Flickr

Does Pollution Regulation Kill Jobs? Lessons for China from the U.S.

The problem of air pollution in China continues to reach new heights. To combat the problem in any real way stringent regulation is needed. A new paper from Columbia University’s Earth Institute finds that this can be done without hurting job creation.

by |April 6, 2016
Map showing exposure to fine-particulate matter from 1999-2011

The Changing Face of Air Quality

Looking at regional differences in PM2.5 concentrations gives us a sense of the changing face of air quality throughout the world.

The drillers insert the larger diameter 4" PVC pipe into the well.  Handling the 10 meter pipe is challenging.

Last Sample and Home

We finished our work at the river transect. Now we had one more sample to collect. Alamgir had arranged for drillers at this new site, but they were delayed because of a knife fight between two villages over some property.

by |October 20, 2015
Hammering the OSL sampler, which is at the end of many auger extension rods.  The sampler fits inside the 3" PVC pipe that had been installed.

OSL Samples at Last

The success of the tube wells for drilling and obtaining samples was a great boon to our field program. We drilled three additional tube wells to complete a five-well transect across the abandoned river valley. When we date the samples, we will find out if the river switched position suddenly, possibly from an earthquake.

by |October 20, 2015
Standing ankle deep in mud by the resistivity meter.  The smokestack of the brick factory can be seen in the distance.

Tubewells to the Rescue

The resistivity testing was hampered by bad roads and flooded fields. The augering was proving similarly difficult in the thick muds of the abandoned channel. It was time to change to our alternative plan: drilling with tube wells. That worked better and we had turned a corner.

by |October 17, 2015
The large abandoned channel we hoped to work in is completely flooded.

Pani, Pani Everywhere

Heading out to our field area, we discovered that the abandoned river valley we planned to study was completely flooded. There was pani—the Bangla word for water—everywhere.

by |October 14, 2015
The Taj Mahal. You can see its enormous size from the line of people waiting to get inside standing on the pedestal. The line completely circled the tomb on this holiday weekend.

Bangladesh and India, Too

Returning to Bangladesh for additional fieldwork, I stopped off in India for several meetings, but we found time for some sightseeing, too. We were able to see the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi as well as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Agra. Plus all the meetings in Delhi, Kolkata and Dhaka were very successful.

by |October 13, 2015

Has the Green Revolution Really Succeeded?

Over the past 50 years, human population has more than doubled, but cereal-crop production has grown even faster. Unfortunately, newer high-yield crops are less nutritious.

Overhanging rooks and slumps reveal the much larger amount of erosion and land loss in the Indian Sundarban

Indian Sundarban

We arrived in Kolkata, and filmed by the Hooghly River. While it is no longer the main channel of the Ganges, it is still the Holy Ganges and we saw a funeral procession spreading ashes of a loved one while filming there. Then a 5 hour trip by car, ferry, rickshaw and boat to the Indian Sundarbans. The mangrove forest here is undergoing more erosion and land loss than in Bangladesh, where more river sediments can replenish it. The water here is more saline and the trees are small. A tiger was spotted by another boat, but was gone when we got there.

by |March 30, 2015