For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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A Welsh Village Embraces Its Bond With the Queen

ABERFAN, Wales — As the days count down to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday, Gaynor Madgwick has been of two minds: Should she watch the ceremony from her home in South Wales or join the crowds in London to pay her respects in person?

Her brain says stay. Ms. Madgwick, 64, has feared crowds and confined spaces since an avalanche of slurry — a mixture of debris from a coal mine and water — cascaded down the hillside above her village of Aberfan in 1966. One of the worst civilian disasters in contemporary British history, the avalanche crushed the village school, killed 144 villagers, 116 of them children, and left Ms. Madgwick trapped, but alive, beneath the rubble.

Her heart says go. The queen built an unusually strong relationship with Aberfan, beginning in the days after that very disaster and extending through four visits the queen made to the village.

the death of Queen Elizabeth II — the ever-present backdrop to a century of dramatic social change — has felt like a rug snatched from beneath them, even if they never met or saw her.

reassessment of national identity that, in Wales, includes calls for an independent Welsh state.

Elizabeth arrived in Bonn on the first state visit by a British monarch to Germany in more than 50 years. The trip formally sealed the reconciliation between the two nations following the world wars.

Ms. Madgwick survived, her leg broken by a dislodged radiator. Her sister and brother, Marilyn and Carl, both died.

The scale of the disaster quickly made it a moment of national introspection and trauma, and the queen soon decided to visit.

One of the biggest regrets of her reign was that she did not go sooner, a leading aide later said, and some villagers say the eight-day delay rankled the community at the time. But today, the residents largely remember her arrival as a moving gesture of solidarity from someone they never expected to lay eyes on.

research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Other wings of the British state angered the village by refusing to prosecute any coal industry officials for negligence. Successive governments also declined to cover the whole cost of removing other dangerous slurry tips near the village, forcing villagers to dip into donations intended for survivors, until they were finally fully reimbursed in 2007.

But the queen’s concern for Aberfan meant that she was seen as separate from the state’s indifference, despite being its titular head.

Elsewhere in Britain, people have debated whether the queen could really ever rise beyond politics, given the monarch’s interest in maintaining her own role in Britain’s political system. But in Aberfan, there was less doubt.

“There’s no political agenda there,” said Jeff Edwards, 64, the last child to be rescued from the rubble. “The queen is above all that.”

In Aberfan, most people expressed sympathy for her family and respect for her sense of duty. But there are those, particularly among young generations, who have had a more ambivalent response to the queen’s death.

For some, the accession of King Charles III — as well as the abrupt appointment of his son William to his former role of Prince of Wales — is more problematic.

“I should be Prince of Wales, I’m more Welsh than Charles or William,” said Darren Martin, 47, a gardener in the village, with a laugh. Of the queen, he said: “Don’t get me wrong, I admire the woman. But I do think the time has come for us in Wales to be ruled by our own people.”

The abruptness of the queen’s death was a psychological jolt that has prompted, in some, a rethinking of long-held norms and doctrines.

“If things can change drastically like that, why can’t things change here?” asked Jordan McCarthy, 21, another gardener in Aberfan. “I would like Welsh independence.”

Of a monarchy, he added: “Only if they’re born and raised in Wales — that’s the only king or queen I’ll accept.”

Generally, though, the mood in Aberfan has been one of quiet mourning and deference. The local library opened a book of condolence. Villagers gathered in the pub to watch the new king’s speeches and processions. Some left bouquets beside the tree planted by the queen.

On Monday night, a men’s choir, founded by grieving relatives half a century ago, gathered for their biweekly practice. Proud Welshmen, they were preparing for their next performance — singing songs and hymns, some of them in Welsh, on the sidelines of the Welsh rugby team’s upcoming game.

But halfway through, the choir’s president, Steve Beasley, stood up.

“We all know about the queen,” Mr. Beasley said. “Please stand up for a minute’s silence.”

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Why Is There New Interest In Fusion Energy?

A company by the name of Zap Energy is trying to find a way to develop more energy output from fusion reactions.

Temperatures hotter than the center of the sun, the highest-energy lasers in the world, magnets the size of a basketball court — and the promise of virtually unlimited energy on Earth. 

Dozens of universities and governments around the world are pursuing fusion energy, hoping to obtain a limitless energy source that produces no carbon emissions. 

At Zap Energy outside Seattle, researchers are among the 35 private companies racing to crack the puzzle.  

Ben Levitt is the director of research and development at Zap Energy. 

“I run a team here of physicists and engineers at this lab. We do the development on the fusion core reactor right here,” said Levitt. “Where we need to get to is getting more energy output from these fusion reactions than is required as input. In other words, to light the candle, you need a certain amount of energy.” 

No one here is wearing radiation protection. Scientists say nuclear fusion is very different than nuclear fission, which powers hundreds of power plants across the world. 

“Fission, which is commercially available and has been so since, you know, right after World War II, is the breaking apart of large nuclei. Think of uranium and plutonium, those things, when you take a large nucleus and split it apart, you get a bunch of energy coming out and that’s great,” Levitt said. 

But fission reactors also produce thousands of tons of radioactive waste each year.  

“Fusion, on the other hand, is quite different and is not yet commercially available. This is the process that exists in all the stars in all the galaxies in the universe. So the challenge for us is how do you create a star on Earth? Our sun is made up predominantly of hydrogen and helium. What the sun also has is a lot of gravitational force. So it can compress all this hot gas, hot enough and dense enough that these nuclei of hydrogen come so close together they actually fuse and they’re pushed together to create another nucleus, a heavier nucleus, which is helium. And you get even more energy than in the fission reaction,” said Levitt. 

To “create that star on Earth,” says Levitt, researchers must contain a mysterious substance called plasma.

“In order of increasing temperature, you can start at a solid, increase the temperature you get to a liquid, then to a gas,” he said.  “What happens when you go even hotter than a gas? That’s a plasma.”

Plasma’s charged particles repel one another.  

“The trick is to force them together, long enough that they’ll fuse,” he continued. 

Smushing charged plasma to achieve fusion takes incredible force. A massive machine called the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California uses 192 giant lasers to push the plasma together.   

A facility under construction in France called Iter will use huge magnets to try to achieve fusion. 

Zap, meanwhile, is working to make smaller scale reactors. Their name reflects their strategy: By hitting the plasma with a zap of lightning, they create magnetic fields that they believe can eventually keep the plasma together. 

“If we can create this actually confined plasma with its own magnetic field, it will self confine without the need for any other confinement technology,” said Levitt. 

But big hurdles loom. Tritium gas is a rare isotope of hydrogen that serves as a key ingredient for fusion.  

Recent reports, including an article in Science Magazine, suggest a shortage of the gas could derail efforts to achieve fusion. 

The bigger problem is that despite billions of dollars of funding and decades of research into fusion, no experiment has ever produced a sustained fusion burn. 

“We’ve been making fusion reactions for more than a decade now. The issue is producing more energy output from fusion reactions than is required to start. These fusion reactions are what’s called this energy break-even demonstration. We believe we’re right around the corner from doing so,” said Levitt. 

That achievement could make Zap Energy a household name and transform the world energy system for centuries. 

Source: newsy.com

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400M Tons Of Plastic Waste Created Each Year But Only 2M Tons Recycled

Newsy’s Scott Withers visits the largest residential recycling plant in the country, located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Americans generate a lot of waste — about five pounds per person per day — and a lot of it is plastic. Those flimsy grocery bags, shrink wrap packaging and of course, bottles — lots and lots of bottles.  

Every year, we toss out 2.5 million plastic bottles.  

“They are highly recyclable and its imperative they end up in your recycling bin,” Republic Services External Communications Manager Jeremy Walters said.

Together, we create 400 million tons of plastic waste a year. Only two million tons of that gets recycled. We used to do better but during the pandemic, our recycling rate dropped because we started making more garbage.  

“It’s how much trash is generated versus how much recycling is generated. And when that trash starts to go up, the recycling volumes start to dilute,” Walters continued. 

Vegas—What happens here, gets recycled here. It’s not the official slogan for the city, but it could be. 

This city is known for excess — huge hotels and big casinos. And it also has the largest residential recycling plant in the country.  

Republic Services recycles two million pounds every day, which is the equivalent weight of 500 cars. Workers at the massive plant sort the mixed recyclables, plastics, aluminum, glass and paper and remove the wish-cycle items, which are things we wish we could recycle but can’t. 

“Bowling balls, shoes, engine blocks, steel security doors—I promise you, if you use your imagination, we’ve seen it here,” Walters said.

Paper is easily the most recycled item — 50 million tons of it per year, and we also break down and recycle almost all of our cardboard boxes. More than 90% of those boxes get recycled.

There is plenty that doesn’t get recycled, though. One hundred and ten million glass bottles get thrown away every year. Glass can be recycled indefinitely—same with aluminum— but we still don’t recycle about seven million tons a year. And then there’s all those plastic bottles.

All the trash that we create, which does not go through recycling plants like this one, ends up piling up in landfills.  

Source: newsy.com

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IAEA board passes resolution calling on Russia to leave Zaporizhzhia

A Russian all-terrain armoured vehicle is parked outside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during the visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, September 1, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/

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  • Second resolution on Ukraine since war started
  • First was in March before Russia seized power plant
  • Twenty-six of 35 board members backed the text
  • Russia and China only countries to oppose it

VIENNA, Sept 15 (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors on Thursday passed a resolution demanding that Russia end its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The resolution is the second on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board, and their content is very similar, though the first in March preceded Russian forces taking control of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant. read more

Both resolutions were proposed by Canada and Poland on behalf of Ukraine, which is not on the board, the IAEA’s top policy-making body that meets more than once a year.

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The text, which says the board calls on Russia to “immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine”, was passed with 26 votes in favour, two against and seven abstentions, diplomats at the closed-door meeting said. read more

The text was later posted on the IAEA’s website.

Russia and China were the countries that voted against while Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Burundi, Vietnam, India and Pakistan abstained, the diplomats said.

The board “deplores the Russian Federation’s persistent violent actions against nuclear facilities in Ukraine, including forcefully seizing of control of nuclear facilities,” the resolution’s text reads.

Russia seized radioactive waste facilities in Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, at the start of the war but later withdrew.

Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine.

Russia’s mission to the IAEA called the text anti-Russian and said “the Achilles’ heel of this resolution” was that it said nothing about the “systematic shelling” of the plant.

“The reason is simple – this shelling is carried out by Ukraine, which is supported and shielded by Western countries in every possible way,” it said in a statement.

The resolution adds that Russia’s occupation of the plant significantly increases the risk of a nuclear accident. Ukrainian staff continue to operate the plant in conditions that the IAEA has described as endangering the site’s safety.

“This Board took up the issue in March and adopted a resolution that deplored Russia’s violent actions and called upon Russia to immediately cease all actions against and at nuclear facilities in Ukraine and return control of them to the competent Ukrainian authorities,” the U.S. statement to the board said.

“The very next day, Russia spurned that call by seizing the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. Russia is treating Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure as a military prize, seeking to deprive Ukraine of control over its own energy resources and to use the plant as a base for military action against Ukraine,” it added.

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Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Live Updates: Ukraine Steps Up Information War, Seeking to Exploit Russian Setbacks

WASHINGTON — The strategy behind Ukraine’s rapid military gains in recent days began to take shape months ago during a series of intense conversations between Ukrainian and U.S. officials about the way forward in the war against Russia, according to American officials.

The counteroffensive — revised this summer from its original form after urgent discussions between senior U.S. and Ukrainian officials — has succeeded beyond most predictions. Ukrainian forces have devastated Russian command and control, and appear poised to capitalize on their advances in the northeast of the country and in another campaign in the south.

The work began soon after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told his generals he wanted to make a dramatic move to demonstrate that his country could push back on the Russian invasion. Under his orders, the Ukrainian military devised a plan to launch a broad assault across the south to reclaim Kherson and cut off Mariupol from the Russian force in the east.

The Ukrainian generals and American officials believed that such a large-scale attack would incur immense casualties and fail to quickly retake large amounts of territory. The Ukrainians were already suffering hundreds of casualties a day in what had become a grinding conflict. The Russian forces were experiencing similar losses but were still inching forward, laying waste to Ukrainian towns in the eastern region of Donbas.

Long reluctant to share details of their plans, the Ukrainian commanders started opening up more to American and British intelligence officials and seeking advice.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Mr. Zelensky, spoke multiple times about the planning for the counteroffensive, according to a senior administration official. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and senior Ukrainian military leaders regularly discussed intelligence and military support.

And in Kyiv, Ukrainian and British military officials continued working together while the new American defense attaché, Brig. Gen. Garrick Harmon, began having daily sessions with Ukraine’s top officers.

Time was of the essence, U.S. and Ukrainian officials believed. To mount an effective counterattack, the Ukrainians needed to move before the first snow, when President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would be able to use his control of gas supplies to pressure Europe.

This account of the lead-up to the counteroffensive is based on interviews with multiple senior American officials and others briefed on the classified discussions between Washington and Kyiv that helped Ukrainian commanders shape the battle. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the talks.

American officials were hesitant to judge the full impact of the counteroffensive, anxious to see how it continues to play out. For now, Kyiv has the advantage.

One critical moment this summer came during a war game with U.S. and Ukrainian officials aimed at testing the success of a broad offensive across the south. The exercise, reported earlier by CNN, suggested such an offensive would fail. Armed with the American skepticism, Ukrainian military officials went back to Mr. Zelensky.

“We did do some modeling and some tabletop exercises,” Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s policy chief, said in a telephone interview. “That set of exercises suggested that certain avenues for a counteroffensive were likely to be more successful than others. We provided that advice, and then the Ukrainians internalized that and made their own decision.”

The stakes were huge. Ukraine needed to demonstrate that this was not going to become just another frozen conflict, and that it could retake territory, for the morale of its people and to shore up support of the West.

Throughout August, at the behest of Ukrainians, U.S. officials stepped up feeds of intelligence about the position of Russian forces, highlighting weaknesses in the Russian lines. The intelligence also indicated that Moscow would struggle to quickly reinforce its troops in northeast Ukraine or move troops from the south, even if it detected Ukrainian preparations for the counteroffensive.

“We saw the fact that the Russians actually relocated a lot of their best forces down to the south in preparation for the other counteroffensive that the Ukrainians kicked off,” Mr. Kahl said. “So we had reason to believe that because of the persistent morale challenges, and the pressure of the Ukrainians, that there might be pockets of the Russian military that are a little more brittle than they appear on paper.”

Instead of one large offensive, the Ukrainian military proposed two. One, in Kherson, would most likely take days or weeks before any dramatic results because of the concentration of Russian troops. The other was planned for near Kharkiv.

Together Britain, the United States and Ukraine conducted an assessment of the new plan, trying to war game it once more. This time officials from the three countries agreed it would work — and give Mr. Zelensky what he wanted: a big, clear victory.

But the plan, according to an officer on the general staff in Kyiv, depended entirely on the size and pace of additional military aid from the United States.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that had used older Soviet weapons, exhausted most of its own ammunition. Learning how to use new weapons systems in the middle of the war is difficult. But so far the risky move has proved successful. More than 800,000 rounds of 155-millimeter artillery shells, for instance, have been sent to Kyiv, helping fuel its current offensives. The United States alone has committed more than $14.5 billion in military aid since the war started in February.

Before the counteroffensive, Ukraine’s armed forces sent the United States a detailed list of weapons they needed to make the plan successful, according to the Ukrainian officer.

Specific weapons, like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, are having an outsize effect on the battlefield. The satellite-guided rockets fired by these launch vehicles, called GMLRS, each contain a warhead with 200 pounds of explosives and have been used in recent weeks by Ukrainian forces to destroy more than 400 Russian arms depots, command posts and other targets, American officials said.

More recently, Ukrainian forces have put American-supplied HARM air-launched missiles on Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets, which no air force had ever done. The missiles have been particularly effective in destroying Russian radars.

“We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems,” General Milley said last week in Germany at a meeting of 50 countries that are helping Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid. “They’re having great difficulty resupplying their forces and replacing their combat losses.”

Ukrainian and American officials said the now weekly or biweekly Pentagon announcements of new shipments of weapons and munitions from American stockpiles have given Kyiv’s senior commanders the confidence to plan complex simultaneous offensives.

“The importance of Western military support is not just in specific weapons systems, but in the assurance and confidence that the Ukrainians can use in their future planning,” said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, who recently returned from Ukraine.

As Ukrainian soldiers moved into areas in the northeast over the weekend, Russian forces crumbled. In some places around Kharkiv, Russian troops just walked away from the battle, leaving behind equipment and ammunition, according to U.S. defense officials.

The Kherson attack was never a feint or a diversion, according to people briefed on the plan. And it has succeeded in forcing Moscow to delay sham votes on whether parts of the Kherson region want to join Russia. But, as expected, the counteroffensive is moving more slowly given the much higher number of Russian forces there compared with Kharkiv.

Eventually, Ukrainian officials believe their long-term success requires progress on the original goals in the discarded strategy, including recapturing the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, cutting off Russian forces in Mariupol and pushing Russian forces in Kherson back across the Dnipro River, American officials said.

Russia has been weakened. By failing to detect Ukraine’s buildup around Kharkiv, the Russian military has demonstrated incompetence and shown that it lacks solid intelligence. Its command and control have been decimated and it is having trouble supplying its troops, giving Ukraine an opening in the coming weeks, U.S. officials said.

While Ukraine may have an opportunity to recapture more territory in the east, U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the south is the most important theater of the war.

“Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are likely potential objectives,” said Michael Kofman, the director of Russia studies at CNA, a defense research institute. “We might see further Ukrainian Army operations to achieve breakthroughs there in the future.”

The plan that emerged from the midsummer discussions relied heavily on U.S. intelligence and high-tech weaponry. But American officials insist that credit for the offensive lies fully with Mr. Zelensky and the Ukrainian military, which led a relatively small force in Kharkiv to an outsize victory.

“No one is spiking the football yet,” Mr. Kahl said. But, he added: “I think it really demonstrates to the world that the Ukrainians are capable of conducting complex, offensive operations.”

Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting from Kharkiv, Ukraine, and Michael Schwirtz from New York.

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In Parts Of The Mideast, Power Generators Spew Toxic Fumes 24/7

The pollutants caused by massive generators add to the many environmental woes of the Middle East.

They literally run the country. In parking lots, on flatbed trucks, hospital courtyards and rooftops, private generators are ubiquitous in parts of the Middle East, spewing hazardous fumes into homes and businesses 24 hours a day.

As the world looks for renewable energy to tackle climate change, millions of people around the region depend almost completely on diesel-powered private generators to keep the lights on because war or mismanagement have gutted electricity infrastructure.

Experts call it national suicide from an environmental and health perspective.

“Air pollution from diesel generators contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants, including many known or suspected cancer-causing substances,” said Samy Kayed, managing director and co-founder of the Environment Academy at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

Greater exposure to these pollutants likely increases respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease, he said. It also causes acid rain that harms plant growth and increases eutrophication — the excess build-up of nutrients in water that ultimately kills aquatic plants.

Since they usually use diesel, generators also produce far more climate change-inducing emissions than, for example, a natural gas power plant does, he said.

The pollutants caused by massive generators add to the many environmental woes of the Middle East, which is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change. The region already has high temperatures and limited water resources even without the growing impact of global warming.

The reliance on generators results from state failure. In Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, governments can’t maintain a functioning central power network, whether because of war, conflict or mismanagement and corruption.

Lebanon, for example, has not built a new power plant in decades. Multiple plans for new ones have run aground on politicians’ factionalism and conflicting patronage interests. The country’s few aging, heavy-fuel oil plants long ago became unable to meet demand.

Iraq, meanwhile, sits on some of the world’s biggest oil reserves. Yet scorching summer-time heat is always accompanied by the roar of neighborhood generators, as residents blast ACs around the clock to keep cool.

Repeated wars over the decades have wrecked Iraq’s electricity networks. Corruption has siphoned away billions of dollars meant to repair and upgrade it. Some 17 billion cubic meters of gas from Iraq’s wells are burned every year as waste, because it hasn’t built the infrastructure to capture it and convert it to electricity to power Iraqi homes.

In Libya, a country prized for its light and sweet crude oil, electricity networks have buckled under years of civil war and the lack of a central government.

“The power cuts last the greater part of the day, when electricity is mostly needed,” said Muataz Shobaik, the owner of a butcher shop in the city of Benghazi, in Libya’s east, who uses a noisy generator to keep his coolers running.

“Every business has to have a backup off-grid solution now,” he said. Diesel fumes from his and neighboring shops’ machines hung thick in the air amid the oppressive heat.

The Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people rely on around 700 neighborhood generators across the territory for their homes. Thousands of private generators keep businesses, government institutions, universities and health centers running. Running on diesel, they churn black smoke in the air, tarring walls around them.

Since Israel bombed the only power plant in the Hamas-ruled territory in 2014, the station has never reached full capacity. Gaza only gets about half the power it needs from the plant and directly from Israel. Cutoffs can last up to 16 hours a day.

WAY OF LIFE

Perhaps nowhere do generators rule people’s lives as much as in Lebanon, where the system is so entrenched and institutionalized that private generator owners have their own business association.

They are crammed into tight streets, parking lots, on roofs and balconies and in garages. Some are as large as storage containers, others small and blaring noise.

Lebanon’s 5 million people have long depended on them. The word “moteur,” French for generator, is one of the most often spoken words among Lebanese.

Reliance has only increased since Lebanon’s economy unraveled in late 2019 and central power cutoffs began lasting longer. At the same time, generator owners have had to ration use because of soaring diesel prices and high temperatures, turning them off several times a day for breaks.

So residents plan their lives around the gaps in electricity.

Those who can’t start the day without coffee set an alarm to make a cup before the generator turns off. The frail or elderly in apartment towers wait for the generator to switch on before leaving home so they don’t have to climb stairs. Hospitals must keep generators humming so life-saving machines can operate without disruption.

“We understand people’s frustration, but if it wasn’t for us, people would be living in darkness,” said Ihab, the Egyptian operator of a generator station north of Beirut.

“They say we are more powerful than the state, but it is the absence of the state that led us to exist,” he said, giving only his first name to avoid trouble with the authorities.

Siham Hanna, a 58-year-old translator in Beirut, said generator fumes exacerbate her elderly father’s lung condition. She wipes soot off her balcony and other surfaces several times a day.

“It’s the 21st century, but we live like in the stone ages. Who lives like this?” said Hanna, who does not recall her country ever having stable electricity in her life.

Some in Lebanon and elsewhere have begun to install solar power systems in their homes. But most use it only to fill in when the generator is off. Cost and space issues in urban areas have also limited solar use.

In Iraq, the typical middle-income household uses generator power for 10 hours a day on average and pays $240 per Megawatt/hour, among the highest rates in the region, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

The need for generators has become ingrained in people’s minds. At a recent concert in the capital, famed singer Umm Ali al-Malla made sure to thank not only the audience but also the venue’s technical director “for keeping the generator going” while her admirers danced.

TOXIC CONTAMINANTS

As opposed to power plants outside urban areas, generators are in the heart of neighborhoods, pumping toxins directly to residents.

This is catastrophic, said Najat Saliba, a chemist at the American University of Beirut who recently won a seat in Parliament.

“This is extremely taxing on the environment, especially the amount of black carbon and particles that they emit,” she said. There are almost no regulations and no filtering of particles, she added.

Researchers at AUB found that the level of toxic emissions may have quadrupled since Lebanon’s financial crisis began because of increased reliance on generators.

In Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, miles of wires crisscross streets connecting thousands of private generators. Each produces 600 kilograms of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per 8 hours working time, according to Mohammed al Hazem, an environmental activist.

Similarly, a 2020 study on the environmental impact of using large generators in the University of Technology in Baghdad found very high concentrations of pollutants exceeding limits set by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.

That was particularly because Iraqi diesel fuel has a high sulphur content — “one of the worst in the world,” the study said. The emissions include “sulphate, nitrate materials, atoms of soot carbon, ash” and pollutants that are considered carcinogens, it warned.

“The pollutants emitted from these generators exert a remarkable impact on the overall health of students and university staff, it said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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