Electric Environment

Number of lightning casualties in China increased tenfold in 20 years

Comment AEC: In China, the number of people injured or killed by lighting today is ten times as high as it was twenty years ago. Recently, researchers announced they will try to ‘catch smog in the act’ to see if rising sulphate levels are responsible for build-up of electric energy in the atmosphere. So, not only CO2 is made responsible for Earth changes, but also other anthropogenic gases, in this case sulfates, which is a real environmental hazard and should be reduced. Anthropogenic sulfate may indeed turn out to contribute to increasing lightning discharges, but the approach to the problem again supports what I was trying to say in may article Climate Change Explained: For all types of Earth Changes, the focus in the search for a cause is laid on potential human causes. The number of lightning casualties is on the rise worldwide particularly in third world countries. Extraordinary lightning events were reported before and during the Black Death in the 14th Century.

Here is the news story on scmp.com Saturday, 16 September 2017

Is smog breeding storms? China explores rise in lightning deaths

Researchers will try to ‘catch smog in the act’ to see if rising sulphate levels are responsible for build-up of electric energy in the atmosphere

 

China is investigating whether air pollution has played a part in the rapid increase in the number of people struck by lightning in some of its largest cities in recent decades, according to a scientist involved in the project.

The investigation follows a discovery by US scientists that fossil fuel exhaust fumes could double the lightning risk at sea, which raised concerns about the risk to vessels in some of the world’s busiest waters, including the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait.

Lightning now kills or injures nearly 4,000 people in China annually, according to government statistics, but less than 20 years ago the reported casualties were only a tenth of the present level.

The cost of the damage it causes to businesses in sectors such as telecommunications, power and transport is estimated to be somewhere between 5 billion and 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion).

Li Jingxiao, a researcher at Beijing Lightning Protection Centre, said large quantities of polluting particles in the atmosphere could generate powerful electric fields due to friction.

When the energy reaches “breakdown” level it can be released suddenly in the form of a lightning bolt.

Li said his team had recently been commissioned by the government to investigate a possible link between smog and lightning-related accidents.

A total 47 people were killed and 96 injured by lightning in Beijing between 1957 to 2015, according to Li, who had access to the relevant databases.

“The majority of these cases occurred after the 1990s,” he said. Between 2000 and 2009, for instance, the number of people killed or injured was nearly seven times that in the 1960s or 1970s.

The uptick coincided with the increase of emissions.

The number of cars in Beijing increased from 130,000 in 1982 to nearly six million this year. Car exhaust fumes and industrial pollution have made Beijing one of the world’s most polluted cities in recent years.

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