Sunday, January 04, 2009

Reducing Soot Emissions Could Quickly Slow Global Warming

With all the attention on reducing carbon dioxide emissions as the primary means of fighting global warming relatively little attention has been paid to another major cause of warming, soot. The Independent reports that a published study by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies found that simply reducing the emissions of soot would quickly produce a cooling effect. Unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the atmosphere for more than one hundred years soot rapidly falls back to earth to so the time between reducing emissions and cooling is short. According to the study the two most effective ways to reduce soot emissions would be by “reducing emissions from domestic fuel burning” in developing countries and “reduction in surface transport emissions in North America.” Since the technologies to reduce these emissions is readily available it would seem that the main question is whether governments will act. The wealthier countries would have to help the developing countries pay for technologies that eliminate soot emissions, e.g., solar stoves, and strict regulations would have to be imposed on the trucking industry in North America. Compared to what it will take to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions this seems like a relatively easy goal to achieve. If effective action is taken, not only might global warming be reduced but numerous lives would be saved from a reduction in toxic air pollutants.

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