News / Health

    Study: Slow Global Warming by Cutting Soot, Methane

    Old-style wood stoves like this one can still be found in U.S. homes.
    Old-style wood stoves like this one can still be found in U.S. homes.
    Rosanne Skirble

    An international team of scientists says global warming can be slowed in the short term by focusing less on carbon dioxide and more on the emission of methane and soot.

    Carbon dioxide emissions produced by burning fossil fuels are the major cause of global warming, so efforts to combat climate change have focused on ways to cut CO2 releases. But according to the new study published this week in the journal Science, a quicker and more effective strategy would be to reduce emissions of other, shorter-lived air pollutants. The measures would not just slow climate change, but also boost crop yields, save money, and save lives.  

    Once CO2 is released into the atmosphere, it remains there for decades, while other global-warming pollutants such as methane and black carbon, or soot, do not. Soot is a byproduct of inefficient burning, a big problem in developing countries with cook stoves using wood, dung or coal.  Soot stays in the air for only a few days. Methane, a gas released from landfills, farms, mines and natural gas wells, stays in the atmosphere for about a decade.  

    Researchers analyzed 2,000 existing pollution control measures for the two pollutants to determine which would be most effective in both slowing global warming and cleaning up the air.

    Drew Shindell, a climate scientist with NASA, the U.S. space agency, led the analysis. In an interview with the journal Science, he pointed to the control measures that ranked at the top of the list.  

    For methane, he said, that means “… capturing leaks from pipelines and storage tanks, capturing instead of either releasing or flaring off methane that is produced naturally in coal mining, and in oil and gas production, and capturing methane from city landfills.

    Measures to reduce black carbon, also known as BC, focused largely on controlling soot emissions from diesel engines and switching to cleaner burning cook stoves.

    “So regions where you are reducing BC [black carbon], where the sources are especially large in Asia, especially south Asia and also parts of Africa, those regions would tend to see the greatest benefits in both local reduction of warming and in public health,” Shindell said.

    Adopting such controls could avoid between 700,000 and 4.7 million premature deaths, the study estimates, and save one-third of a million lives in India and China alone.  

    Shindell said the measures are cost effective. For example, profits from captured methane from a mining operation or landfill could boost the economy and protect public health.  

    “Typically the benefits [come from] reduced damage to agriculture and to health," he said. "And if you value the climate benefits as well, these more than offset the cost. If you invest $50 million and get $70 million back, we think it’s a great idea.”

    Control measures would also increase the annual yields of major crops by as much as 135 million metric tons. And Shindell said other effects would begin immediately.

    “So for something like black carbon, one of the things that it will do is disrupt the hydrologic cycle," he said. "So as soon as you stop emitting it, the same week, the atmosphere responds and you would have a educed disruption of rainfall patterns, staring virtually immediately.”

    Under the methane and black carbon reduction scenario, the study predicts fewer droughts in southern Europe and parts of Africa, and less severe monsoons in Asia. And implementing this strategy could shave a half degree off the expected 1.2 degree Celsius rise in global mean temperature now expected over the next four decades.

    Shindell says that while carbon dioxide emissions must be addressed in the long-term, these short-term measures that impact both climate change and public health are worth taking now.


    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora