Washington: A new research has determined that cleaning up black carbon emissions, created through diesel and solid biomass fuel burning, provides instant benefits against global warming.
The research was conducted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC (University of California) San Diego climate and atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan and his team.
Full implementation of existing emissions-control technologies could offset the warming effects of one to two decades of carbon dioxide emissions, according to According to Ramanathan and Jessica Seddon Wallack, director of the Center for Development Finance at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in Chennai, India.
A dedicated effort would not only allow more time for creation of effective carbon dioxide-reduction regulations but would also have enormous public health and economic benefits, according to the researchers.
"Focusing on reducing emissions of black carbon and ozone precursors is the low-hanging fruit: the implementation is feasible, and the benefits would be numerous and immediate," said Wallack and Ramanathan.
"It became clear to me that we have to go beyond just reducing CO2 to hedge against unmanageable climate change," Ramanathan said.
"Black carbon and ozone are technologically and politically tractable targets for immediate policy action," said Wallack.
"The challenge is raising awareness of their impacts on climate and development and knowledge about the relatively straightforward steps that can be taken to reduce emissions," she added.
Black carbon is a form of carbon that absorbs light and is most commonly produced by people as diesel exhaust or soot from wood- or dung-burning fires.
Ozone is a gas created by reactions among other gases such as carbon monoxide and methane frequently produced by human activities.
At lower levels of the atmosphere, it is a greenhouse gas with a warming effect equal to about 20 percent of that of carbon dioxide.
Both black carbon particles and ozone gas remain in the atmosphere for periods of only weeks to months, as opposed to the centuries that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere.
The researchers argue that mitigation measures targeting black carbon and ozone would therefore produce immediate climate benefits.
Additionally, it would help alleviate damage to respiratory health in humans caused by black carbon smog, the fourth-leading cause of premature death in developing countries.
Crop yields would be aided by ozone-removal efforts since the gas damages plant cells and disrupts chlorophyll production.
According to the researchers, the main challenges lie in motivating adoption of technologies to reduce diesel emissions and making technologies to burn biomass fuels more efficiently accessible around the world.
First Published: Saturday, August 22, 2009, 14:52