Scientists say soot a key factor in warming
Soot from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and burning wood is a bigger cause of global warming than previously thought, and is the major cause of the rapid melting of the Arctic's sea ice, Stanford climate experts say.Flashback: South Asia Brown Cloud Is Homemade: Scientific American Podcast
In a report to be published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Jacobson noted that soot particles - both black and brown carbon - come not only from burning fossil fuels in industry and transportation, but also from the immense quantities of wood and dung that are burned for heating and cooking throughout the developing world.
Controlling soot may be the only way to significantly slow Arctic warming over the next two decades, Jacobson said.
"We have to start taking its effects into account in planning mitigation efforts, and the sooner we start making changes, the better," he said.
James Hansen, a leading climate expert at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an outspoken advocate of strong political action to combat global warming, agrees that soot is a major factor in the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice.
In an e-mail to The Chronicle, Hansen referred to soot particles as "dirty aerosols," saying that the melting of ice in the Arctic and worldwide is "usually attributed solely to global warming," and that the role of soot has not been adequately acknowledged.
The cloud contains black particles called carbonaceous aerosols—basically carbon soot. The team used radiocarbon analysis to figure out what parts of the soot come from biomass and what comes from fossil fuels. Biomass typically comes from burning forests for agriculture or burning wood in stoves. And fossil fuel particulates come from sources such as diesel engines or burning coal.
The investigators were surprised to discover that a large percentage of the soot, from almost half to two-thirds, comes from burning biomass like wood and dung for cooking and heat, rather than from coal power plants.
So if the alleged melting is mostly caused by soot, and if most of the soot comes from burning wood and dung, not oil and coal (which are getting cleaner all the time), then we should encourage the 3rd world, and India and China to transition their economies to oil and coal as a transition to the ever elusive "renewables" that sound so warm and fuzzy but are so difficult to implement in significant ways, without stupendous subsidies. In other words, maybe coal and oil are the cleanest and least damaging path for development. They create wealth, raising populations from abject poverty to modern standards of health, sanitation and prosperity, and best of all, you don't have to pay people to use them, or penalize those who don't. What a wonderful plan for world peace - except it's not a plan, it's the market at work, and possibly, just possibly, getting the right answer. Who'd a thunk it?
Gotta give these greens credit, they are going to find a way to make us to pay for our progress come hell or high water...
BS, dung what's the difference.
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