NASA scientists determine the 14 most effective ways to fight global warming by reducing methane and black carbon emissions. Countries around the world will need to update and change their infrastructures to yield the greatest results.
After considering 400 different ways to find out which measures to focus on scientists chose 14. Each would help reduce the black carbon, methane, or both. While the entire world will benefit, the greatest agricultural and health benefits will be found in the Middle East and Asia.
Reducing emissions of black carbon and methane into the atmosphere could slow climate change, increase crop yields and prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year, finds new NASA-led research published today.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said of the newest findings, "The scientific case for fast action on these so-called 'short-lived climate forcers' has been steadily built over more than a decade, and this study provides further focused and compelling analysis of the likely benefits at the national and regional level."
Carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change over the long term, because it remains in the atmosphere 200 to 300 years. The scientists say reducing black carbon and methane emissions would have a more immediate impact because these two pollutants circulate out of the atmosphere more quickly than CO2. Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of about 12 years, while black carbon falls to the ground within a few days.
The new study builds on a United Nations Environment Program-World Meteorological Organization report published in February 2011, also led by Dr. Shindell, which indicated that reducing emissions of black carbon and methane could slow the rate of climate change over the next 50 years.
Image shown: Dr. Drew Shindell, scientist and lead researcher of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. Image courtesy of American Physical Society
Methane and Black Carbon Add to Global Warming
Although there are several contributing factors to the world's climate change, carbon dioxide being the greatest concern, black carbon and methane would offer a quick fix to help slow it down. Both add to the formation of ozone and can directly damage plant and human health.
Ways to Fight Black Carbon
- Install filters in diesel vehicles
- Keep high-emitting vehicles off the road
- Upgrade boilers, incinerators, and cooking stoves to cleaner burning types
- Install more efficient brick production kilns
- Upgrade coke ovens
- Ban agricultural burning
Black carbon, or soot, is expelled through the process of burning biomass, such as manure or wood, and fossil fuels. In addition to being physically harmful to humans, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are common, it falls from the atmosphere covering everything in black dust.
It is most noticeable on snow. That black, dirty snow you see a few days after it fell is fallen carbon particles. It looks disgusting and it's hurting our environment.
When the soot covers the snow it blocks its reflective qualities. Instead of reflecting sunlight, it absorbs it. Carbon absorbs the radiation from the Sun adding to global warming. It can also cause rainfall patterns to change.
Ways to Fight Methane Gas
- Capture escaping gas from coal mines
- Capture escaping gas from oil facilities
- Capture escaping emissions from natural gas facilities
- Reduce leakage from long-distance pipelines
- Prevent city landfill emissions
- Update wastewater treatment plants
- Aerate rice paddies more
- Limit emissions from manure on farms
Methane is colorless and flammable. Not only is it a majorly potent greenhouse gas adding to the climate change, methane is dangerous. In addition to typically being cast off of landfills as the trash is decaying slowly, methane is being emitted from the ocean floors and is trapped under the arctic ice.
As global warming increases and glacier ice melts, more methane will be released into our atmosphere. It's a harmful and constant cycle.
Conclusion: Not a Complete Solution
Will this solve global warming? No, but it will slow it down immensely. With such short atmospheric life spans black carbon and methane will be reducing their effects every year, carbon every day. Once under control scientists can figure out what to do with carbon dioxide. Growing hemp could help.
Hemp Could Help Solve Global Warming
Currently, the cultivation of hemp is illegal in the United States. To make a long story short, several powerful businessmen in the 1920s and 1930s saw hemp as a competitor to their multi-million dollar businesses and corrupted the country with massive propaganda. Fueled by lies and racism the country was misled into making it illegal, fearing it would create murderers and rapists. (Seriously.)
With the help of Harry Anslinger, at the time the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and congress the United States pushed their agenda across the globe in getting hemp banned. Unlike the alcohol prohibition that was ended, the hemp prohibition has continued for over 75 years.
Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields? – Henry Ford
Hopefully hemp will be allowed to grow in the United States again as it would be able to end our dependency on fossil fuels. It also takes in more than 4 times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to trees.
In essence the many benefits of hemp would transform global warming. Would it solve the problem? It's unsure, but this quickly growing plant would be a great way to start. We'd love to see what would happen.