Photo Credit: www.scrippsnews.ucsd.edu
A new study has revealed that the rate of global warming could be reduced if we were to cut two common pollutants.
The study states that instead of focusing on reducing carbon dioxide levels, we should instead be trying to reduce the levels of methane and soot from industrial and farming processes. By cutting these two pollutants with existing technologies, one degree Fahrenheit could be shaved off of the warming projected to occur 2050. These cuts could also lower premature death rates from air pollution between 700,000 to 4.7 million people, as well as boost the yields of crops by 30 to 135 million metric tons.
Methane, which is a flammable constituent of natural gas and natural byproduct of decay and digestion processes, is similar to CO2. However, it’s much more potent and can mix with other gases to create ground-level ozone, which damages crops and humans. Soot, which is also known as black carbon, comes from the incomplete combustion of wood, dung, coal, and other fuels. This will absorb radiation from the sun, which warms the air when it’s afloat and warms the land when it alights there.
The best ways we can reduce methane would be to capture the gas as it escapes from coal mines and other facilities, reducing leakage from pipelines, preventing the emissions from landfills, updating wastewater treatment plants, draining rice paddies more frequently, and limiting emissions from farms. With soot, we can reduce the emissions levels by installing filters on diesel vehicles, preventing the production of the worst-polluting vehicles and getting them off the road, upgrading family stoves with cleaner-burning models, building more efficient brick boilers and ovens, and banning the burning of agricultural lands, which is now popular in most tropic places.
By reducing both methane and soot levels, other areas would be positively affected as well. Areas with large amounts of snow and ice would be helped since soot often melts and exposes underlying ground much more quickly, while areas in the Middle East would see improvement in their crops due to lower methane emissions.