In addition to burning fossil fuels and cookstoves, industrial processes such as brick production are also important sources of black carbon emissions. Photo: jerseyshowaa/Creative Commons.
A new UNEP report highlights what a growing body of research shows is an overlooked and powerful contributor to global warming: black carbon soot. Emitted by burning fossil fuels, in industrial processes, and when wood and other biomass is burned, often in smoky cookstoves in poorer nations, black carbon not only warms the air but when it falls on glaciers accelerates melting. The good news is that it's very short-lived in the atmosphere and the ways to stop it are far less complex (if not exactly simple) than stopping carbon, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. And as the report notes, the effects of cutting black carbon could be dramatic.As The Guardian notes,
Preventing 'black carbon'...from polluting the air would help to cut global warming by as much as 0.5°C and reduce warming in the Arctic by about two thirds by 2030.
What's more, if the recommendations in the UNEP report are fully implemented, 2.4 million premature deaths could be avoided each year--that's due to anoother effect of soot, creating all sorts of respiratory problems when people breathe it in regularly.
There's a population growth connection in that: There's a correlation between life expectancy of children and having more of them. If you're pretty sure that, barring accident, your children are going to live to adulthood families tend to have fewer of them.
Not only that by a reduction of black carbon could boost wheat, rice and soybean yields 1-4% annually--another population benefit.
TreeHugger has covered the issue of black carbon pretty extensively, so check out the links below and in the archive if the importance of this is lost on you.
Here's the report summary of decision makers itself: Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone
More on Black Carbon:
Black Carbon Pollution From Fossil Fuels Causes Twice the Warming As Burning Biomass
90% of Himalayan Glacier Melting Caused by Aerosols & Black Carbon