13 Jan 2012:
Reducing Methane and Soot
Will Reduce Warming, Study Says
An international team of scientists says that governments can significantly reduce global warming, and prevent millions of premature deaths, by targeting emissions of methane and soot
. In a new study published in the journal Science
, the researchers say simple strategies that target those emissions and use existing technologies could shave nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit off the warming projected by mid-century. And with international efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change, largely stalled, it represents a cheaper and more attainable approach. Strategies to reduce methane emissions include improving methods of capturing gas from mines and oil- and gas-producing facilities and reducing leaks from pipelines and landfills; global levels of soot, or black carbon, can be cut by requiring more efficient filters for diesel vehicles, developing cleaner-burning cook stoves and imposing bans on burning agricultural land. Such measures would prevent 700,000 to 4.7 million air pollution-related deaths per year, the study says. “Ultimately, we have to deal with CO2, but in the short term, dealing with these pollutants is more doable, and it brings fast benefits,” said Drew Shindell, the lead author and researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.