Black carbon, or more colloquially known as soot, is getting a second look from environmental researchers and scientists about its contribution to global warming. Experts are now saying that soot is more of a danger than previously thought, and has approximately two-thirds of the warming effect of carbon dioxide, which is the largest synthetic contributor to global warming currently.
The observation comes from a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, and notes that black carbon is said to have a warming effect of around 1.1 watts per square meter, and has a greater impact on global warming than methane. While this may seem like alarming news, not all hope is lost.
Professor Piers Forster from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, and one of the authors of the study, says that there are steps that we can take to reduce the output of soot, "reducing emissions from diesel engines and domestic wood and coal fires" is probably the most popular way of going about it.
Forster notes that "if we did everything we could to reduce these emissions, we could buy ourselves up to half a degree less warming -- or a couple of decades of respite." Large amounts of soot seep into the atmosphere every year, with about 7.5 million tons just in 2000 alone. Diesel engines account for around 70% of emissions in North America, Europe, and Latin America, while residential fires account for 60% to 80% of emissions in Asia and Africa.
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