Wood Smoke/Black Carbon Soot:A Major Cause of Global Warming

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Wood Smoke/Black Carbon Soot:A Major Cause of Global Warming

Postby Wilberforce » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:28 pm

Wood Smoke/Black Carbon Soot: A Major Cause of Global Warming


In the frenzied search for solutions to the global warming crisis, climatologists, policy makers
and other concerned environmentalists have overlooked one of the leading causes of rising
temperatures around the globe?soot---the black residue that coats fireplaces and darkens
vehicle exhaust. Black carbon soot may in fact be the second largest contributor to global
warming next to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.


According to Stanford environmental engineering Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, "Soot, or black
carbon, may be responsible for 15 to 30 percent of global warming, yet it is not even considered
in any of the discussions about controlling climate change." ('Nature', ScienceDaily, Feb. 9, 2001).
Jacobson also observed that human beings produce most of the soot particles that pollute the
atmosphere. He maintains that soot consists primarily of elemental carbon and that 90 percent
of it comes from the consumption of fossil fuels (particularly coal, diesel fuel, jet fuel, natural
gas, kerosene) and the burning of wood and other biomass. Jacobson also claims that a
worldwide reduction in soot emissions and controlling biomass burning could quell the alarming
pace of global warming and also reduce our reliance on soot-producing fuels.
( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 075206.htm.)


Besides its impact on global warming, soot is bad for your health. The World Health
Organization reports that approximately 2.7 million people die each year from air pollution and
that reduction of wood and other biomass burning would not only mitigate global warming but
would also save lives and improve people's health.


Other studies have dispelled the myth that burning wood and other biomass is "green or carbon
neutral" and that the fine particulates emitted during the combustion process actually hasten
climate change. (www.burningissues.org under both Science and Global Warming headings).


The warming effect of black carbon soot is far greater than previously estimated


Atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and University
of Iowa chemical engineer Greg Carmichael found that "black carbon soot, from burning wood
and other biomass, cooking with solid fuels, and diesel exhaust has a warming effect in the
atmosphere three to four times greater than prevailing estimates." (Nature Geoscience 1, 221-227
(March 24, 2008). They calculated that soot and other forms of black carbon particulates may
represent as much as 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide and their
findings correlated with similar studies from Stanford, Caltech, and NASA.


A simplified explanation for the warming effect is that wood smoke's fine particulates thin
clouds. And as total airborne particulates increase, cloud cover decreases, allowing more
sunlight to reach the earth. According to Ramanathan, approximately 35 percent of black
carbon in the global atmosphere comes from China and India. Yet per capita emissions of black
carbon soot from the United States and some European countries is still comparable to those
from Asia. Ramanathan's research also found that the warming effects of black carbon smog
appear to be accelerating the melt of Himalayan glaciers that provide drinking water to billions
of people throughout Asia.


The International Global Panel on Climate Change (IGPCC) agreed that black carbon soot is a
major contributor to global warming



The 2007 Nobel-winning IGPCC panel of approximately two thousand scientists concluded that
black carbon soot has a dire atmospheric warming effect. Ramanathan and Carmichael's data
supported an even more alarming conclusion: That black carbon soot has an atmospheric
warming effect three to four times greater than previously thought. This was significant
because soot had previously been unaddressed as a major contributor to global warming.
Nor had the amplification of black carbon's warming effect been taken into account when mixed
with other aerosols, creating additional secondary fine particulates.


Studies of fine particulates from wood smoke in various communities


An EPA study cites that "In some neighborhoods, on some days, 90% of the particle pollution
is from residential wood burning." (Jane Koenig and Timothy Larson, A Summary of Emissions
Characterization and Non-Cancer Respiratory Effects of Wood Smoke,
USEPA DOC #453/R-93-036,1-919-541-0888).


A study in two San Jose, California locations showed that wood smoke pollution was 4.4 times
that of gasoline or diesel fueled vehicles. ("A Comparison of Source Apportionments of Fine
Particulate Matter at Two San Jose, CA Locations," from San Jose Speciation Trends Network.)


The next step


Because the urgency of reducing black carbon emissions cannot be overstated, reducing soot
from wood smoke would offer nearly instant benefits in improving atmospheric conditions in
the United States. It would also offer immediate societal and health benefits. This would
facilitate political and regulatory momentum towards mitigation of black carbon emissions.


It is urgent to advance public awareness of wood smoke's crucial role in global warming with
education and policy changes.


For those interested in more scientific and educational data about wood smoke, see
www.burningissues.org. The Burning Issues site was founded in 1988 as a special particulate
pollution project of the Bay Area Loma Prieta/Silicon Valley Chapter of the Sierra Club.


__________________________


Julie Mellum


Occupation: Realtor, Coldwell Banker/Burnet, Minneapolis, Minnesota


W 612-924-4337


Midwest Director, Clean Air Revival


www.burningissues.org


Email: mellum.julie@gmail.com


Sierra Club member
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Postby turning_blue » Thu Oct 09, 2008 4:17 pm

Where did you find this? Julie's site?
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Postby Wilberforce » Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:58 pm

She sent it to me in an email and asked me to post it.
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Global warming and soot

Postby Ernest Grolimund » Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:00 pm

This is the best written article on carbon soot and global warming I have read. The high power scientific reference is great! Now we can quote the EPA, NASA, and this famous global warming study group. Thank you Woody and Julie. I know I will use this. Woody: copy to the global warming section where we have discussed this. It supports my theory. I was just guessing using my knowledge of absorbtion and emmission. This proves my theory, I think. The woodburners will probably argue like the critics of global warming in government and not accept this for 20 years but this is very good ammunition for those in government who want to argue for more action against global warming and especially wood burning as the burners are saying woodburning is good for warming and it is carbon nuetral.
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Re: Wood Smoke/Black Carbon Soot:A Major Cause of Global Warming

Postby Jamini » Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:43 am

I studied global warming at a top university in the early 1980's. I was taught - as Al Gore was taught in college - that temperatures are directly correlated with CO2 levels.

This essay will not address the question of whether global temperatures are rising, and if so, how much. Others have written extensively on that issue. This essay also will not look at questions of the percentage of climate change attributable to natural factors, such as variations in solar output, volcanic activity or El Niño (also called the "southern oscillation"). These are important issues, but this essay will not address them.

Finally, I am against big oil and big coal. As I have repeatedly argued, power should be taken away from the oil giants and decentralized. I have repeatedly argued for micro generation and for alternative energy. These things are beneficial for a number of reasons - including better health, less corruption of our political systems through decentralization of power, and a boost to our economy - in addition to whatever climate benefits they may have.
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Re: Wood Smoke/Black Carbon Soot:A Major Cause of Global Warming

Postby Jamini » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:16 am

The International Global Panel on Climate Change (IGPCC) agreed that black carbon soot is a major contributor to global warming

The 2007 Nobel-winning IGPCC panel of approximately two thousand scientists concluded that black carbon soot has a dire atmospheric warming effect. This was significant because soot had previously been unaddressed as a major contributor to global warming. Nor had the amplification of black carbon’s warming effect previously been taken into account when mixed with other aerosols, creating additional secondary fine particulates.
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