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The new US government Draft Climate Assessment released just last Friday gives the devastating news of a proposed 9-15 degree F increase in temperature in this century. So there is much urgency in immediate action.

Most actions for mitigating climate change and slowing global warming temperatures have relied on reducing C02 emissions.   C02 emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years,  so even if we went completely C02 neutral today, there would still be the damaging remains of the past use of C02 lingering in the atmosphere preventing us from stopping the most damaging effects of Climate Change. That is why the latest research has focused on finding solutions to climate change that will have a rapid effect on eliminating and slowing greenhouse gases.  

So today's release of a four year study by the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres on Black Carbon(soot) which is a short lived climate pollutant is added evidence that we have found a solution to mitigating the worst effects of climate change.


The four-year study by more than two dozen researchers also showed that black carbon causes “significantly higher warming” over the Arctic and can affect rainfall patterns in high- emitting regions such as Asia. The pollutant also has contributed to rising temperatures in mid- to high-latitude areas including the U.S. and Canada.

“The potential to slow warming by cutting black carbon is even more important than previously understood,” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, said today in a statement discussing the study. “It also kills over a million people every year who contract deadly respiratory diseases.”

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a group of more than two dozen nations that aims to reduce short-lived pollutants including methane, is pursuing projects that reduce black-carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicle engines, brick production, waste burning and inefficient cookstoves.

I've been writing about the necessity of reducing the short-lived climate pollutants of Black Carbon, Methane and Ground level ozone as reducing these pollutants buys us the time to reduce the much longer living C02.  It gives us a chance to slow warming almost immediately.  

The short-lived climate pollutants I've focused on include:

Methane, with a warming potential 72 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame, having a half-life of only 7 years.  The greatest scource of Methane is livestock

Black Carbon , an intense heating agent in the air and particularly when on ice and snow.  Black carbon emissions are responsible for as much as 40% of the net global warming   However, they remain in the atmosphere from only one to four weeks . Greatest scource of Black carbon is anthropologic open fire set to clear forest and land for pasture and crop growth for animal feed.

Ground level ozone is another substantial greenhouse gas with an estimated warming impact equal to about 20 percent of that of carbon dioxide . It stays in the atmosphere for approximately 20 days, is a contributor to smog and is a health concern.  Best controlled by reducing Methane

Researchers are definitely on the right track to a rapid solution for the most devastating effects of climate warming but they have given little notice to the elephant in the room.  And that is that the greatest source of the short-lived climate pollutants is livestock production.

And why aren't policy makers shouting this rapid, low cost solution to saving the planet?  You guessed it, it's industrial agriculture.  They like things just the way they are, thank you very much.  You think the fossil fuel industry is evil personified?  I agree.  But, there is another evil doer on the planet and that is industrial agriculture.  Just like the fossil fuel industry, industrial agriculture is concerned only for the bottom line.  Just like the fossil fuel industry they grease the palms of politicians and buy their votes to continue the subsidies which are destroying our food supply and has made their industry one of the greatest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet.  Their marketing of unhealthy food products has driven our population to extreme chronic health problems and made the US health system the most costly on the planet.  

So we have an opportunity to mitigate the worst effects of climate change that is rapid, safe and low cost.  And that is a rapid reduction of meat consumption.  The window of opportunity we have won't last very long.  

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.

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