Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Black Carbon to the Climate Change Rescue?

May 6th, 2009
In Guardian, "US climate change denier James Inhofe joins Al Gore in fight against soot", and his interest stems from the horrors of the impact of the black carbon on the poor families in Africa, while he still doesn't buy the idea of GHGs causing climate change.

This U-turn has anything to due to the fact that the new found science shifts the "climate change targets" and primary focus of the discussions to the poor stove users of Asia and Africa?


April 16th, 2009
An interesting article in the New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal, "Third World Stove Soot is Target in Climate Fight", discusses the possibility of reducing a bulk of the current global warming potential by going after the soot (aka. black carbon) from the stoves in Asia and Africa.

The science behind the potential of black carbon in reducing the global warming and its immediate effects on the local health (primarily the Women and Children, via indoor air pollution in Asia and Africa, and partly to the outdoor air pollution) are unquestionable.

But, two points in the article,
1. In Asia and Africa, cookstoves produce the bulk of black carbon, although it also emanates from diesel engines and coal plants there. In the United States and Europe, black carbon emissions have already been reduced significantly by filters and scrubbers.

2. While carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures, scientists say, black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide.

are questionable.

By claiming, 18% of the impact is from black carbon, and the majority is coming from Asia and Africa (see image posted on NYT above), sounds like the "blame game" in play, and downplaying all the diesel and coal use of the developed nations. How about the underestimation of the ship emissions (revised regulations by IMO)?

The figure below from Bond et al., (2004) depicts 1996 global black carbon emissions inventory from contained burning. When overlapped with population, the map makes sense, which is not the case for a similar CO2 emissions inventory map.

Yes for the climate change and making a case for it is important and is scientific, but at the end of the day, reducing black carbon in the rural sector will benefit the public health and it SHOULD remain the PRIMARY indicator, as rightly concluded by Dr. Ramanathan at the end of the article.

While the solar programs are innovative and clean (from black carbon), why isn't there a similar focus on the proven technologies, like scaling up of the LPG supply for the rural sector? The article talks about the pilots and testing of stove designs in the rural India, but isn't it about time that we have learnt enough to know what has worked in the past (see the web archive of information on the stoves using biomass fuels for the developing regions) and what will benefit the most and fast?

Some additional links to the data and articles on Black Carbon:

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