back to article Soot, hydrofluorocarbs 'low-hanging fruit' to fight warming

Government-funded boffins in the USA say that "low-hanging fruit" plans to tackle climate change must be considered alongside CO2 reductions: in particular they say that emissions of black soot and shortlived greenhouse gases must be tackled in order to offset the warming caused by clean-air regulations. Veerabhadran …


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  1. Yesnomaybe

    Bit warmer please

    If we are over-due a slide into the next ice-age, shouldn't we crank the heat UP, not down?

    1. Jared Vanderbilt
      Paris Hilton

      The cooling effect of sulfate aerosols is local and temporary...

      The aerosols dissipate somewhat quickly. Their cooling effect is negligible.

      Reducing black soot puts a disproportionate burden on third world countries, which is very attractive to those of us who drive a 2.5 ton SUV to fetch the Starsmuchs every morning (and fear an uprising by the huddled masses.)

      Wouldn't it be cheaper to just exterminate the wretched refuse who can't afford air conditioning?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Win Win but stone hugging zealots might be saddened?

    No doubt an improvement in the efficiency of combustion devices to remove soot content would result in the burning of less total fuel for a given end result. Not only would this reduce the soot it would also improve the level of CO2 output as well, perhaps by a small amount but heck anything that goes the right way is a good contribution.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    All well and good

    but isn't the reality that we should be doing all we can to reduce all pollution.

    As a species we live on this little globe, breath it's atmosphere, eat what grows on it and if we don't look after the whole thing are going to be deep in the sh*t sooner rather than later?

    Most of the problems seem to be linked to the fact that there are too many of us, consuming too much stuff and we seriously need to get a grip on that before there is nothing left to consume.

    Not sure leaving is going to be an option but I'll get the coat anyway!

    1. Naughtyhorse
      Thumb Up


      That is the human condition,

      our crap expands to fill the available space.

      The history of human expansion can be directly linked to the efficiency with which we gather up our shit and how far away we can throw it.

      the tone of the arguement is entrley consistent with this. Oh look we just found a bandaid we can put on soot to avoid the chemotherapy required to treat the cancer of CO2 .

      never mind at least the incoming lib dem government will actually DO something about CO2


      PS what ws the down count on yesterdays post lewis?? did it top 500

      1. Anonymous Coward


        "... to treat the cancer of CO2"

        If you love the planet and truly believe CO2 is a cancer, there really is only 1 logical course of action for you - go top yourself! Remember your body is a CO2 factory (basic high school biology - your body uses oxygen to unlock energy and creates CO2 as a byproduct).

        If you don't find this course of action palatable, then you either a) don't care that much about the planet or b) don't really believe CO2 is actually a pollutant and just want to be part of the populist bandwagon. Either way your a hypocrite.

        Focusing on soot (which is - in case you missed it - the real cause of glaciers receding and the reduced ice flows in the Arctic) and all the other TOXIC pollutants messing up our environment will have a much greater impact on saving the environment in the long term than caring how much CO2 there is in the atmosphere.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          How you ever going to learn anything when you know it all to start with?

          do a bit of research on soot. (i'll give you a clue, consider the ratio of volume to surface area)

          then tell me it's not yet another smoke screen by the pro fossilf fuel loby to deflect action on CO2.

          also, had you even done an IQ test you would have recognised the form

          a is to 65 as q is to 81

          and understood the point

          1. Anonymous Coward


            Where did I say I was pro fossil fuel?

            It's the burning of fossil fuels that is responsible for most of the soot and toxic chemicals that are killing the planet.

            Just because I don't subscribe to the whole AGW/CO2 lobbies agenda doesn't mean I subscribe to the pro fossil fuel agenda. I know it might seem strange to you, but I like to think for myself rather than just accepting and promoting whatever is currently in fashion.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other Greenhouse Gasses?

    One short lived greenhouse gas is water vapour, but the greens seem to be dead keen on using hydrogen fuel cell which produce water vapour as exhaust. The funniest thing about this is that every article and TV program in favour of these fuel cells that I have seen has used the word "harmless" when referring to these emissions.

    No I don't have a ready made solution. That ain't my job. I will happilly admit that the whole climate change issue is massively complex and there are no simple solutions. As yet I have seen no hard evidence that we are contributing significantly to global warming, but I don't believe (as some do) that this means we shouldn't do anything. If there is a chance that some of the things we do contribute significantly to global warming then let's stop doing them, unless there is evidence that to do so will cause more harm.

    What I do have a problem with is that the green lobby like to tell us they have all the answers when almost every day some new story shows us how little they really know.

    Let's listen to the scientists (preferably ones who seem to be independent of political influence) and let's stop listening to politicians and lobbyists.

    1. Chemist

      Re : Other Greenhouse Gasses?

      I think the point about water vapour is that it's broadly in equilibrium with the massive amount of liquid water that's around naturally whereas increasing CO2 from 300 ppm to 450 ppm or whatever is a large change.

      (There's certainly a lot around naturally where I live at the moment)

    2. Simon Neill

      Water Vapour.

      Should be easy enough to capture and condense said into harmless water. Dryers all do it these days. Could even direct it into the screenwash tank and make use of it.

    3. dr2chase

      Might not hurt to do a math check

      Suppose, broadly, we do a 1-1 swap of water vapor for CO2, how much does that change the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere? So (broadly ignoring residence time issues), add 100ppm of water vapor to the gasses already in the atmosphere.

      But the atmosphere is already (says Wikipedia) "as much as" 2% water vapor. Call it 1%, since we're being sloppy. That's 10000 ppm. So, adding 100ppm, is not a large difference. This is likely to have little or no effect on the climate, though urban microclimates might get a tad muggy. Don't forget, in combustion of gasoline (8-ane to 10-ane, I think) that there's already a good slug of water in the combustion -- decane is 10 carbons, 22 hydrogens.

      1. Chemist

        Re : Might not hurt to do a math check

        Certainly burning 114g of octane will yield 352 g CO2 and 162 g water but as I mentioned already liquid water is in equilibrium with vapour so outputting 'more' isn't going to make any difference to the average level

    4. Mat Ballard

      Ignorance is bliss

      Ignorance is bliss, isn't it ?

      Even a rudimentary search on the effect of water vapour would show you that it has a residence time in the atmosphere of about 5 days - at which point it turns into rain somewhere. So adding more water vapour to the atmosphere is literally pissing in the wind - and has as just as little effect.

      In contrast, CO2 stays in the atmosphere and biosphere for several tens of thousand of years :(

      And a slightly bigger search would show you that decline in the ratio of atmospheric CO2 13C:12C is due to the burning of (13C depleted) fossil fuels. Yes folks, that's our CO2 piling up there!

      And what did Arrhenius work out 100 years ago? CO2 absorbs infra-red radiation (heat), so adding more CO2 to the atmosphere causes it to heat up, by absorbing more of the the infra-red radiated by the earth's surface.

      And that's what's been seen in the three surface temperature data sets (GISSTemp, HadCRUt and NCDC), and the satellite data.

      This isn't rocket science. The only complicated part is calculating exactly what the temperature rise will be, and how fast, for a given CO2 concentration. And guess what: the calculations (models) match up very well with the observed temperature changes, even after events like volcanic eruptions.

      In particular, the "smoking gun" for many scientists is that models successfully predicted both the rise in surface air temperature and the *decline* in stratospheric air temperatures. No other proposed cause of global warming leads to a *decline* in stratosphere temperatures.

      ps: the emissions from a hydrogen "fuel" cell (water vapour) are in fact harmless - but the emissions from making the hydrogen in the first place are not !

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Bit warmer please.

    No. Put a jumper on you selfish SOB, I'm not sitting here in my skivvies just 'cos you like it warm.

    Pace: Office arguments over the thermostat setting passim ad infinitum. Anyone know why the girlies reckon anything lower than "noon on midsummer's day in Death Valley" qualifies as "bloody freezing in here"?

  6. Funkster

    Only badly-adjusted diesels? Don't think so...

    As far as I can tell, brand new diesels from prestigious manufacturers are still allowed to belch out huge clouds of black whenever they feel like it. The sooner emissions laws for diesels are tightened to match those of petrol engines, the better it will be for everyone (diesel exhaust is seriously toxic compared to petrol, and they're proliferating...).

    Remember kids, Diesel Kills!

    1. phoenix

      @ Funkster

      Agreed diesels are nasty pieces of work. They produce particles in the PM10 and below (Particulate matter at 10 microns) these soots will go deep into the aveolea (very tiny air sacks at the farthest depths of the lungs) and can stay to have a causative carcinogenic effect. And you thought smoking was a bad idea!!

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Is that in America or Europe as well.

      Europe tends to be a bit stricter in this stuff.

  7. Eddy Ito

    Why it will never happen

    There isn't enough money in it and it tends to be a bit more work than advertised. Add in the fact that, as most people probably won't notice, it doesn't really enhance one's "green cred" and you have a "perfect storm" making "low hanging fruit" a rather "bitter pill" without government "assistance" of some form... but probably another.

  8. Mike Richards Silver badge


    There's also a good reason to cut it back - it kills people.

    Indoor particulate emissions are a serious health threat to people who rely on wood, dung or charcoal for their primary source of energy; and those of us in the developed world don't get off lightly - the sort of tiny particles pumped out by diesel engines are linked to various cancers.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Diesel or maybe Die Sel

    Nice Wiki article read the bit about Diesel particles actually being small enough to be absorbed into the blood stream

    I blame this on the greenies with there obsession over CO2. Paraphrasing "there are more dodgy things in heaven and earth than your greenhouse gases Horatio"

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Available technology could do a lot of this

    It's estimated half the world's population cook using very *low* efficiency (c6%) stoves burning, wood, coal, dung. Better stove designs exist which can up this 5x (to 30%).

    The fumes and smoke kill an estimated 4-5million children a year.

    Shifting to a shared biogas system gives clean heating, cooking and lighting (gas mantles may not be very high tech in the developed world but they are pretty effective if you've no infrastructure for *any* electricity and AFAIK last quite a long time).

    Getting people to go with this is another matter.

  11. scatter

    Care to provide a reference?

    "Many greens don't want it discussed" ..."This usually angers the harder-green lobby, who tend to see such a plan as merely postponing the problem."

  12. scatter

    I just ask because…

    ...a cursory search brings up:

    “A broad coalition of more than 300 faith, human rights, social justice, and environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, has composed and sent a letter to U.S. senators calling for energy and climate legislation…[which] must include immediate action on short-lived global warming pollutants, including black carbon and methane, to slow warming in the near term.”

    “Countries must actively look for additional policies and measures where international cooperation could bring added value and deliver additional emission reductions. One of the obvious candidates for coordinated action is black carbon... Its full climate impacts are still poorly known…The good news is that addressing black carbon would be relatively easy and cheap and it would have quick impacts.

    Just two examples I know but…

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