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Time To Confront A Major Climate Pollutant: Soot

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
01 February 2013, 4:43 PM
Arctic nations share unique responsibility for slowing ice melt
Reducing black carbon emissions will slow climate change now.
Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz /

As the environmental ministers of the Arctic nations, including the United States, meet in Sweden next week, they have an opportunity to show leadership on an important though less well-known climate pollutant, black carbon (soot).

While carbon dioxide remains the most important, long-lasting pollutant forcing climate change, recent studies have revealed that short-lived climate forcers like black carbon are equally damaging, especially in the Arctic.

Black carbon is a product of dirty, incomplete combustion. The largest sources are the burning of fossil fuels, agricultural fires, and residential heating and cooking with wood and coal. This pollution darkens the bright, reflective surfaces of ice and snow, accelerating warming and melting. Black carbon emissions from within and near the Arctic are even more potent climate forcers, and reducing those emissions will slow climate change now.

And that is why the meeting in Sweden is worth watching. Because the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with grave consequences for local biodiversity and cultures, and for low-lying communities around the world at risk from climate change. Arctic nations have a unique responsibility to show global leadership in reducing black carbon to slow regional warming and melting by taking action to reduce black carbon. Arctic nations, through their environment ministers, should send a strong signal that black carbon reductions are a priority for regional environmental protection.

Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal and Martin Williams, chair of the Executive Body of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, have dug into this issue in some depth with a new article. (The article reflects Martin Willams's personal views only, not any policy of the CLRTAP.)

They point to recent scientific findings that black carbon has recently been identified as having twice the climate impact than was previously understood and now ranks as second most important climate pollutant.

We have cleaner fuels and the know-how to reduce black carbon emissions right now, and we shouldn’t delay.

Update: Erika Rosenthal and Martin Williams's article was published in the February 5, 2013 edition of EcoWatch.

It’s a really great site you have here. Thank you for the effort to be so good for us (even though we don`t deserve it) and keep it up.
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"Anonymous" might want to check out the latest science on black carbon before "guessing" about its impact.

If you are not interested in reading the 232-page report, here is a summary.

"The big result that jumps off the page is that black carbon plays a much bigger role in global warming than many scientists previously thought. According to the new analysis, it is second only to carbon dioxide in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. The new estimate of black carbon’s heat-trapping power is about twice that made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007."

"This result suggests that cutting black carbon emissions could go a long way to slowing climate change. But the authors of the new study warn that we’ll need to be careful about the sort of black carbon we choose to cut. “There’s a significant potential, but you have to be very targeted,” said co-author Sarah Doherty of the University of Washington."


A REAL climate crisis needs certainty and clarity not another 27 years of a crisis only “might” happening. Science has never said it “will” happen. Not one IPCC warning is without “maybes”, not one! Science didn’t lie, media and politicians did.
You can’t have a “little tiny catastrophic” climate crisis so how close to the point of no return from complete unstoppable warming will science take us before they start saying the climate change will be imminent or impending or inevitable or certain or unavoidable or assured or guaranteed or even just “will happen” instead of their “might” and “could” happen.
“Help my house could be on fire maybe.” isn’t good enough to condemn our children and real planet lovers welcome the good news of “crisis” exaggeration.

Not enough soot (black caron) build up for large (world effect) low percentage, todate, My guess. Could it not possibly be because of the suns heightend activity (cycle), heat and radiation bursts aimed/bombarding earth, heating up atmosphere/waters/crust. And less pollution in atmosphere post wars, post industrial age, post oil field fires, post volcanic, etc... too block suns rays (slowing effect) hence, heating up the crust, direct sunlight, (damded if we do dambed if we don't). Also shifting poles, tilting on axes, change earths speed wobble as it revolves around the sun etc.... Soot probably a small factor, unless mass ejections, Over all, soot needs to be carbon dated and sourced to make your point true, todays soot. Todays soot 20th century is probably less. Majority of soot could be decades, centuries, millens old. From volcanic, world wars, oil patches on fire, 17/18/19 centuries before alternative fuel sources, regulations, better equipment. 2/3 world countries may need to be brought up to speed. And there is always room for inovation and improvement. But this will only possibility, buy us a few more decades unless the sun slows coronal bursts, But the suns cycles doesn't (heat/radiate) doesn't ramp up and down on decades cycles, and appears too be in a radiating cycle, many,many decades long. Maybe civilization should of been building into the earth instead of up. How do you like your toast, sootie.

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