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Big Week for Black Carbon

Black carbon is the sooty, particulate pollution that reaches deep into your lungs and causes asthma and other respiratory and heart diseases.

Black carbon also plays a major role in global warming—second to only carbon dioxide.

Here’s a great introduction to black carbon that may spur you to action, and even make you smile.

Termed a “short-lived climate pollutant” because it only stays in the atmosphere for days or weeks (unlike CO2 which sticks around for 100 years or more) reducing soot is one of the most effective ways of addressing global warming. That’s why this noxious air pollutant will be receiving some attention this week.

Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, chaired by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), looked at the effects of black carbon on both public health and climate change. Unlike many recent hearings on Capitol Hill, this panel addressed practical, cost-effective solutions to the problem like providing incentives to reduce emissions from diesel engines.

On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release the report of one of its 5th assessment report on climate change on the physical basis of climate change. Over the next 12 months, the IPCC will issue a total of three reports, as well as an overall summary for decision makers to be released in October 2014.

The IPCC Working Group 1 assesses the physical science basis of climate change and climate systems and it is expected to confirm with even greater certainty many of the conclusions and projections included in their last report. The Working Group 1 report addresses both gases and aerosols like black carbon.

Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal says:

The latest science on both the global and regional warming and melting effects of black carbon emissions—which are especially acute in the Arctic and other areas of ice and snow—should help spur faster action to reduce emissions. Reductions of black carbon, methane and other short-lived climate pollutants are critical to slow warming in the near-term and slow the rate of ice melt that contributes to sea level rise.

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