Black Carbon, Bigger Climate Problem Than We Knew?

Human health and climate threatened by soot

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Black carbon, also known as soot, comes from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, and wood burning and is a significant contributor to global warming. Perhaps more significant than we realized, according to a new report.

Here’s an introduction to the problem.


The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that…

The evidence of mounting pollution by carbon particles in soot has been inadequately counted in international government debates over policies to cope with the warming problem, according to Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson, leader of the university’s Atmosphere and Energy program and a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

In a report to be published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Jacobson noted that soot particles—both black and brown carbon—come not only from burning fossil fuels in industry and transportation, but also from the immense quantities of wood and dung that are burned for heating and cooking throughout the developing world.

This would bump up black carbon/soot as an even worse contributor to climate change. Because soot acts like a black blanket on arctic snows, it would be considered THE major reason for rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic.

Soot emissions also account for at least 1.5 million premature deaths a year from respiratory illness, heart disease and asthma.

Earthjustice activists can learn more about this issue and take action to reduce black carbon emissions at home and abroad. We must encourage EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to continue cracking down on diesel and other dirty fuels, and encourage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make the U.S. a global leader on this issue.

An Earthjustice staff member from 1999 until 2015, Brian used outreach and partnership skills to cover many issues, including advocacy campaign efforts to promote a healthy ocean.