An easier way to curb global warming



A new study published in the journal Science says, slashing emissions of two short-term pollutants - methane and soot, also known as black carbon - would be beneficial to the climate, human health and agriculture.

The climate debate has, up until now, been primarily focused on reducing carbon dioxide. This new analysis looks at the effects of 400 policy measures and determined that just 14 simple and inexpensive interventions would slow global warming, save millions of lives and boost crop production around the world.

The policy actions prescribed included eliminating wood-burning stoves, dampening emissions from diesel vehicles and capturing methane released from coal mines. The simulations predicted that significant reduction of methane emissions and soot could slow global warming by almost one degree Fahrenheit by the middle of the century.

The scientists also predicted that better air quality would prevent lung and cardiovascular diseases, saving anywhere from 700,000 to 4.7 million lives annually, and global crop yields would rise, by 30 to 135 metric tons annually, as rice, corn, wheat and soybean plants would have an easier time absorbing the nutrients they need from the air.

Some studies have suggested that the footprint of shale gas to be greater than that of coal, oil or conventional gas. Methane emissions make up most of this footprint.Methane comes from landfills, farms, drilling for natural gas, and coal mining. A major source of methane emissions is shale gas extraction. Shale gas is extracted by the process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Overall, the life cycle estimated losses of methane emissions from a typical shale gas well amount to 3.6 to 7.9% of the total amount of gas produced by the well.

The study recommends capturing methane from landfills and coal mines and for policymakers the capture of fugitive methane emissions from the increasing number of fracking sites should be a priority.

Carbon Confusion: What's Next for Global Climate Policy?

With no significant successor to the Kyoto Protocol in sight and a lack of coordinated climate policies in North America, what can be expected in the future in terms of compliance and pre-compliance schemes, national and sub-national frameworks, and regulatory approaches for managing greenhouse gas emissions? At GLOBE 2012 - March 14-16, 2012 - policy experts and other climate and energy leaders will provide an update on global climate policy and measures that can be taken to reduce emissions immediately. For more information, check here.

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