Green Car Congress  
Go to GCC Discussions forum About GCC Contact  RSS Subscribe Twitter headlines

« Biogas Climate Benefit Greater Than Previously Thought | Main | Balqon Expands Heavy-Duty Electric Truck Distribution into Argentina »

Print this post

Study Finds On-Road Transportation Sector the Greatest Net Contributor to Atmospheric Warming Now and in Mid-Term; Power Sector Takes the Lead by 2050

19 February 2010

Nasaunger1
Radiative forcing due to perpetual constant year 2000 emissions grouped by sector for 2020 (left) and 2100 (right) showing the contribution from each species. The net sum of total radiative forcing is indicated by the title of each bar. From Unger et al., PNAS. Click to enlarge.

A new study by led by Nadine Unger at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) that analyzes the net climate impacts of emissions from economic sectors rather than by individual chemical species has found that on-road transportatation is and will be the greatest net contributor to atmospheric warming now and in the near term. The open access paper was published online 3 February in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cars, buses, and trucks release pollutants and greenhouse gases that promote warming, while emitting few aerosols that counteract it. In contrast, the industrial and power sectors release many of the same gases—with a larger contribution to radiative forcing—but they also emit sulfates and other aerosols that cause cooling by reflecting light and altering clouds.

“We wanted to provide the information in a way that would be more helpful for policy makers. This approach will make it easier to identify sectors for which emission reductions will be most beneficial for climate and those which may produce unintended consequences.”
—Nadine Unger

Unger et al. used a climate model to analyze the effects of a wide range of chemical species, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, organic carbon, black carbon, nitrate, sulfate, and ozone, from 13 sectors of the economy from 2000 to 2100. They based their calculations on real-world inventories of emissions collected by scientists around the world, and they assumed that those emissions would stay relatively constant in the future.

In their analysis, motor vehicles emerged as the greatest net contributor to atmospheric warming now and in the near term, with a total radiative forcing of 199 mWm-2 in 2020. The researchers found that the burning of household biofuels—primarily wood and animal dung for home heating and cooking—contribute the second most warming. And raising livestock, particularly methane-producing cattle, contribute the third most.

The industrial sector releases such a high proportion of sulfates and other cooling aerosols that it actually contributes a significant amount of cooling to the system. And biomass burning—which occurs mainly as a result of tropical forest fires, deforestation, savannah and shrub fires—emits large amounts of organic carbon particles that block solar radiation.

Due to the health problems caused by aerosols, many developed countries have been reducing aerosol emissions by industry. But such efforts are also eliminating some of the cooling effect of such pollution, eliminating a form of inadvertent geoengineering that has likely counteracted global warming in recent decades.

“Targeting on-road transportation is a win-win-win. It’s good for the climate in the short term and long term, and it’s good for our health.”
—Nadine Unger

By 2050, electric power generation overtakes road transportation as the biggest promoter of warming, according to the study. By the year 2100, the study’s projections suggest that power maintains the lead spot with radiative forcing of 554 mWm-2, followed by on-road transportation at 417 mWm-2, and then the industrial sector with 283 mWm-2.

The team also considered how emissions from each part of the economy can impact clouds, which have an indirect effect on climate. Some aerosols, particularly sulfates and organic carbon, can make clouds brighter and cause them to last longer, producing a cooling effect. At the same time, one type of aerosol called black carbon, or soot, actually absorbs incoming solar radiation, heats the atmosphere, and drives the evaporation of low-level clouds. This process, called the semi-direct aerosol effect, has a warming impact.

The new analysis shows that emissions from the power, biomass burning, and industrial sectors of the economy promote aerosol-cloud interactions that exert a powerful cooling effect, while on-road transportation and household biofuels exacerbate cloud-related warming.

The new analysis offers policy makers and the public a far more detailed and comprehensive understanding of how to mitigate climate change most effectively, Unger and colleagues assert.

If the policy goal is to achieve rapid and immediate reduction anthropogenic RF {radiative forcing], then effective opportunities lie in reducing emissions from the on-road transportation, household biofuel, and animal husbandry sectors. The on-road transportation total RF is fairly robust with uncertainty in the range 20-40% whereas uncertainties are higher for household biofuel (~160%) and animal husbandry (~90%). Reducing emissions from the on-road transportation sector is particularly attractive because this action yields both rapid and longer-term climate benefits.

Newly emerging public health research indicates that traffic-related particulate matter is more toxic than inorganic components like sulfate and nitrate from the power sector so reducing emissions from on-road transportation has additional benefits for human health.

In order to protect the Earth’s climate in the longer-term and tackle concerns about climate change toward the end of this century, then emphasis must be placed on reducing emissions from the power and industry sectors consistent with other findings. Total power RF is more robust than for industry (~50-70% versus ~40-120%). Caution must be taken in reducing emissions from the industry sector since this action will considerably accelerate near-term warming. A similar situation would occur for reducing emissions from biomass burning consistent with previous analyses of this sector.

—Unger et al.

Co-authors of the paper are Dorothy Koch, Drew Shindell and Susanne Bauer of GISS; Tami Bond of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; James Wang from the Environmental Defense Fund; and Surabi Menon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

(A hat-tip to Tom!)

Resources

  • Unger, N., T.C. Bond, J.S. Wang, D.M. Koch, S. Menon, D.T. Shindell, and S. Bauer (2010) Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., in press, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0906548107

February 19, 2010 in Climate Change, Emissions, Policy | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4fbe53ef0120a8b6969a970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Study Finds On-Road Transportation Sector the Greatest Net Contributor to Atmospheric Warming Now and in Mid-Term; Power Sector Takes the Lead by 2050:

Comments

.

Oh, look! The "study" was done by a government agency who's self-interest is to come up with these results in order to get more funding!

And people shriek when "Big Oil" pays for a "study"...

Enormous tax increases, drastic loss of freedom, and an ever larger, incompetent, government bureaucracies are not the answers to Earth's naturally changing climate cycles.

Besides, Professor Phil Jones (see the UEA scandal) just verified to the BBC that Earth's temperature has not statistically increased in the past fifteen years - as CO2 emissions have increased quite a bit. Is Professor Jones lying?

.

Goracle, if you are aware of a peer-reviewed study published in a refereed science journal that contradicts the conclusions of this one, produce it!

Your nonsensical diatribes provide evidence of nothing.

Another good case for cellulose E85/M85 and all new cars being FFV. Good for the air, climate, trade imbalance and national energy security.

GISS is at the heart of the CAGW religion, and astronomer Hansen is the Profit.

This conglomeration of half truths, speculations, and useless drivel is as valid as believing the PR of the Popes in 1000 AD regarding Muslims. I would rather believe the 'Truths' of Al Queda regarding Israel than this pile of religious, nouveau-Druid cant.

For a simple example, if we want to cut Methane emissions, then we can reasonably infer the necessity of killing all the ruminants in the Serengeti is revealed as nouveau-Druid religious dogma.

We can also reasonably infer the need to drill and tap all the pockets of CH4 in the world. We would then remove some and presumably burn it. That will reduce the leakage pressure, in these reservoirs, and reduce natural seepage releases into the atmosphere. We can take this as revealed nouveau-Druid dogma.

Do you want some more?

We can reasonably infer the need for a mass kill-off of the reindeer herd in ANWAR to reduce GHG CH4 emissions. Once gone, we can then drill for Oil there, without concern. This is revealed as nouveau-Druid dogma.

It is reasonable to infer the need of all Druid true-believers ceasing to exhale CO2. That would reduce CO2 emissions, either vastly or negligibly, depending on how many true-believers there are. Like Jonestown, Mr. Gore and His Profit at GISS, could lead a global die-in. I would even concede to offer to have the government, finance his cup of Hemlock for all. Since he won't do anything without a government subsidy. This is also revealed as nouveau-Druid dogma.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.


Aside from the sarcasm and satire, that I posted previously.

It is really wonderful that they can produce the forcing in 2099, accurately today, to the third significant figure.

Last time I looked, the Patron Saint of Warmist radiation theory, Dr. Kevin Trendberth admits he can't get the radiation balance correct to first significant figure, today. So if his current estimates, by ERBE satellite confirmation in the seminal paper of 2009, that of (Lindzen, Choi 2009) showed Trendbert's estimates are in error by 4 watts/m**, why do we believe that he can do it accurately today, to the third significant figure, for 100 years from now?

Reality: He can't. This entire post is then utter drivel.

There is no higher CAGW True-believer than Dr. Trendbert; but he is famous for his religious crisis, expressing his crisis in religious Druid faith. Paraphrased: "Our science say the temperature should be climbing not falling. 'Its a Travesty...'"

Both the lunatic crybabies on this thread are now arguing strictly from consequence: TAXES! FREE-DOHM! JONESTOWN! KILL THE RUMINANTS! DRINK HEMLOCK! STOP BREATHING! The more hysterical the faux outrage, the closer we know we're getting to the actual facts. Now, now, boys, it's time to change your Depends and get back to that Tea Party. The rest of us have work to do.

.

storky, are you referring to the papers that were blocked from being peer-reviewed, as the UEA emails described? Produce those peer-reviewed papers? The peer-reviewed papers that the "climate scientists" did not allow to be peer-reviewed?

Your nonsensical diatribes provide evidence of nothing.

.

.

Sean Prophet said: TAXES! FREE-DOHM! JONESTOWN! KILL THE RUMINANTS! DRINK HEMLOCK! STOP BREATHING! The more hysterical the faux outrage ... Now, now, boys, it's time to change your Depends and get back to that Tea Party.

That was quite the hysterical faux outrage that you just posted. Not that you should ever follow your own advice.

.

Goracle:

How about a very low (1/4 to 1/2 of 1%) Tobin-Goracle transaction tax to create a multi trillion dollars fund to pay for the current and next Wall Street disasters.

This would avoid having to use $2+T of public money to pull them out of their next bubble between 2020 and 2030.

Surplus, if any could be used to reduce the huge USA debt and/or refund the trillions borrowed from China and Japan.

Speculators would contribute to the country's economy instead of continuously draining it.

Harvey D,

I'm still waiting for the Wall Street indictments. isn't it strange there hasn't been any? We know who the thieves were. Franklin Raines, Democratic appratchik appointed to be CEO of Fannie Mae, who looted it for 90 million.

Jim 'Tim' Johnson, Democratic apparatchik appointed to be the CEO of Freddie Mac, who looted it for only 60 million.

Jamie Gorelick Democrat apparatchik, and Clinton advisor famous for building the 'wall' between the CIA and FBI from exchanging information, so that 9/11 could occur, who got appointed CEO of Lehman Brothers.

These were the first three Wall Street firms to fail, precipitating the financial crash. The modus operandi for these thieves was to call on other Wall street firms, to purchase their freshly printed, 'derivatives' securities. If a Bank or Insurance company balked, about spending good money on toilet paper, they were gently reminded that they would be sent a summons, to appear before Senator Dudd and/or Congresswoman Barney Frank. While talk of monopoly and anti-trust proceedings, or even criminal indictments, for not following the Housing statutes, filled the air.

The companies quickly caved, and signed up to buy lots of this zero-value, toilet paper, hot off the presses, without the ink even dry. Where are these gangsters now and why can't we find them?

Because they are not hiding; but are safely ensconced on the White House staff serving as presidential 'Advisors'. After donating a paltry million for protection, to the Clueless One's presidential campaign.

Don't speak of Wall Street. These thieves learned their trade on K Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

They do state uncertainties, but in a cryptic way:

"The on-road transportation total RF is fairly robust with uncertainty in the range 20-40% whereas uncertainties are higher for household biofuel (~160%) and animal husbandry (~90%)."

I wish they would just show error bars on their graphs.

And, yes, someone should explain the concept of significant figures to them.

Of course, if they did these things their results would look like the wild ass guesses that they are.

Additionally, someone should explain to them that you only get to optimize for one thing at a time. Without adding cost, you can either produce less CO2 (with a diesel engine) or you can reduce every other emission (with a petrol engine). So, your choices are lower CO2 or decreased urban health issues. You can't get both without adding cost.

Stan:

You stated many very good reasons why variable rate progressive Tobin +++ transaction and bonus taxes should be introduced soonest to create an anti-speculators fund. The Fed could manage such fund using imposed conditions such as:

1) pay back all the $BBB + 10% to the Treasury.

2) Accummulate a $2T fund for future use to bail them out.

3) From surpluses, contribute up to $1T/year to reduce the National Debt.

Speculators and embezzlers must contribute possitively to the economic well being of the nation.

Goracle,

Falsification of a claim requires evidence to the contrary. Where is your contrary data?

From BBC interview with topmost poobah and past chief of yarn at U of East Anglia's venerated Climatic Research Unit:

BBC: "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?"

JONES: "Yes. But only just."

From this point on alarmists attempt to explain why statistical measure, a foundation of science, is too complicated for newspaper people, weathermen, non climate scientists, and of course YOU, the unwashed. i.e. Why "Yes" means No, you ninny! Sorry, the days of people buying this glimped-up holier-than-thou claptrap are over.

A straightforward question was answered by the top guru and papal proclamator of climate change - Doc Phil Jones. There has been NO SIGNIFICANT GLOBAL WARMING SINCE 1995. Period. Live with it.

From BBC interview with topmost poobah and past chief of yarn at U of East Anglia's venerated Climatic Research Unit:

BBC: "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?"

JONES: "Yes. But only just."

From this point on alarmists attempt to explain why statistical measure, a foundation of science, is too complicated for newspaper people, weathermen, non climate scientists, and of course YOU, the unwashed. i.e. Why "Yes" means No, you ninny! Sorry, the days of people buying this glimped-up holier-than-thou claptrap are over.

A straightforward question was answered by the top guru and papal proclamator of climate change - Doc Phil Jones. There has been NO SIGNIFICANT GLOBAL WARMING SINCE 1995. Period. Live with it.

For those of you who don't know that sulleny is talking about, he's 'copy/pasting' a rant from this thread; http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/02/peru-20100220.html#more which is in response to the Youtube video I linked to; http://www.youtube.com/user/potholer54#p/a/u/0/_PWDFzWt-Ag

"... but they also emit sulfates and other aerosols that cause cooling by reflecting light and altering clouds."

Is the article suggesting that if cars were to emit more sulfates and aerosols then the world would be a better place?

Only a simple minded reader would assume that.

sulleny,

The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.

Where is the data that stands in contrast to that provided in these studies.

Storky,

There are no cars running on cellulose-based ethanol:

http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/2010/02/broken-promises-from-range-fuels.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+R-squared+%28R-Squared%29

According to my spreadsheet, eliminating all cars and all cows in America would only reduce global GHG emissions about 3%:

http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/10/wwf-study-puts-global-warming-into.html

Few seem to grasp that there are hundreds of sources that all have to be tackled. Tackling only one or two of the biggest in America alone does almost nothing:

http://home.comcast.net/~russ676/Graphics/img34.gif

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Green Car Congress © 2013 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group