DOE to Award Up to $55 Million in Funding to Develop Advanced Carbon Capture Technology at Existing Coal-Fired Power Plants
Ford’s US Hybrid Sales Up 73% for First 9 Months of 2009; Total US Hybrid Sales Down 14% for Same Period

Cutting Non-CO2 Pollutants Can Delay Abrupt Climate Change; The “Fast Action” Climate Agenda

Molina
Probability distribution for the committed warming by GHGs between 1750 and 2005. Shown are the tipping elements [large-scale components of the Earth’s system] and the temperature threshold range that initiates the tipping. From Molina et al. (2009), reproduced from Ramanathan and Feng (2008) Click to enlarge.

A “fast-action” climate agenda including reducing non-CO2 climate change agents such as black carbon soot, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as well as expanding bio-sequestration through biochar production, can forestall fast-approaching abrupt climate changes, according to Nobel Laureate Dr. Mario Molina (Chemistry, 1995) and co-authors in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Current emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) have already committed the planet to an increase in average surface temperature by the end of the century that may be above the critical threshold for tipping elements of the climate system into abrupt change with potentially irreversible and unmanageable consequences, the authors write. This would mean that the climate system is close to entering if not already within the zone of “dangerous anthropogenic interference” (DAI).

“We intend our paper as a call to action.”

—K. Madhava Sarma

Noting the references in scientific and policy literature to the need for fast-action mitigation to help avoid DAI and abrupt climate changes, the authors define “fast-action” to include regulatory measures that can begin within 2–3 years, be substantially implemented in 5–10 years, and produce a climate response within decades.

Cutting HFCs, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and methane can buy us about 40 years before we approach the dangerous threshold of 2°C warming.

—co-author Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

HFCs. HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases originally developed as substitutes for ozone-depleting chemicals. They are poised to become a larger part of the climate problem over the next few decades. (Earlier post.) HFCs are used primarily as refrigerants and in making insulating foam, and emissions are expected to grow dramatically due to increased demand for air conditioning in developing countries.

By 2050, HFC emissions could equal up to 19% of global CO2 emissions under business-as-usual scenarios. A binding legal agreement exists that can cut HFCs now—the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty—and many alternatives to HFCs have already been developed and are waiting for the right regulatory incentive from the Montreal Protocol to be deployed.

The Montreal Protocol has already delayed climate change by seven to 12 years, and put the ozone layer on the path to recovery later this century. The Montreal Protocol is critical for avoiding abrupt climate change. We have to take advantage of the proven ability of this legally binding treaty to quickly phase down HFCs.

—Dr. Mario Molina

(Dr. Molina received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his path-breaking work in 1974 that sounded the alarm on ozone-depleting CFCs.)

The small island nations of Micronesia and Mauritius submitted a joint proposal in April to phase down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. North American leaders followed suit with their own joint proposal, which builds on the islands’ submission. The Montreal Protocol is an essential strategy for the island nations to achieve fast mitigation to slow sea-level rise that is already starting to destroy their countries.

Black Carbon. A neglected fast-action strategy presented in the paper is reducing black carbon soot, an aerosol produced largely from the incomplete combustion of diesel fuels and biofuels, and from biomass burning. It is now considered to be the second or third largest contributor to climate change. (Earlier post.)

Black carbon is responsible for almost 50% of the 1.9°C increase in warming of the Arctic since 1890 as well as significant melting of the Himalaya-Tibetan glaciers that feed the major rivers of Asia, providing fresh water to billions of people. (Earlier post.)

Researchers consider black carbon an ideal target for achieving quick mitigation because it only remains in the atmosphere a few days to a few weeks and can be reduced by expanding the use of diesel particulate filters for vehicles and clean-burning or solar cookstoves to replace those burning dung and wood. With indoor air pollution killing 1.6 million people a year, global action to cut soot emissions would reap major benefits for both public health and climate.

If we reduce black carbon emissions worldwide by 50 percent by fully deploying all available emissions-control technologies, we could delay the warming effects of CO2 by one to two decades and at the same time greatly improve the health of those living in heavily polluted regions.

—Dr. Ramanathan

Tropospheric ozone. Like black carbon, ground level or tropospheric ozone doubles as a major climate forcer and health hazard. It also lowers crop yields. A recent study reported that ozone’s damage to crop yields in 2000 resulted in an economic loss of up to $26 billion annually.

It is formed by ozone precursor gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, and other hydrocarbons, many of which can be reduced by improving the efficiency of industrial combustion processes. Reducing tropospheric ozone by 50% could buy another decade’s worth of time for countries to start making substantial cuts in CO2, the authors said.

Biochar. Biochar is one of the few promising “carbon-negative” strategies that can drawdown existing concentrations of CO2. The fine-grained charcoal product is a stable form of carbon that can be plowed into soil where it remains for hundreds to thousands of years, also serving as a natural fertilizer. Biochar comes from cooking biomass waste at low temperatures with minimal oxygen (pyrolysis).

The other fast-action strategies can quickly mitigate emissions, but to back away from the cliff of abrupt climate change, we need biochar.

—co-author Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Climate policy. Although most of the world is focused on CO2 in the months leading up to Copenhagen, the authors of the paper hope that policymakers will recognize the advantages of implementing these fast-action strategies to complement reductions in CO2.

These fast-action strategies will support the long-term CO2 solution by stopping near-term climate change with non-CO2 solutions. This will bring momentum to those negotiating the international agreement and the US legislation.

—Dr. Stephen Andersen

The paper is part of a “Tipping elements in Earth systems” special feature to be published in PNAS later this year.

Resources

  • Mario Molina, Durwood Zaelke, K. Madhava Sarma, Stephen O. Andersen, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, and Donald Kaniaru (2009) Reducing abrupt climate change risk using the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions. PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.0902568106

Comments

The Goracle

.

"A “fast-action” climate agenda..."

Oh! I am SOOoooo thankful that we've started rebranding things again. Now that Global Warming® is Climate Change® we really need to add "fast-action®" in order to make people think that it's an emergency, and it's OUR FAULT!!!! (Well, it's your fault because my carbon footprint is incredibly small. And, I hold my breath, only breathing out into a carbon sequestering device when available).

Never mind the ice core samples that prove that increases in CO2 lags Global Warming® by 500+ years. Never mind that CO2 is necessarry for a Green Planet®. We must demonize people exhaling because CO2 is a product of humans.

Now lets get to the REAL pollutant and KILLER of thousands of people every year: Dihydrogen monoxide. This terrible pollutant MUST b regulated. It suffocates thousands of people every year. They die slow, painful, deaths and heartless people don't care. REGULATE DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE NOW!!!

Praise be unto Algore!

.

ESabre

As record cold water temperatures resulted in a record low hurricane season and as we prepare to enter another record breaking cold winter, you can sense the urgency on the part of the leftists.

If they don't use the AGW hoax to sieze control over all productive human activity soon, even the most rabid MSNBC Kool Aid drinker will catch on to the fact that the planet has been cooling for a decade. How many times does that crackpot Hansen have to be caught cooking the temperature books, and how many so-called "computer models" have to be exposed as frauds, before the flat earth, no growth enviromarxists actually acknowledge reality.

Reel$$

What is so sad now is to see the damage the exaggerated AGW campaign has done to constructive conservationists. With the collapse of AGW theory so too go dozens of here-to-for respected organizations and institutions. Just as the boy who cried wolf found himself isolated by disbelieving villagers - alarmists will have crashed public opinion of environmentalists. Whose work is important to a healthy planet.

Had only the global warming sheeple done some homework to find the real story. It was offered to them in the form of a novel "State of Fear." But alarmists were so adamant to sell their state of fear they rolled over the sensible arguments put forward by author Crichton. Hysteria, vicious ad homs, personal attack, all the tools of green fascism. Sad.

Ah well, environmentalists will have an uphill battle for a while and maybe next time, alarmists will be more circumspect about building a "behavior modification" campaign around doctored science.

ai_vin

And here we see the blind following the blind following the blind. Now all we need is the religious fruitcake and the mis-speller to chime in and we'll have a FULL nutHOUSE.

The Goracle

.

Now all we need is the religious fruitcake ... to chime in...

Al Gore (your religious fruitcake) has LEFT the building...

(Praise be unto Algore)

.

arnold

Ai vin,

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work and annoys the pig.
(from a contributor to the XV assylum (motorcyclist) website)

Or referring to our Americas cup winning boat owner' villain'

" It's like wrestling with a pig in shite only the pig enjoys it"

Arne

The first denialist thinks he is funny by ending all hist posts with the same phrase.

The second denialist treats the novel 'State of Fear' as if it is a work of science. That's about as smart as a general watching Steven Seagal movies to learn how to deal with terrorists.

The third denialist... oh wait, there is no third denialist, just these two nuttters posting here.

Arne

The first denialist thinks he is funny by ending all hist posts with the same phrase.

The second denialist treats the novel 'State of Fear' as if it is a work of science. That's about as smart as a general watching Steven Seagal movies to learn how to deal with terrorists.

The third denialist... oh wait, there is no third denialist, just these two nuttters posting here.

ai_vin

@arnold

You're right, from now on I'll just refer to them as Moe, Larry and Curly.

HarveyD

In the short terms, black carbons are worse than CO2 for our health and possibly the globe's health too.

We lived in a city where almost every house had one of those open wood burning fire place. After 4 years we add to sell because my wife's health was overly affected with 4 to 5 months a year of black carbon and fine particles floating around. Our immediate neighbours used their fire place for normal heating almost 24-hr/day.

Black carbon and other fine particles is something we can do without, even naysayers would benefit by their absence.

HarveyD

Black carbon major sources:

42% open biomass burning.

18% residential biomass burning

24% diesels

10% industrial

6 residential coal burning

Basically, biomass burning accounts for 60% of all black carbon emissions and all diesels for about 24%.

wesmontage

@ Goracle, ESabre and Reel$$,

You guys really do build strong, well-supported arguments. I strongly suggest that at least one of you publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal and prove all of those myopic, shallow-minded atmospheric scientists wrong. How hard can it be?

The Goracle

.

@ wesmontage

You cited no peer review articles in your comment. Please follow your own advice. Post the peer reviewed article that proves that CO2 is a leading factor in Global Warming®, not a lagging factor. Or, take the oh-so-familiar path of the typical Globalwarmist and continue to name call.

Praise be unto Algore!!! At least I praise your god when I post, yeeesh!!! Get with it.

By the way, I work with the "shallow-minded atmospheric scientists" at NASA. Yes, you are correct about that one!

.


wesmontage

@ Goracle,

I didn't call you anything. Better check it again.

I never thought much of Al Gore, especially after he let ol' W steal the election. I think he's OK for doing some high visibility cheerleading to help combat AGW, but I don't worship anybody or anything. Nothing he said ever swayed me one way or the other. If the Nobel jury was serious about delivering a high-profile slap to W and his oil billionaire friends, they should have awarded a prize to James Hansen. Obama might be worthy of one in a few years if he can deliver at least a few of the things he's promised.

Myself, I worry that CO2 and other anthropogenic emissions will greatly exacerbate natural natural upswings and may cause instability and a metastable runaway condition. I don't do atmospheric science for a living (do you?), but what we're doing sounds like a recipe for inducing a positive feedback mechanism to me.

Can you post the article that proves CO2 isn't the leading factor? How 'bout some light reading?
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Treehugger

Goracle

the fact that you clean the toilet of NASA doesn't qualify you as a climate expert.

Arne

Goracle, I understand that you are confused. Something can not be both cause and effect at the same time. That is perhaps so in ordinary life, but science is not always straightforward. Let me explain.

Higher atmospheric CO2 levels are both a cause AND effect of warming.

The 'cause' part has already been described in the 19th century by Arrhenius. CO2 blocks certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially in the infrared bands. The energy from the Sun (surface temp 6000 K) reaches the Earth as light and will pass through that CO2 unhindered. Then the Earth reradiates that heat out to space, but since the surface temperature of the Earth is ~287 K, it emits infrared radiation, which is (partly) blocked by the CO2 (and other gases).

CO2 can be dissolved in water. But the higher the temperature, the smaller the amount of CO2 that can be dissolved. So when the ocean heats up, CO2 will be expelled into the atmosphere. Heat up of the ocean can occur due to slight variations in the Earth's orbit (Milankovich cycles). That slight warming is then reinforced by the CO2, heating the ocean more, releasing more CO2. In that process, CO2 acts as a positive feedback.

What we are effectively doing now is tinkering with that feedback system by directly introducing that CO2. That's why the 'CO2 lags temperature' doesn't prove that CO2 can't cause global warming.

-----------------------

Now to the regulation of water vapor. Indeed water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. No climate scientist has ever denied that, no one is trying to sweep it under the rug. The fact is that anything we do that reduces the amount of water vapor, will be undone immidiately by evaporation from the ~350 million sq. km of open water on this planet. As far as I know there is exactly one thing we can do to reduce the amount of H2O in the atmosphere: lower the temperature. The only safe way to lower the temperature is by reducing GHG gasses and aerosols.

And it works the other way around too: increase the temperature of the atmosphere and it will hold more water, reinforcing the effect of CO2. H20 is a positive feedback that we have very, very little control over.

---------------------

I don't think it is weird that the biggest problems get most attention. That's why CO2 gets so much attention. Because (apart from water vapor, which I explained above) it is by far the most difficult one to deal with. The emissions are an inevitable part of the burning of fossil fuels that form the basis of our modern societies. And once released, it stays in the ocean-atmosphere-biosphere cycle for centuries. Much longer than the others. Methane and black carbon emissions are much easier to reduce, and exit the atmosphere much quicker.

Science is not simple, I hope this explanation helps to improve your knowledge of climate science a bit so you are able to understand the issues at hand.

I am eagerly awaiting the references you owe to wesmontage.

Thomas Lankester

@wesmontage, Anne
Great posts.
One observation though: maybe the credit for the experimental verification of the effect of greenhouse gases should go to Tyndall (1859, see also http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227081.500-the-man-who-discovered-greenhouse-gases.html).

Also Tyndall, John 1872, Contributions to Molecular Physics in the Domain of Radiant Heat (450 pages) (a compilation of research reports)

Arrhenius built on his work, devising the first mathematical model showing the effect of fossil fuel burning.

arnold

Ai vin,
Larry,Moe and Curly Joe.
Like riding a bike.
Thanks, but my sides were already sore.
Did you ever consider they may be double agents working for us?
I'm confused.

arnold

Speaking of laughing, Are they serious?
In reference to the chilled ammonia CCS from 10th October (a little dated now).

Just had to post this (will try to bring it back when it is relevant, but) before I embarrass myself just sitting here. What we are up against.
I'll bet If your maths are bad enough this will work.
extract:

"Meanwhile, emissions of hydrocarbons from cars and trucks in the U.S. have fallen 99.3 percent on a per-mile basis since 1968, and carbon monoxide emissions have declined by 96 percent."

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4885

Scott

Whilst everyone squabbles about whether or not CO2 is a contributor to the greehouse effect *ahem* global warming ...erm *ahem* climate change - whatever the fashionable term is, is this not ignoring the elephant in the room that is long term energy security.

There are two strands to this - higher efficiency and less consumption at all fronts - something that is practicable through better thermal standards, higher mileage starndards (noting the obsession with europe quoting car CO2 emissions over energy efficiency in terms of MPG (litres/100km)). Better planning and design of urban areas - a shift away from land use separation low densities and the consequent effects this has on the practicality of walking and the viability of public transport (I love my car but I also love to have the choice only to use it when I need it)

Then there's energy supply - the second strand. Peak oil, again not going to say when that is going to happen (that's not for me to argue) and the issue of coal burning. Inevitably these resources will dwindle at some point, and I think this will lead to economic and social crisise well before any changes on climate does.

So there is a need for a thrust towards alternative energy, looking at renewables, nuclear and the goal of fusion for power, plus advanced generation bio-fuels and so-on. The sooner we can reach these goals without waiting for any future crisis proper to unfold then this can only have the added benefit of addressing CO2 emissions as a precaution. I say precaution because the evidence of climate changes is heavily based on theory and influenced vastly by variables.

The climate always changes and always will do. We will also have warming and cooling - the last cooling phase brought out the thoery that CO2 added to cooling in the 1970s! How much of this is exacerbated by industrial CO2 is the unknown really. Rather than getting too obsessed and making people (like me) suffer from 'climate fatigue' are we not better off just getting on with the job of moving towards low carbon / renewable energy. This approach may not suit the extreme left if this allows responsible capitalism to continue.

ai_vin

the last cooling phase brought out the thoery that CO2 added to cooling in the 1970s!

Actually, no. It was never thought CO2 was causing cooling in the 70s. CO2 is not the only factor in climate change. In the 70's it was found that Global Warming was being countered by Global Dimming. Global dimming is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth's surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in the 1950s. The effect varies by location, but worldwide it has been estimated to be of the order of a 4% reduction over the three decades from 1960–1990. However, after discounting an anomaly caused by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, a very slight reversal in the overall trend has been observed.

It is thought to have been caused by an increase in particulates such as sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere due to human action. The switch from a "global dimming" trend to a "brightening" trend in 1990 happened just as global aerosol levels started to decline with the advent of various 'clean air acts.'

Watch this; http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-2058273530743771382&ei=ZvrWSvjpJILsqAPl5PWLCg&q=dimming+the+sun&hl=en#

Arne

Scott,

You say: The climate always changes and always will do. We will also have warming and cooling

That is really helpful and very illuminating. I would call it intellectual laziness, can't be bothered to think about it and learn about it.

What if a group of drug dealers settles in your neighbourhood. You go to the police to ask they do something about it and they respond with: There has always been crime and there always will be. We will also have dangerous neighbourhoods and safe neighbourhoods. And they take another bite of their donuts. How would you react?

HarveyD

Anne:

It is sad to admit it, but you may have unwillingly very well described the majority of our current police force.

ESabre

At HarveyD's request, I have twice attempted to post links to peer reviewed articles which dispute AGW theory. I also posted links to articles referencing the hundreds of scientists and climate researchers who have disputted the IPCC report and the so-called science behind it. Finally, I posted a link to an article by Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein in which he describes climate regulation as a means of wealth redistribution (The true goal of many in the AGW crowd in my opinion).

For some reason the posts have disappeared as soon as I post them, so I won't try to attach the links again, but Harvey, I'm sure if you do a quick goole search, you will find there are quite a few "peer reviewed" studies out there that do in fact dispute AGW theory.

Mark_BC

It would be REALLY nice if GCG could fix this posting forum so the entries are in chronological order and not duplicated.

Anyways, the last decade of "global cooling" hasn't happened, warming has gone on right up until now. Denialists harp on about how cold the weather is around them right now, well I can point out that this summer in Bella Coola, a new all time record high temperature was set. Is that evidence that the world is warming? No, that's just weather. It's widespread long term trends that are important. And it's the polar regions that feel the greatest effects of global warming.

You look to ocean heat content (rising significantly), worldwide glacier melt (increasing dramatically), arctic sea ice melt (increasing dramatically), antarctic sea ice melt (isn't happening, because it all melts in the summer anyways), increase in atmospheric temperatures (increasing significantly over the last few decades with expected variability in year to year trends), changes in polar ice sheet dynamics, etc.

The fact that historical ice core data shows that temperature rise leads CO2 rise by 800 years actually CONFIRMS the positive feedback relationship between the two, and that ice ages are caused by Milankovitch orbital cycles working on positive feedback mechanisms.

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