Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reaching Climate Stabilization by Reducing Non-CO2 emissions

Non-CO2 greenhouse gases and climate change (Abstract, S. A. Montzka, E. J. Dlugokencky & J. H. Butler, Nature 476, 43–50, Aug.4, 2011)

Also discussed here: Slowing Climate Change by Targeting Gases Other Than Carbon Dioxide (Science Daily, Aug. 3, 2011)

Stabilizing climate change requires reducing emissions from carbon fuels alone by almost 100% and it is clear that even if the world found a way of doing this that it would not be achieved in a century or more- far too long to avoid the impacts from a changing atmosphere. The article reviewed today examines the non carbon gas emissions which have much shorter lifetimes in the atmosphere , contribute significantly to climate change and therefore represent an opportunity to reach stabilization more quickly than through CO2 emission reductions alone.

Key Quotes:

“stabilizing the warming effect of CO2 in the atmosphere would require a decrease of about 80 percent in human-caused CO2 emissions -- in part because some of the carbon dioxide emitted today will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years”

“ In contrast, cutting all long-lived non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent could diminish their climate warming effect substantially within a couple of decades”

“ lowering emissions of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide could lead to some rapid changes for the better."

“Without substantial changes to human behavior, emissions of the non-CO2 greenhouse gases are expected to continue to increase”

“The non-CO2 gases studied have natural sources as well as human emissions, and climate change could amplify or dampen some of those natural processes”

“"The long-term necessity of cutting carbon dioxide emissions shouldn't diminish the effectiveness of short-term action”
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