Tuesday's online issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research witnessed the publication of a new study stating that, despite common held beliefs, soot must be listed as the second largest contributor to global warming.
Up until now, almost nobody dared disagree with the fact that soot is one of the underlying causes of both global warming and climate change. However, researchers say that its negative impact on our planet has been very much downplayed over the course of the past few years.
Thus, this so-called black carbon is second only to carbon dioxide when it comes to its ability to up global average temperatures.
For those unaware, soot is basically made up of impure carbon particles that get released into the atmosphere every time hydrocarbons are incompletely burnt.
Nature explains that these carbon particles tend to absorb solar radiation, and that their doing so translates into our climate getting warmer as the years go by.
“Accounting for all of the ways black carbon can affect climate, it is believed to have a warming effect of about 1.1 Watts per square meter, approximately two-thirds of the effect of the largest man made contributor to global warming – carbon dioxide,” reads a statement issued by the American Geophysical Union.
Several other studies focusing on soot have also showed that having such carbon particles build up in the air people breathe takes its toll on their health, meaning that individuals who become exposed to it stand to develop lung problems.
For the time being, both the United States and countries belonging to the United Nations organization are busy fighting back soot's impact on the environment and on public health by means of programs intended to reduce its production.
Still, as specialist Durwood Zaelke from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development in Washington DC puts it, “This study suggests we should be putting even more effort into reducing black carbon pollution.”