Short-lived Climate Forcers

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Until recently, black carbon was not actually considered to have a warming potential at all.

Black carbon or soot is produced with the burning of vegetation and fossil fuels and is 680 times more heat trapping than CO2.

One of the biggest problems that black carbon creates is its absorption of heat from the suns rays, thus also warming the surrounding air. When this sooty residue lands on the snowy regions of our planet, not only does it melt the snows faster but it also darkens the surface, consequently causing less reflection of the suns rays back into the atmosphere.

Over 90 percent of the black carbon emitted by nations in the arctic region comes from agriculture, forest or peat fires. Scientists found that 60% of the black carbon particles in Antarctica were carried there by the wind from South American forests which are burned to clear land mainly for livestock grazing or the growing of soy for animal feed. Because over 80 percent of agriculture in the Amazon is for cattle grazing and raising soya for animals, reducing consumption of animal products is possibly the fastest way to reduce shorter lived climate forcers.

With black carbon staying in our atmosphere for a matter of a few weeks as opposed to CO2, which remains for 100 years or more, addressing black carbon is a key to mitigating climate change.