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Slow climate change now!

Posted by Erin Flaherty on Feb 07, 2012
Tags: climate change news, farm methane, wewoka biogas project

What if we could fight climate change with almost instant results? Well, we can. Researchers in the United States, Britain, Italy, Austria, Thailand, and Kenya have developed a proposal containing 14 measures to control global warming that would yield positive results within a decade.

The proposal targets black carbon (soot) and methane (a powerful greenhouse gas), which are shorter-lived pollutants than carbon dioxide. Eliminating these emissions holds the promise of slowing climate change while other longer-term solutions and adaptation measures are put in place.

One example from the proposal is destroying methane from landfills before it enters the atmosphere. That’s exactly what our Wewoka Biogas Project does—it uses methane gas from landfill waste to power a brick kiln. Another example is capturing methane from livestock manure. Again NativeEnergy has helped build 11 farm projects to destroy farm-based methane.

Other ways to cut methane are capturing fugitive emissions from oil and gas wells, limiting emissions from wastewater systems, and rice paddies. 

To reduce black carbon, the researchers suggest developing cleaner diesel engines, brick kilns, and coke ovens. NativeEnergy is in the final stages of developing a project in Africa that would purify water using sand filters rather than boiling by soot-producing wood fires. By effectively combining these soot-reducing measures, the results of this proposal would be significant. By 2050, researchers estimate, these practices could reduce the amount of global warming by one degree Fahrenheit.

Plus, the reduction in soot offers other benefits, notably cleaner air and increased agricultural output. Is this plan too good to be true? Ted Nordhaus, an advocate of the plan, makes the distinction between managing ecological problems rather than solving them. In the absence of an immediate and realistic “solution,” he argues that the best we can do is to manage the problems we face today and take small steps toward a solution. This new proposal offers specific action, with the added attraction of immediate benefits.

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