Their paper, published this week in the journal Science, recommends 14 actions to reduce emissions of methane gas – a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide – and black carbon – the technical term for soot, which absorbs heat from the sun’s rays.
Among the measures they suggest are:
- encouraging people to use switch cleaner diesel engines and cookstoves
- building more efficient kilns and coke ovens
- capturing methane at landfills and oil wells
- reducing methane emissions from rice paddies by draining them more often.
Adopting the study’s recommendations would reduce projected temperatures by approximately 0.5°C by 2050, as well as avoiding millions of premature deaths due to air pollution and increasing crop yields thanks to reductions in ozone.
The proposal is a projection, to be sure. But there is a large body of evidence available that shows there are many benefits to reducing these contaminants.
Systematic reviews show that reducing soot levels improves lung function and pregnancy outcomes. And it’s been clearly documented that methane gas warms the atmosphere, and that reducing its levels will boost agricultural yields.
So, in fact, the new study delivers another benefit, as noted in this New York Times column: it offers practical solutions with the immediate benefits of improving health and helping farmers produce more.
To us, it seems like a proposal worth putting into practice.