Black Carbon, also known as Soot, is the second-leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide (CO2). Black Carbon may account for as much as half of Arctic warming, and on top of that it makes people sick; it is a leading cause of respiratory illness and premature death.
A by-product of inefficient combustion, Black Carbon is emitted from diesel engines, forest fires, and residential cooking and heating. In many places around the world Black Carbon from inefficient indoor cookstoves causes millions of premature deaths every year. Through the distribution and use of existing technology, Black Carbon emissions from cookstoves and other sources can be significantly reduced, having a positive impact on public health and the climate.
Sunlight absorbed by Black Carbon particles heats the atmosphere and reduces the amount of energy available for photosynthesis and agriculture. Black Carbon emissions from North America, Asia and Europe make their way to the Arctic where they settle on ice and cause more rapid melting.
Black Carbon only stays in the atmosphere for a number of days to weeks, and is therefore much easier to reduce than carbon dioxide and other Greenhouse gases. Reduction of Black Carbon will buy time to address the problem of Greenhouse gases. Measuring and controlling Black Carbon emissions will save lives, improve health worldwide, and help to address the changing climate.