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Case for climate change action

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    ... Case for climate change action By William Chameides, William Schlesinger and James Wang Published: February 2 2006 02:00 | Last updated: February 2 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2006
      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Case for climate change action
      By William Chameides, William Schlesinger and James Wang
      Published: February 2 2006 02:00 | Last updated: February 2 2006 02:00

      From Mr William L. Chameides,

      Mr James Wang and Prof William H. Schlesinger.

      Sir, In his article "Beware how you meddle with climate change"
      (January 13), Robert Matthews argued that action on global warming
      was ill-advised in light of "the recent spate of large revisions of
      facts (about the global climate system)". This argument seriously
      misrepresented these "large revisions of facts".

      The recent finding published in the journal Nature that vegetation
      may emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is potentially an
      important scientific advance. However, calculations based on the data
      from the Nature article show that these methane emissions will not
      significantly undermine the effectiveness of growing or preserving
      trees (and the carbon they store) to counter global warming - see

      For example, the warming caused by methane emissions from a temperate
      forest grown in the US is only 1-10 per cent of the cooling effect
      gained from carbon dioxide sequestration. Reductions of this
      magnitude are easily managed and incorporated into existing protocols
      for carbon sequestration projects.

      Also ill-conceived is the argument that a reduction in fossil fuel
      burning by power plants will not slow global warming because coal-
      fired power plants produce aerosols - microscopic particles suspended
      in the atmosphere - that cool the atmosphere. The aerosols arise from
      the emissions of sulphur dioxide.

      Because of concerns about human health and acid rain impacts,
      countries throughout the world are moving to reduce sulphur dioxide
      emissions from coal-fired power plants. Most climate scenarios assume
      near-zero emissions of sulphur dioxide from the global power sector
      by the end of the century.

      Thus the cooling from sulphur dioxide emissions is going to be phased
      out regardless of what is done about CO2 emissions. In the future, CO
      {2 }emissions will be even more damaging because they will no longer
      be accompanied by sulphur dioxide emissions.

      The new discoveries alluded to in these pages notwithstanding,
      virtually all recent findings related to climate have significantly
      strengthened the science underpinning the global warming phenomenon
      and the need for prompt action.

      William L. Chameides,

      Chief Scientist

      James Wang,

      Climate Scientist

      Environmental Defense,

      New York, NY 10010, US

      William H. Schlesinger,

      James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry and Dean, Nicholas School
      of the Environment,

      Duke University,

      Durham, NC 27708, US




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