The US scientists have once again concluded that there is no other alternative, and the only way to limit climate change and global warming is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
It won’t really help to concentrate on limiting methane emissions, or even potent greenhouse gases such as hydrofluorcarbons, or nitrous oxide, or the soot and black carbon that also contribute to global warming. Containing all or any of them would make a temporary difference, but the only thing that can work in the long run is a serious cut in carbon dioxide emissions.
Raymond Pierrehumbert, a climatologist at the University of Chicago, combined new research and analysis and a review of the scientific literature. He reports in the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences that although livestock emissions such as methane are, molecule for molecule, potentially more potent as global warming agents than carbon dioxide, there remains no substitute for reducing the burning of fossil fuels.
He said, “Until we do something about CO2, nothing we do about methane or these other things is going to matter much for climate.”
The conclusion is not a new one. The same solution was recommended by a Californian-led team in June, and university researchers in Oxford, UK and Bern. Moreover, Switzerland’s also pointed out the same thing last year in November.
Other greenhouse gases certainly contribute to global warming, and researchers have urged new ways to to be adopted to contain global temperature rises by reducing grazing herds, or by introducing better livestock management, or by making a concerted effort to limit all the other short-lived pollutants.
However, Professor Pierrehumbert argues that the point is that methane, hydrofluorocarbons and nitrous oxides are all short lived gases. Remove them, and there is a benefit. But carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere, and goes on being a greenhouse gas. Any extra CO2 in the atmosphere will go on warming the planet.