Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New global treaty proposed to control climate change and improve health

16.10.2003


A global treaty focusing on intercontinental air pollution could be a better approach to controlling climate change than the Kyoto Protocol, according to a new scientific study. By cooperating to reduce pollutants like ozone and aerosols, countries could address their own regional health concerns, keep their downwind neighbors happy and reduce the threat of global warming in the process, claim the researchers.



The report appears in the Oct. 13 edition of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

The Kyoto Protocol, drafted in 1997, was designed to provide binding commitments for reducing national emissions of greenhouse gases, with a special emphasis on carbon dioxide. Some countries, however, like the United States and China, have been reluctant to fully adopt the standards because of their potential economic burden.


In the new study, researchers from Columbia (N.Y.), Harvard and Princeton acknowledge the need to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, but they propose that a treaty dealing with air pollutants like ozone and aerosols, which can cause health problems, could be a better first step, uniting the interests of all countries involved.

"We suggest that it may be time to consider an international treaty to control air pollution on a hemispheric scale," says lead researcher Tracey Holloway, Ph.D. "The Kyoto Protocol addresses carbon dioxide emissions, which have no direct health impact, so they are not regulated currently as air pollutants." Holloway was at Columbia University when the study was done and is now with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An air pollution treaty that targets health-related pollutants "would tie in to regulations that most countries are already pursuing on a domestic basis," according to Holloway. One obvious example of this in the United States is the Clean Air Act, which regulates various pollutants, such as those that contribute to acid rain, smog and ozone depletion.

Holloway and her colleagues focused their research on ozone and aerosols. Both have lifetimes of about one week - long enough to be transported from Asia to the United States, as well as shorter distances across the Atlantic - and both pose health risks associated with respiratory disease, which Holloway says makes them more immediate concerns to countries than carbon dioxide.

But ozone and aerosols also contribute to large-scale climate problems, Holloway says, so the implications of controlling them go beyond air pollution into the realm of climate change.

The case for controlling greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide was first presented three years ago by James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, according to Holloway.

Holloway believes an international air pollution treaty would not encounter the roadblocks that the Kyoto Protocol has faced. "It would be serving the self-interest of participating countries to address short-term health risks," she says. "Regulation could take shape without immediate reform of the domestic or international energy economy, and energy savings implemented to achieve air quality goals could have the win-win effect of reducing carbon dioxide emissions as well."

Holloway suggests a treaty based loosely on the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), which initially addressed acid rain deposition in Europe through voluntary participation. The convention has since been amended to cover a broad range of pollutants, and participants include countries from Western and Eastern Europe as well as the United States and Canada.

Expanding such a treaty to include Asia would give the United States even more incentive to participate, Holloway says, since westerly winds spread pollution from that part of the world to North America. "Asian countries are already concerned about air pollution," she adds, "and are making significant strides toward domestic control."

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>