Diesel Pollution Hurts Polar Bears Too
The California diesel clean-up program is quite possibly the largest program to control a potent global warming pollutant, black carbon, although not officially recognized as a climate program under AB 32. Diesel engines are the largest source of black carbon in most industrialized areas, presenting a major opportunity to stop some of the epic warming occurring in the Arctic, while other important climate policies are adopted. Some studies estimate that black carbon has contributed to roughly half of the warming that the Arctic has experienced over the last century.
With current technology, such as diesel particulate filters, more than 90 percent of black carbon from diesel engines could be eliminated virtually overnight. In fact, the California diesel program has already cut in half the black carbon concentrations in the air compared to twenty years ago, which is good news for the Sierra Snowpack, which has been impacted by black carbon and global warming. The California Diesel Control Program is expected to reduce black carbon 75 percent by 2020, amounting to 2 to 8 Million Metric Tons of CO2-equivalent reductions (MMT CO2e, using a methodology proposed by ARB; see p. 52). A similar program at the national level could yield reductions of 100 MMT CO2e or more.
With a steady stream of reports of epic melting in the Arctic (recent reports here and here) and the related potential for significant increases in sea level and other perilous impacts, the California diesel programs are something to celebrate and adopt far and wide.
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