Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

ISTC Sustainability Seminar Series

Air Pollution and the Climate System: Sustainability Now and Later

Dr. Tami Bond, UI Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering

October 13, 2009

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Choices about energy consumption affect atmospheric chemistry and the climate system. Although climate change is often associated with gases that have long atmospheric lifetimes, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), traditional pollutants like particulate matter and ozone also affect atmospheric chemistry, the Earth's energy balance, and climate. This talk explores the implications of the interaction between air pollutants and the climate system. At this moment, cooling by some particles competes with greenhouse gas warming, so that much of the expected warming is not observed. As we choose actions that reduce climate impact, we need to consider all pollutants, not just greenhouse gases. Ignoring the plethora of combustion-related pollutants may result in poor decisions, if the pollutants that are not greenhouse gases have significant climate impacts. Finally, the short atmospheric lifetimes of some pollutants provide the opportunity to take actions that will benefit both climate and human health in the very near future.

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