Foreign Policy Blogs

Manmade Greenhouse Gases – Update

I’ve been reading Al Gore’s new book, with a view to using it for both my MS and continuing ed classes this spring at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs.  It’s looking pretty good to me as there are excellent up-to-date perspectives on all sorts of important topics, particularly the promise of renewables, energy efficiency, green building and biosequestration, among others, as well as the blind, expensive path down which more nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) lead.  (I’ve written about all of this here.)

Gore has an excellent discussion of the greenhouse gases, anthropogenically produced, that are wreaking the havoc that concerns us.  What’s so useful and interesting is that he fully discusses all of the six families of pollutants involved.  He presents a graphic that reflects the work of NASA’s Dr. Drew Shindell and his colleagues as presented in an article in “Science” a few weeks ago:  Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.  A greater recognition of and concern for methane’s contribution got a lot of the play at the time – see this, for instance, from “The Times” – but there is also more evidence now for the critical role that black carbon plays in warming.  (Shindell has been very involved in furthering the research on BC’s radiative forcing and how effective it could be to radically reduce its contributions.)

Here’s my representation of the new percentages that Dr. Shindell et al reflect in their recent “Science” paper.




Bill Hewitt
Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change