Soot (black carbon) is the black part of the smoke, which forms particles in the air. Soot settles in a short time but produces 30% of global warming

Soot from smoke is something that an be easiliy reduced and immediately contribute to reducing global warming and damage to marine and land ecosystems .

Because of its short lifetime in the atmosphere the effects of soot are strongest through regional climate warming and changed rainfall patterns. The main places for soot emissions areSouth and East Asia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Central America, and parts of Africa.

One of thelargest sources of soot is theburning of biomass, including open field burning of agricultural waste andcut forest and bush.

 Burnt 2 year old bush without larger trees Maya site with garden area 
 Clearing and burning often reveal Maya sites such as these house sites. The better soil for agriculture is shown by the unraised areas without stones.  Cleared and burnt 20 year old forest.

Soot articles in the air absorb sunlight and directly heat the surrounding air. Thesoot falling on snow or ice makes it absorb more heat.Soot deposits increase the melting rate ofglaciers and the arctic ice. Reducing soot will slowwarming over the next 40 years, perhaps by 0.1-0.2°C globally.

Soot produces 15% of climate warming.Reductions in soothave an immediateeffect of reducingglobal warming.Immediate reductions mainly in soot and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be necessary to keep global temperatures from soon rising more than 3°C above pre-industrial levels.

soot emmisions

In the industrialized northern hemisphere, residential wood stoves are the primary source of soot. Emissions from North America and Europe are the major controllable sources of sootto the Arctic, contributing significantly to northern warming and loss of ice.

The major sources of soot arenot the biggest sources of CO2 (coal and fossil fuel burning). Therefore, both problems need tobe addressed independently and simultaneously.

Diesel trucks emit a lot of soot if their filters are inadequate, and motor vehicles and electricity generation are major producers of both soot and CO2. In the tropics there is no need for energy use to control living temperatures in well designed buildings. However, there is an increasing use of air conditioners in developing tropical countries.

Soothas serious and well documented health effects; worldwide reductions in soot emissions would yearly prevent an estimated 2.4 million premature deaths and untold suffering.


Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone: Summary for Decision Makers. United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organization (2011) pp. 1-36.

Lacis et al. Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth's Temperature. Science (2010) vol. 330 (6002) pp. 356-359.

Ramanathan and Carmichael. Global and regional climate changes due to black carbon. Nature Geoscience (2008) vol. 1 (4) pp. 221-227.