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April 4, 2013

Research & Collections

Nature’s Secrets by Meg Lowman

Breathing the sooty plume from a maladjusted diesel engine or a smoldering cooking fire has always been ill-advised. But a new study finds that soot is warming the climate about twice as fast as scientists had estimated.

Richard Kerr, Science Magazine (25 January 2013)

For a typical mom in rural India, breakfast does not involve take-away Starbucks, microwaved oatmeal, frozen waffles, or sparkling tableware extracted from an automatic dishwasher. Instead, it usually consists of leaning over a wood-burning stove for many hours, inhaling particulates while cooking for your family. This scenario exists for millions of moms in India, China, South America, Indonesia, and Africa. While traditional cooking has a fairly small energy footprint compared to western cooking, it also emits black carbon, otherwise known as soot.

Soot results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels or biomass. Common sources of soot are wild fires, diesel…

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