SF Chronicle: Reduce Super Pollutants

Reduce super pollutants

The authors of “Carbon neutral not good enough” (Open Forum, July 31) are correct that we need to accelerate our climate goals, but they miss two critical issues: Reductions in carbon dioxide do not benefit the climate for several decades and there are much more urgent steps to cool the climate right away. It is far more urgent to focus on measures that begin to reverse climate change now.

Reducing climate super pollutants methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons benefits the climate and public health right away. These pollutants are tens to thousands of times more damaging to the climate than the carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel burning, but they only stay in the atmosphere a short time, so cutting their emissions benefits the climate immediately. We can cut these super pollutants by eliminating diesel use, converting organic waste to energy, and reducing wildfires and open burning of agricultural waste. We absolutely should phase out fossil fuels. But to avert the crisis that is already upon us, we need to focus much more on reducing methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons. Climate scientists agree that reducing these climate super pollutants is the last lever we have left to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Julia Levin, Kensington

The Letter to the Editor is available online (second letter) here.