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So Many Reasons

April 23, 2012 - Forty percent of something.  Is that a lot, or a little?  Let's see - a third of something is 33%, half of something is 50%.  A small amount, in my opinion, is less than 20 percent.  Any sale that offers less than 20 percent off just doesn't interest me.  A third off, on the other hand, interests me quite a bit.  Forty percent off is what I consider serious savings (half off makes me think there must be something wrong with the merchandise). So 40% is a substantial amount of something, a lot.  If someone is discussing 40 percent of something, I take that seriously.

Which means that the fact the U.S., along with Canada, Mexico, Bangladesh, Ghana, and Sweden, has launched an initiative to reduce emissions of soot, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, is a serious effort to clean the air and mitigate global warming.  Research indicates that these gases may have contributed as much as 40 percent to global warming.  Were these gases longer lived in the atmosphere (I happen to know that methane lasts 7 years), their contribution would be even more significant.

This initiative, called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, will be funded, in part, through a $12 million contribution over two years made by the U.S.  The money will be used for education projects and emissions reduction, which can be accomplished by installing special filters on diesel tailpipes, and switching to cleaner-burning cookstoves.  The health benefits to be realized as a result of these efforts include fewer people suffering from respiratory ailments, and millions of premature deaths prevented annually, primarily in developing countries.  The slowing of global warming could have huge consequences, allowing international negotiators to finally determine how best to reduce emissions of long-lived pollutants.

Not only could these negotiations, over which so many have labored for so long, finally bear fruit, but, according to a study published in the January 2012 issue of Science, the rate of global warming would be slashed very nearly in half over the next several decades, while at the same time saving around 4.7 million lives a year, and boosting crop yields.  There can be no doubt - a 40% reduction in short-lived, global-warming gases could have enormously beneficial consequences.

News of even greater currency and importance was released just today.  Those of us who are sore at heart over the rancorous, pointless debate over climate change in this country are long overdue for good news.  Here it is: the White House is seeking $469 million for climate change programs in Africa and South America.  Though touted, in part, as terrorism abatement (an attempt to curry favor with the R's?), this initiative, called the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), includes helping farmers preserve pastureland, and aiding women who cannot afford to migrate away from environmental devastation.  Reducing carbon emissions is another goal of the GCCI.  The chances of such an initiative being funded by the current Congress are, however, pretty slim.

This election year could well be the perfect time to put a Democratic Congress in place - for oh, so many reasons.


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