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Despite Lower CO2 Emissions, Diesel Cars May Promote More Global Warming Than Gasoline Cars

Date:
October 22, 2002
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Laws that favor the use of diesel, rather than gasoline, engines in cars may actually encourage global warming, according to a new study. Although diesel cars obtain 25 to 35 percent better mileage and emit less carbon dioxide than similar gasoline cars, they can emit 25 to 400 times more mass of particulate black carbon and associated organic matter ("soot") per kilometer [mile]. The warming due to soot may more than offset the cooling due to reduced carbon dioxide emissions over several decades, according to Mark Z. Jacobson, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.

WASHINGTON - Laws that favor the use of diesel, rather than gasoline, engines in cars may actually encourage global warming, according to a new study. Although diesel cars obtain 25 to 35 percent better mileage and emit less carbon dioxide than similar gasoline cars, they can emit 25 to 400 times more mass of particulate black carbon and associated organic matter ("soot") per kilometer [mile]. The warming due to soot may more than offset the cooling due to reduced carbon dioxide emissions over several decades, according to Mark Z. Jacobson, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Writing in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Jacobson describes computer simulations leading to the conclusion that control of fossil-fuel black carbon and organic matter may be the most effective method of slowing global warming, in terms of the speed and magnitude of its effect on climate. Not only does soot warm the air to a much greater extent than does carbon dioxide per unit mass, but the lifetime of soot in the air (weeks to months) is much less than is that of carbon dioxide (50 to 200 years). As such, removing soot emissions may have a faster effect on slowing global warming than removing carbon dioxide emissions.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Despite Lower CO2 Emissions, Diesel Cars May Promote More Global Warming Than Gasoline Cars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021022071123.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2002, October 22). Despite Lower CO2 Emissions, Diesel Cars May Promote More Global Warming Than Gasoline Cars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021022071123.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Despite Lower CO2 Emissions, Diesel Cars May Promote More Global Warming Than Gasoline Cars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021022071123.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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