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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

China, soot and soybeans

There have been a number of posts about China’s appetite for soybeans some of them also mentioned that China’s crop yields have been dropping for several years. I’ve been meaning to post this link about China, soot and climate change.

Soot is mainly the result of incomplete combustion of some fuels – particularly coal. In China, coal is used extensively for home heating & cooking. These home furnaces tend to burn less completely than large industrial-size plants and are a major source of soot.

The researchers fed aerosol (soot) concentrations into their models. The models’ results match up well with observations; increased rainfall/flooding in south China, drought in northern China, decreased crop yields due to both precipitation changes and reduced sunlight. To add insult to injury, drought means less water for hydropower. The effects aren’t limited to China either: Central Asia (e.g. Afghanistan) has been suffering from drought for the last five or so years.

The link underscores the fact that development, energy and climate are all interrelated. [Put in standard disclaimer involving any climate research here.]


The good news is that since soot is relatively short lived, actions taken to reduce soot would yield results in a short time (months to years). Unfortunately, it will take longer to develop and implement a viable solution.

To paraphrase Edward, these are complex, interesting issues.

Christopher Anderson

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