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Cookstoves contribute to outdoor Air Pollution and have a significant impact on Climate change: Scientists

An estimated 40 percent of the global population use cookstoves that burn solid fuels such as wood

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FILE - A woman in India is uses a cookstove that produces less smoke for burning wood or any other fuel. VOA
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US, Jan 26, 2017: A new study finds that cookstoves, used for cooking and heating inside homes in many developing countries, contribute to outdoor air pollution and have a significant impact on climate change.

An estimated 40 percent of the global population use cookstoves that burn solid fuels such as wood. Most studies of cookstoves focus on the health impacts in and around homes where they are used. Those reports show that up to a half-million people are thought to die every year as a result of inhaling fine particulate matter and soot emitted by cookstoves into outdoor air.

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Now, a new study looks at the air quality and climate impacts of cookstoves on a global scale.

Scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, used satellites owned by the U.S. space agency NASA, along with supercomputers that modeled cookstove pollution country by country.

Results showed that cookstoves used in Baltic countries like Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had an enormous impact on climate change, according to Forrest Lacey, co-author of the study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In general, it’s more of the northern latitude countries,” Lacey said. “So that’s why we’re seeing like the central Asian countries and Ukraine or Romania, because they actually get a lot of transport on the snow of black carbon, which has an amplified warming impact.”

Impact on Arctic

Some of these carbon deposits can blow as far north as the Arctic, which is experiencing the greatest climate impact caused by greenhouse gases.

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The use of cookstoves in populous countries like India and China also has a huge impact on climate change because of the sheer numbers of stoves that are used. But reducing the use of cookstoves in the Baltics, said the authors, would have the greatest benefit in terms of improving climate and air quality.

NGOs hope to distribute millions of clean stoves around the world this year, according to Lacey, making a sizeable dent in the estimated 100 million cookstoves that are used globally.

Not only would a large-scale reduction in solid fuel cookstoves improve local air quality, said the authors, it would benefit the global climate, too. (VOA)

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A Warmer Winter For The United States Due To El-Nino And Climate Change

While El Nino is the biggest factor in the forecast, long-term warming from human-caused climate change is a factor.

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A large cloud gathers over the skyline of San Francisco, California, Dec. 12, 2014. While the Pacific Northwest is expected to have a mild winter, California's forecast is unsure. VOA

Winter looks wet and especially mild for much of the country, thanks to a weak El Nino brewing, U.S. meteorologists said.

The National Weather Service on Thursday predicted a warmer than normal winter for the northern and western three-quarters of the nation. The greatest chance for warmer than normal winter weather is in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Montana, northern Wyoming and western North Dakota.

No place in the United States is expected to be colder than normal, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the government’s Climate Prediction Center.

The Southeast, Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic can go any which way on temperature, Halpert said.

Winter
Overall the winter looks a lot like the last few, Wamrer. Wikimedia Commons

Overall the winter looks a lot like the last few, Halpert said.

“The country as a whole has been quite mild since 2014-2015,” Halpert said.

Winter weather expert Judah Cohen, of the private company Atmospheric and Environmental Research, uses different indicators to predict winter for the National Science Foundation. He also forecasted a warm winter, heavily based on weak snowfall in Siberia.

Precipitation

Halpert said the southern one-third of the United States and much of the East Coast could be hunkering down for a wetter than normal December through January. The chances are highest in southeastern Georgia and much of northern and central Florida.

Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, parts of Idaho, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are forecast to be drier than normal, with the biggest likelihood in Hawaii, Montana and Michigan.

The middle belt of the nation and some of the north from California to New York can go any which way on precipitation.

Hurricane Florence, winter
A member of the North Carolina Task Force urban search and rescue team wades through a flooded neighborhood looking for residents who stayed behind as Florence continues to dump heavy rain in Fayetteville, N.C. VOA

The weather service’s forecast doesn’t look at snow likelihood.

El Nino

Halpert said the biggest factor in the forecast is a likely El Nino , the natural warming of parts of the central Pacific Ocean that influences weather worldwide.

The El Nino hasn’t quite formed yet, but it’s almost warm enough. Meteorologists predict there’s a 75 percent chance it’ll be around this winter. But it will be weak, not strong like the El Nino that helped lead to the record warm 2015-2016 winter, Halpert said.

Background warming

While El Nino is the biggest factor in the forecast, long-term warming from human-caused climate change is a factor, too, Halpert said.

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

“All things being equal, the slight kick we get out of the climate signal does tilt things toward the warm side,” Halpert said.

Also Read: Balloon Mission By NASA May Lead To Improved Weather Forecasting

But it’s not enough to outweigh other factors if they push toward cold.

“Even on a warming planet,” he said, “it doesn’t mean winter goes away and it’s never cold again.” (VOA)