The Clean Air Act and carbon hotspot deaths

This 2010 post from Brad Johnson is even more timely today given the efforts by conservatives to stop the EPA from fulfilling their mandate to regulate harmful emissions of carbon dioxide.  I have comments from the study’s author at the end.

The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for plants, cars, and factories that emit greenhouse gas pollution. Because global warming is by definition a global problem, there is support for scrapping individual source standards for a national cap-and-trade system that limits the collective pollution, instead of local emissions. However, scientific research by Mark Z. Jacobson, finds that carbon dioxide pollution is a two-fold killer “” causing not just global warming but also forming “domes” that trap other pollutants in urban areas:

Jacobson found that domes of increased carbon dioxide concentrations – discovered to form above cities more than a decade ago – cause local temperature increases that in turn increase the amounts of local air pollutants, raising concentrations of health-damaging ground-level ozone as well as particles in urban air.

Jacobson’s study, “Enhancement of Local Air Pollution by Urban CO2 Domes,” published in Environmental Science & Technology, estimates that “reducing local CO2 may reduce 300-1000 premature air pollution mortalities/yr in the U.S. and 50-100/yr in California, even if CO2 in adjacent regions is not controlled.” The deaths represent a small fraction of the population who are suffering increased respiratory problems from carbon domes.

Right-wing polluters have launched a multi-pronged assault on Clean Air Act regulation of global warming pollution, including petitions by state legislatures, lawsuits from governors and industry trade groups, resolutions in Congress, and propaganda campaigns by Astroturf groups….

— Brad Johnson in a WonkRoom repost

JR:  And now the House has “voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming.”  Here are some comments from Jacobson in an email interview:

Global warming increases air pollution where the air pollution is already high but has less effect on air pollution where the air pollution is low.
(in more detail) Warming increases water vapor, and both water vapor and higher temperatures increase ozone where the ozone is already high but have less effect where the ozone is low.
Carbon dioxide domes over cities increase temperatures over the cities above and beyond the heat island effect, and these higher temperatures increase water vapor, and both higher water vapor and higher temperatures increase the rates of chemical air pollution production over cities relative to rural areas.
The results suggest a causal nature of increased air pollution mortality due to increased carbon dioxide where the air pollution is already high. Thus, controlling CO2 emissions at the local level will reduce air pollution and the resulting air pollution mortality.

12 Responses to The Clean Air Act and carbon hotspot deaths

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    U.S. CO2 emissions – 3D View of CO2 Over the U.S.

    ‘Revolutionary’ CO2 maps zoom in on greenhouse gas sources

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    January global temperatures 11th – 17th warmest on record

    Notably, the January 2011 global ocean temperature was the warmest on record among all Januaries when La Niña was present.

    Sea ice extent in the Arctic lowest on record during January
    January 2011 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the lowest on record in January, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This was the second consecutive month of record low extent. Satellite records extend back to 1979. The area of missing ice was about twice the size of Texas, or 60% the size of the Mediterranean Sea. Ice was notably absent in Northeast Canada and Western Greenland, and Hudson Bay did not freeze over until mid-January, more than a month later than usual. This was the latest freeze-up on record, and led to record warmth over much of Northeast Canada. Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island had its warmest January on record, 1.1°C above the previous record set in 1985. Weather records for the station go back to 1942.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Darwin, Australia suffered its greatest 24-hour rainfall in its history on Wednesday, when a deluge of 13.4 inches (339.4 mm) hit the city when Tropical Cyclone Carlos formed virtually on top of city and remained nearly stationary.

  4. Paulm says:

    This stuff happening more and more

    Canadian gas pipeline explodes like the end of the world

  5. paulm says:

    Chaos is arriving fast everywhere, driven by climate change and peek oil and the internet….
    Were going over….this world will be unrecognizable soon.

  6. Tom Street says:

    There are other pollutants that EPA regulate like sulfur, oxides of nitrogen, and mercury. If the levels of these pollutants are reduced, greenhouse gases will also be reduced. Conversely, regulation of greenhouse gases has a doubly positive effect as it also affects other harmful products of combustion. Is there a loophole here.

    In any event, there are so many plus sides to regulating greenhouse gases that you don’t have to believe in AGW to realize that there are positive side benefits to regulating greenhouses gases. Of course these troglydytes probably think that things like mercury and sulfides are fine as well. Anything that might impinge on the oil, coal, and chemical industries will be stopped under this congress.

  7. paulm says:

    George Soros: Tea Party Activists Being ‘Used,’ Obama’s ‘Lost Control Of Agenda’ (VIDEO)

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Tunisian virus has hit Wisconsin. There is confusion under Heaven-the situation is excellent. Or perhaps as Casals said ‘The position is hopeless-we must take the next step’. Really, can it any longer be denied that ‘the next step’ is revolt? Not Libya, but Wisconsin, peaceful non-compliance with neo-feudalism, and species destruction. I mean, very, very, soon, if nothing is done, it will be taken out of our hands, and the ‘next steps’ will surely be into the abyss.

  9. Sime says:

    “Right-wing polluters have launched a multi-pronged assault on Clean Air Act regulation of global warming pollution, including petitions by state legislatures, lawsuits from governors and industry trade groups, resolutions in Congress, and propaganda campaigns by Astroturf groups…”

    Today the GOP / Tea party took its head out of its collective backside just long enough to single handedly attempt trash the US tourist trade.

    Yes folks tourists always wanted was to go on holiday to a country, where the rivers and aquifers are polluted with heavy metals and crap and where the air is so thick with pollutants that going outside is like smoking 400 cigarets a day…

  10. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Good article.

    Yes. Air pollution is a very serious health hazard.

    Here is an authoritative analysis on the evil effects of global warming and subsequent heat waves during which Air pollution concentrations may rise((Source: Health Implications of Global Warming: Vector-borne and Water-borne Diseases, Physicians for Social Responsibility United States Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War).

    “ Health Implications of Global Warming:
    Heat’s Deadly Effects
    Global warming is likely to increase the frequency of “extreme heat events” or heat waves.
    • For the twenty-first century, the IPCC projects with “high confidence” that extreme heat events will intensify in magnitude and duration over portions of the U.S. where they already occur.
    • We cannot attribute a specific heat wave to global warming; however, the effect of global warming on the probability of occurrence of a heat wave can be determined. In the case of the European heat wave of 2003, a group of scientists publishing in the journal Nature estimated with a greater than 90% confidence level that human influence on climate more than doubled the probability of its occurrence.

    Heat-related illnesses are serious and can lead to death.
    • The most common heat-related illness is heat exhaustion, whose symptoms include intense thirst, heavy sweating, anxiety, dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting, and headache.
    • Heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke, which is a severe illness. Its clinical definition includes a core body temperature of 105°F or more, accompanied by hot, dry skin and central nervous system abnormalities such as delirium, convulsions, or coma.
    • Mortality from heat waves is often related to cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory causes, especially preexisting illnesses.
    • Air pollution concentrations may rise during heat waves, especially as people turn on air conditioning, thus increasing their use of electricity (which if generated by burning coal is a major source of pollution). This pollution may exacerbate preexisting conditions such as angina and asthma and may lead to increased death rates.

    Extreme heat events are already a significant public health problem in the U.S.
    • In fact, extreme heat events are responsible for more deaths annually than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.
    • The health impact of extreme heat events will likely be exacerbated by the synergistic effects of a warming climate, urbanization, and an aging population.
    Heat waves are already increasing.
    • A roughly 20% overall increase in the number of heat waves – a “significant” upward trend — has been observed for the eastern and western U.S. for the period 1949 to 1995.
    • In the European heat wave of 2003, an estimated 22,000 people died across Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. vii Other mortality estimates run as high as 35,000.
    • In Paris, sustained extreme high temperatures (including high night-time minimum temperatures), unique in the recorded history of Paris, together with housing designed for cooler summers, caused a major public health crisis. Deaths increased by 140%.

    The elderly are at particularly high risk.
    • Advanced age represents one of the most significant risk factors for heat-related death in the U.S.
    • Elderly people have diminished ability to regulate body temperature and to adapt physiologically to heat. In addition, they generally experience poor health. The elderly are also more likely to live alone and have reduced social contacts, which further increases their vulnerability.
    • This vulnerable population will grow as the elderly become an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population”.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India