Transportation and Climate Change

“The worse consequences of climate change will be experiences by the poorest 3 billion (people), largely living in villages, who had nothing to do with this,” stated Veerabhadran Ramanathan regarding the constantly heightening, if not evenly dispersed stakes of global warming.

“Not 100 years from now. Not 50 years from now. Five to 10 years from now, they’re going to see major disasters.”

Ramanathan is a 71-year old professor currently teaching at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. He has been a pioneer in the realm of climate research, and continues to feel a sense of urgency in the work towards abetting global climate change that must be done.

transportation and climate changeRamanathan is responsible for the discovery of human-made greenhouse gases that aren’t carbon. He used drones to document the way noxious clouds of pollutants travel across the world. He has also acted as an environmental adviser to Governor Jerry Brown, federal officials and the United Nations on global warming.

He has recently returned from his efforts to meet with religious leaders from around the globe, all the while discussing ways to reach audiences currently apathetic or dismissive of concerns linked to our warming planet. His attempts to galvanize the public have involved efforts to bridge seemingly opposing philosophical realms such as hard facts and personal advocacy, and religion and science.

Ramanathan’s credentials have only served to fuel his fear for the lives of the world’s poorest people, who are also the most likely to become climate refugees and suffer from flooding, prolonged drought, and extreme wildfires.

Ramanthan began to publicly claim that global warming was the single biggest risk to human beings in the mid-1980’s. He was widely disliked by scientists and politicians alike for this claims, but eventually his perspective began to gain steam. He received $20 million from the National Science Foundation and began to research atmospheric brown clouds, an effort that eventually involved six aircrafts and roughly 200 scientists from six different countries.

They found that there were clouds of pollution thick enough to cover the continental United States offshore the Indian subcontinent, mostly tracing back to cooking with wood, cow dung, burning of fossil fuels and industrial aerosols.

“No one knew that the pollution was so widespread,” he said. “The air pollution was thought to be locally concentrated, like over cities. What we found is that this pollution stayed in the air long enough, a few weeks, that it covered the entire northern Indian Ocean.”

Brown clouds are made up of black carbon, methane, ozone and industrial gases such as hydrofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. According to climate scientists, these particular pollutants cause up to 40% of human-caused global warming.

trans and climThe next obvious question is, “What can we do about these facts?” You can buy an electric vehicle and save a whole lot on your mileage, you can install solar panels in your home, and you can follow Ramanathan’s lead and launch effective projects of your own. He created a movement that brought specialized stoves to India that reduce emissions linked to cooking with wood, cow dung and crop waste by 50-90%.

“If you cut (short-lived climate pollutants) globally just using technology already available in California, we can bring down the warming by 50%,” explained Ramanathan. His work caught the eye of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who late held a news conference with Ramanathan in the front row announcing the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.

This campaign includes 50 countries as well as dozens of groups such as the United Nations and the World Bank.



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