If a group of scientists announced that reducing emissions of some pollutants would prevent global warming, it wouldn’t make headlines—we’ve been hearing that for years when the pollutant is carbon dioxide. However, if they added that those reduced emissions would also prevent millions of premature deaths per year and increase annual crop yields by tens to hundreds of millions of tons, you would probably take notice. But the part that will really blow your mind—and what might make some people reconsider their stance—is that all of this could be done at a profit.
A large group of scientists identified 14 emissions reduction measures—out of around 400 considered—that primarily reduce ozone and black carbon (BC; think soot) using existing technology. The study was authored by Drew Shindell, of NASA Goddard and Columbia University, who had 23 coauthors from a total of 13 different institutions around the world (from countries including the US, UK, Italy, Austria, Thailand, and Kenya). The group concluded that the economic benefits of improved air quality and diminished global warming exceed the typical costs of these 14 approaches.