Furthermore, researchers say, CO2's long lifespan and inertia means even an immediate and substantial reduction in CO2 emissions will take years to alter Arctic warming trends. Yet the same reduction in short-lived pollutants, they note, could substantially reduce Arctic warming now - and bring numerous health benefits to people throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
"We have very little leverage to affect the effects of CO2," said Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "This is not so for short-lived pollutants."
Elizabeth Grossman is a Portland-based writer and author, most recently, of "High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health."