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Catastrophic Climate Could Be Forestalled by Cutting Overlooked Gases [Slide Show]

Carbon dioxide gets all the attention, but there are a host of compounds responsible for global warming

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CARBON DIOXIDE:

This colorless, odorless molecule is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are now at roughly 390 parts-per-million—up from roughly 280 ppm a few short centuries ago.....[ More ]

BLACK CARBON:

Although it's not technically a gas—more of an aerosol—soot, otherwise known as black carbon, can help warm the atmosphere during its residency of a few short weeks. And when it falls out of the atmosphere onto ice or snow, it helps melt it faster —a main reason such soot is helping speed warming in the Arctic.....[ More ]

SULFUR HEXAFLUORIDE:

This colorless, odorless gas—SF6—is an insulator used in the circuit breakers of power equipment—and the most potent greenhouse gas known to science. Since the 1990s, its concentration in the atmosphere has doubled thanks to leaks from an ever-more sprawling global electric grid .....[ More ]

COOLING CHEMICALS:

To help keep cool, a series of chemical refrigerants have been crafted in recent decades. Early refrigerants proved lethal to the planet's protective stratospheric ozone layer, as evidenced by the ozone hole pictured here.....[ More ]

NITROUS OXIDE:

Perhaps better known as laughing gas, N2O levels in the atmosphere have risen by 20 percent since 1750, reaching a concentration of 323 parts-per-billion in 2010, according to the World Meteorological Organization.....[ More ]

METHANE:

More commonly known as natural gas, CH4 is also a fossil fuel. It is the second most common greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, at 1.8 parts-per-million in the atmosphere. Concentrations have risen by 158 percent since 1750, according to the World Meteorological Organization.....[ More ]

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