On December 3rd, NOAA sponsored a side event to discuss lessons learned from air quality monitoring in Mexico City and LA over the last 20 years. The event began with a technical explanation by NOAA of how climate forcing agents and air quality producing pollutants are often the same. The spokesperson from NOAA suggested that reducing emissions for air quality can help climate change mitigation opportunities to create a “win win” situation. Another co-benefit mentioned was that air quality pollutants are faster to remove from the air than other ‘climate’ pollutants like CO2. Anyone who has taken Professor Clemmer’s air pollution class would already have a sense of this, but it is interesting that NOAA scientists are becoming advocates for this issue.
NASA then followed with an explanation of how megacities (populations over 10 million) in particular should consider this strategy, because warming can be exacerbated by urban heat island effects.
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) US president asked both NASA & NOAA why they are focusing on megacities (cities over 10 million) when 71% of the US population lives in cities between 250,000 to 1,000,000 people. NOAA admitted this is area of research is needed and added that another important demographic for research are the small population centers in the middle of areas of high agricultural emissions.
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Later a representative of Mexico City asked, “What are Megacities in developed countries doing to help Megacities in developing countries?” Singh of NASA answered, “Megacities in developed countries have a great knowledge base and history with lessons learned.”
In contrast, Ravishankara of NOAA answered, “Different cities have different climates, even though there may be similar methodologies we must deal with cities differently because of the different combinations of emissions.“