|A Cookstove in Mali|
Reducing black carbon is essential for human health. Then that black smoke gets in your lungs it can cause asthma, lung damage, and premature death. The Alliance says that it causes 1.9 million deaths annually, and women and young children are often the most affected.
Reducing black carbon is also a key tool for mitigating climate change. Though black carbon does not contribute to the traditional greenhouse effect - unlike Carbon Dioxide it does not go in the upper atmosphere -- it is extremely important for local and regional warming. Essentially, the black color of the soot can increase the heat level. When it lands on snow or ice, the darker color will absorb more heat and reduce the amount of glaciers or snowpack. This is very important in the Himalayas, because one of the biggest areas of cookstove usage is in the Indian Subcontinent. More detail can be found in this testimony to Congress by VS Ramanathan, a leading scholar on its effects.
One of the great things about reducing black carbon is that it has immediate effects: when it rains, the carbon is literally washed out of the sky, so this program can have big effects on climate in the short term.
Take a look at their website here: http://cleancookstoves.org/. It looks like it just went live today.