This is going to be a dirty story — about carbon soot that is. In the combustion of biomass (e.g. wood, crop residues, dried dung), and fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), the primary end product is the gas carbon dioxide.

As has been noted previously, this gas is colorless and invisible to the eye. Also formed during the combustion process, under certain conditions and to a lesser extent, are small black particles which one can see (such as from diesel engines or lit candles with long wicks), and which have recently been recognized by scientists as a contributor to global warming.

Black carbon or soot is a part of a larger type of emissions, both natural and manmade, called aerosols. These aerosols are very small particles that are suspended in our atmosphere. They can originate from natural sources such as salt spray formed during ocean wave processes, dust formed from the grinding and erosion of land surfaces, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions for example.

Read more: Black Carbon: Impact on Climate Change and Human Health


When it comes to saving the world's forests, Malaysian scientist Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor has probably done more than any other University of Adelaide graduate in the past 50 years, the university's alumni magazine "Lumen" says in an article to mark the 2011 International Year of Forests.

The Colombo Plan scholar, who obtained a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) in 1964, is internationally renowned for his research work in tropical forests, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.

Read more: Malaysian scientist a green trailblazer



2010 was one of the deadliest years on record for coral reefs. The Caribbean Sea just outside the Cancún climate conference offers evidence of global warming's negative effect.

This summer’s extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States. 

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

Read more: Outside Cancún climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming


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