Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to avoiding increasing climate change impacts. Doing so won’t immediately stop the world from heating, but it will improve life quickly. Because gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide remain in the atmosphere for varying lengths of time (CO2 for 300 to 1,000 years, methane and nitrous oxide for far less time), temperatures will rise even after we’ve stopped pumping them into the atmosphere.

But pollution will decrease quickly. Particulate matter levels, especially, start to drop almost immediately. That’s important, because particulates kill a lot of people and make many more ill — even more than previously thought.

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