The Great Paradox: Reduced air pollution has increased global warming because clean air does not contain aerosol particles that reflect sunlight and cool the Earth.
- Current pollution rates are 30% lower than they were in 2000
- However, this has led to an increase in global warming of carbon emissions
- Scientists have found that there is less haze in the atmosphere to block the sun’s radiation
- They propose using solar engineering to release aerosol particles into the atmosphere in an effort to combat climate change
Scientists have found a great paradox in nature – clean air promotes global warming, while pollution keeps our planet cool.
A team of international researchers determined that current pollution rates are 30 percent lower than they were in 2000, but global warming from carbon dioxide emissions has increased by up to 50 percent.
Pollution particles, such as sulfates or nitrates, are known for their reflective properties and are usually found in exhaust.
The team, in a desperate move, is proposing to resort to aerosols again, but using a controversial type of geoengineering to do so.
This method, called solar engineering, entails releasing sulfate particles into the stratosphere which, in turn, will create reflective haze around the world, Science.org reports.
The study, led by the University of Leipzig, provides good news for human health – these particles are linked to millions of deaths each year – but is bleak for what the future holds for humanity.
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While pollution has decreased by 20% since 2000, the resulting warming from carbon emissions has increased
The team found that ocean temperatures have risen since 2000, which they again say is because the world has adopted policies that reduce aerosol use.
Johannes Coas, a climate scientist at the University of Leipzig and lead author of the study, told Science.org that the study was conducted using instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua moons, both of which collect data on Earth’s atmosphere.
These devices also collect intelligence on radiation in and out of the Earth, allowing the study to understand the increase in infrared heat trapped by greenhouse gases.
Another instrument on satellites showed a decrease in reflective light from Earth.
Scientists used NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites (pictured) to study the atmosphere and found that there is less haze because the air is cleaner. Less fog means more radiation
Venkachalam Ramaswamy, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Laboratory of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, told Science.org that there can only be one explanation for this – cleaner air. Dynamics Lab. “It is very difficult to find alternative reasons for this,” he said.
All of this data allowed the team to analyze fog in the atmosphere, leading them to identify the fog over North America, Europe and East Asia that was largely removed from 2000 to 2019.
The findings sparked the idea of returning pollution particles to the atmosphere, which in turn would reflect solar radiation back into space and eventually limit or reverse human-caused climate change.
The team, in a desperate move, suggests resorting to aerosols again, but using controversial geoengineering to do so. This method was proposed by the Stratospheric Controlled Turbulence Experiment, which is funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
This method was proposed by the controlled turbulence experiment in the stratosphere, which is funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
This initial $3 million test will use a high-altitude science balloon to lift about four pounds of calcium carbonate dust — the size of a minute bag — into the atmosphere 12 miles above the New Mexico desert.
This would seed a tube-shaped area half a mile long and 100 yards in diameter.
Over the next 24 hours, the balloon will be guided by propellers again through this artificial cloud, as onboard sensors monitor the dust’s abilities to reflect the sun and its effects on the thin surrounding air.
However, SCoPEx is on hold, amid fears that it could trigger a catastrophic chain reaction, wreaking climate havoc in the form of severe droughts and hurricanes, and killing millions of people around the world.