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Now Clean Air Causes ‘Global Warming’

From the opinion section of the Los Angeles Times:

Why cleaner air could speed global warming

Aerosol pollution, which is now on the downswing, has helped keep the planet cool by blocking sunlight. Tackling another pollutant, soot, might buy Earth some time.

By Eli Kintisch

April 18, 2010

You’re likely to hear a chorus of dire warnings as we approach Earth Day, but there’s a serious shortage few pundits are talking about: air pollution. That’s right, the world is running short on air pollution, and if we continue to cut back on smoke pouring forth from industrial smokestacks, the increase in global warming could be profound.

Cleaner air, one of the signature achievements of the U.S. environmental movement, is certainly worth celebrating. Scientists estimate that the U.S. Clean Air Act has cut a major air pollutant called sulfate aerosols, for example, by 30% to 50% since the 1980s, helping greatly reduce cases of asthma and other respiratory problems.

But even as industrialized and developing nations alike steadily reduce aerosol pollution — caused primarily by burning coal — climate scientists are beginning to understand just how much these tiny particles have helped keep the planet cool. A silent benefit of sulfates, in fact, is that they’ve been helpfully blocking sunlight from striking the Earth for many decades, by brightening clouds and expanding their coverage. Emerging science suggests that their underappreciated impact has been incredible.

Researchers believe greenhouse gases such as CO2 have committed the Earth to an eventual warming of roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit, a quarter of which the planet has already experienced. Thanks to cooling by aerosols starting in the 1940s, however, the planet has only felt a portion of that greenhouse warming. In the 1980s, sulfate pollution dropped as Western nations enhanced pollution controls, and as a result, global warming accelerated.

There’s hot debate over the size of what amounts to a cooling mask, but there’s no question that it will diminish as industries continue to clean traditional pollutants from their smokestacks. Unlike CO2, which persists in the atmosphere for centuries, aerosols last for a week at most in the air. So cutting them would probably accelerate global warming rapidly.

In a recent paper in the journal Climate Dynamics, modelers forecast what would happen if nations instituted all existing pollution controls on industrial sources and vehicles by 2030. They found the current rate of warming — roughly 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade — doubled worldwide, and nearly tripled in North America.

Despite intransigence on carbon emissions, even China is taking aggressive steps to cut sulfate pollution, and temperatures have risen as a result.

But surely the answer can’t be to slow our drive to clean our air. One way to buy time might be to tackle another air pollutant that warms the planet: soot. In 2008, scientists estimated that so-called black carbon, soot’s prime component, is responsible for 60% more global warming above that caused by greenhouse gases. Cleaner-burning diesel engines in the West and more efficient cookstoves in the developing world are the answer. But on both scores, "relatively little has been done to address the problem," says the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force.

In the face of severe climate risks, credible scientists are beginning to study geo-engineering — tinkering with global systems to reduce warming directly. One scheme is to spew sulfates or other sun-blocking particles miles high in the stratosphere. If it worked, it would mimic the natural cooling effect of volcanoes, replacing the near-surface sulfate mask with a much higher one. But the possible side effects could be dire, including damage to the ozone layer. The potential geopolitical implications, like wars over the thermostat, could be devastating as well.

We might need geo-engineering to stave off the worst effects of the warming. But most climate scientists think we’re not there yet. And so the most important thing we can do now is to train our sights on both the unexpectedly helpful sulfates and the unexpectedly pernicious carbon. We can’t continue to only focus on traditional pollutants without reducing greenhouse emissions. We simply have to find a way to clean our air of both.

Eli Kintisch is the author of the just-published "Hack the Planet: Science’s Best Hope — or Worst Nightmare — for Averting Climate Catastrophe."

It really is to laugh.

Until you remember that nonsense like this will cost our country billions of dollars – and probably destroy our economy.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, April 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Now Clean Air Causes ‘Global Warming’”

  1. proreason says:

    They certainly are persistant.

    wikipedia: Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns

    Many of them are clearly insane.

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    But even as industrialized and developing nations alike steadily reduce aerosol pollution — caused primarily by burning coal

    I take opposition to this statement. I seriously doubt, based on what I’ve read over the past year that any industrialized nation outside of the freak-show is taking any steps at reducing emissions. In fact, China is most likely increasing emissions based on the number of new coal-burning plants alone. And they have all but given the greenies the finger in concert. Russia, India, etc., I’m sure couldn’t care less about “AGW” (such as it is) and instead are focusing on output, through-put and being productive. Only the whack-jobs in the US would believe that foreign governments, other than those in equally disturbed Europe, would pay anything but lip service to “the threat of AGW”.

    It is truly amazing that when you dissect the argument down to its base, the freaks believe that humankind is changing the Earth’s climate. That is arrogance and a power bestowed upon people in unprecedented weight.

    In light of the volcano on Iceland spewing forth more CO2 in one afternoon than mankind has in its entire existence, along with enormous quantities of noxious gasses, I think I’ll stick with the estimation that the Earth can cope and though we’ll have some cooler temps overall, the planet will most likely recover. It’s funny that way.

  3. MinnesotaRush says:

    Chicken Little: “Help, help! The sky is falling!”

    Global Warming Researcher: “Yes, Chiken Little. It is. In chunks.”

    Al Gore: “.. and we must tax each chunk.”

  4. proreason says:

    “the volcano on Iceland spewing forth more CO2 in one afternoon than mankind has in its entire existence”

    Is that true Rusty or your hunch? (note, even ole proreason occasionally confidently asserts something that he’s not 100% sure would stand up to a scientific objective analysis.)

    If it is true, isn’t it irrefutable evidence of the insignificance of mankind’s impact on the climate?

    • Rusty Shackleford says:


      “Volcanoes release more than 130 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.”

      Our impact as humans is negligible.

      From that bastion of technical accuracy, Wikipedia:

      “Up to 40% of the gas emitted by some volcanoes during subaerial eruptions is carbon dioxide.[24] It is estimated that volcanoes release about 130-230 million tonnes (145-255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. This is about a factor of 1000 smaller than the sum of the other natural sources and about factor of about 100 smaller than the sources from human activity.”

      So, 230 million x 1,000 = The quantity produced by other natural sources., which is still waaayyyyyyy more than humans produce.

      So somewhere in there, is human production of CO2. But it is nowhere near the amount that “scientists” claim and certainly not the source of global warming. Carl Sagan, rest his soul, is a single point of guilt for bringing up that the Earth could one day suffer the fate of Venus. Well, Venus is plenty closer to the Sun, has an atmosphere that’s pretty much 100% CO2, and it rains acid. Plus, it has a temperature of 900 deg F, hot enough to melt lead.

      Certain “Sky is falling” types, aiming to get funding found a way to make a crisis out of the research and get money to do so.

      So I stand corrected on my assumption, but in all, nature will always produce more CO2 than people ever will, including their machines. That assumption that PEOPLE have caused global warming since the industrial revolution began flies in the face of another interesting fact. That during the period when dinosaurs walked the Earth, CO2 was 75 times greater than it is now.

      Either Tyrannosaurus Rex had a totally tricked out ride or they flew around in very large airplanes that belched….well….who knows what they used for fuel since they hadn’t all died yet and turned into oil.

      And the kicker is…NO ONE KNOWS why there was 75 times more CO2 in the atmosphere than there is now.

      It’s just unbelievable to have so many arrogant people who think humans are changing the planet’s climate. It’s just ridiculous.

      There is a theory out there that has been getting no attention and that is that the solar system, being a free-floating entity, can be influenced by gravitational anomalies that perturb the orbits of planets. Thus keeping the Earth closer to the Sun. There is also dark matter, something that has long been suspected to exist and is now getting more support due to its effect with gravitational “lensing”.

      And my personal favorite is that the Sun, being a machine of nature, is also cyclical and is hotter and cooler over it’s little understood lifetime. Stars burn for billions of years. People, so far as I can recall, have been around for just a smidge of that. “Modern” humans even shorter. And fossil-fuel burning machines even less time.

      My money’s on the Sun.

      My own humble opinion is that nature is cyclical, we don’t know why the Earth is getting warmer, if in fact it is at all, and accurate temperature measurements have only really been in existence for about 100 years. Everything else before that is gleaned from written evidence from documents that mention it.

      There is no proof.

      The CO2 sample for the dinosaurs was most likely taken from rocks that had gasses in them since those times. So…might not be all that accurate, either.

    • proreason says:

      My take-away is that nature creates 10 times the amount of co2 that man creates.

      Nature is obviously racist.

  5. Liberals Demise says:

    I suppose when mankind goes the way of the dinosaur, will the next species
    to take over the earth stick the rectal thermometers in their mouth that fell out of the climatologists arse?

  6. U NO HOO says:

    I grew up in a “coal town.”

    I have no allergies, don’t sneeze much, had perfect attendance one year in school, etc.

    Would Al Gore and his ilky cronies stop lying, please?

    Thank you.

    PS, my father smoked in the house with the windows and doors closed.

  7. GetBackJack says:

    Mount Tambora eruption, a Class 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index

    Led to –


    Al Gore and his people are monkeys with hand grenades.

  8. skclewis says:

    It seems to me that we won’t hear much in the msm or from the global-smarming group about Mr. Kintisch’s article. It is counter to the prevailing “science” that clean air will reduce warming. Here in Kuwait his statements have merit. There is no industrial base spewing forth carbon emmissions. The major industry is oil refining. The only one sees here are the flames burning off the excess gases produced. Excepting the sandstorms, the air is clear and clean. Skys are blue and the sun shines radiantly on the earth. So much so that temperatures during the summer months average between 110F and 120F. Doesn’t sound like clean air produces cooling to me. Granted the environment is flat and desert, but when you get into Kuwait City where there are a lot of tall buildings, the ground temp feels even hotter due to the trapped hot air. So I have to imagine that in large cities in the U.S. where there are even more tall buildings similar temps could be expected if we had the same conditions in the atmosphere. Just a thought for consideration.

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