The Great Paradox: Reductions in air pollution have INCREASED global warming because clean air does not contain aerosol particles that reflect sunlight and cool the Earth
- Current pollution rates are 30 percent lower than in 2000
- However, this has led to an increase in warming from carbon emissions
- Scientists found that there is less haze in the atmosphere that blocks solar radiation
- They propose using solar technology to launch aerosol particles into the atmosphere to combat climate change
Scientists have discovered a major paradox in nature – clean air fuels global warming while pollution keeps our planet cool.
A team of international researchers found that current pollution rates are 30 percent lower than in 2000, but warming from carbon emissions has increased by up to 50 percent.
Polluting particles such as sulfate or nitrate are known for their reflective properties and are typically found in exhaust gas.
In a desperate move, the team proposes to revisit aerosols, but using a controversial type of geoengineering to do so.
Dubbed solar engineering, this method involves injecting sulfate particles into the stratosphere, which in turn would create a reflective haze around the globe, reports Science.org.
The study, led by the University of Leipzig, brings good news for human health – these particles are linked to millions of deaths every year – but bleak for the future of humanity.
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While pollution has decreased by 20% since 2000, warming from carbon emissions has increased
The team found that ocean heat has increased since 2000, again as the world adopts policies that reduce the use of aerosols.
Johannes Quaas, 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 satellites, both of which collect data on Earth’s atmosphere.
These devices also collect information about the radiation coming in and out of the Earth, allowing the study to understand the increase in infrared heat trapped by greenhouse gases.
And another instrument on the satellites showed a decrease in reflected light coming from Earth.
Scientists studied the atmosphere with NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites (pictured) and found that there is less haze because the air is cleaner. Less haze means more radiation penetrates
Venkatachalam Ramaswamy, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, told Science.org that there could only be one explanation – the air is cleaner. Dynamics Laboratory. “It’s very difficult to find alternative reasons for this,” he said.
All of this data allowed the team to analyze the haze in the atmosphere, leading them to pinpoint the haze over North America, Europe and East Asia, which cleared dramatically from 2000 to 2019.
The findings sparked the idea of putting pollutant particles back into the atmosphere, which in turn would reflect solar radiation back into space, ultimately limiting or reversing human-caused climate change.
In a desperate move, the team proposes turning back to aerosols, but using controversial geoengineering to do so. This method was proposed by the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates
This method was proposed by the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
This first $3 million test would use a high-altitude scientific balloon to launch about four pounds of calcium carbonate dust — the size of a sack of flour — into the atmosphere 12 miles above the New Mexico desert.
This would seed a tubular region of sky half a mile long and 100 yards across.
For the next 24 hours, the balloon would be steered back through this artificial cloud by propellers, its onboard sensors monitoring both the dust’s solar reflectance and its effects on the thin surrounding air.
However, SCoPEx is being shelved amid fears it could set off a catastrophic series of chain reactions, causing climate devastation in the form of severe droughts and hurricanes and killing millions around the world.