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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Could Cleaner Air Actually Intensify Global Warming?

As much of the world marked Earth Day this past week, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that air pollution has declined dramatically over the past 20 years. It sounds like good news, but science writer Eli Kintisch argues that there's a surprising downside: Cleaner air might actually intensify global warming.

"If we continue to cut back on smoke pouring forth from industrial smokestacks, the increase in global warming could be profound," Kintisch writes in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times.

Kintisch isn't talking about greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide; he's talking about another kind of pollutant we put in the sky -- "like aerosols from a spray can," he tells NPR's Guy Raz. "It turns out that those particles have a profound effect on maintaining the planet's temperature."

Greenhouse gases and aerosol pollutants work in opposing ways on the Earth's climate, Kintisch explains. "The greenhouse gases warm the planet when they're emitted, because they absorb heat reflected up from the ground -- the greenhouse effect. These aerosols, though, do the opposite. They block sunlight, they make clouds more reflective -- and by doing that, they actually cool the planet.

"The problem is that we're cutting the cooling pollution as we make our air cleaner," he says.

The Scope Of The Problem: Still A Mystery

Some scientists, he says, are confident that this is connected to global warming, but they don't know how large the effect is. "That's the frightening thing, because if it's a big cooling effect, it means that we've been actually warming the planet more than we know," Kintisch says. "As we take away that unexpectedly helpful cooling mask, we're going to be facing more global warming than we expected.

"If, however, the aerosol cooling is less than we fear, then it won't be such a big deal as we clean our air, though it will still be an effect."

The solution, of course, isn't to stop cutting air pollution. "We have to continue doing that, because these pollutants contribute to asthma, they contribute to respiratory diseases, they cause all sorts of health problems, and they make our environment dirty," he says. "But there's a variety of answers that are more sophisticated than simply continuing to pollute."

Gunk To The Rescue

One of those answers is pretty radical: injecting new pollutants into the stratosphere while we continue to clean up our emissions. It's one of the theories of "geoengineering" that Kintisch explores in his new book, Hack the Planet.

It sounds contradictory, but the idea is actually based on a natural polluter -- volcanoes. Kintisch points out that nearly 20 years before the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland shut down air traffic across Europe, a much bigger volcano in the Philippines affected the climate over a much broader area.

"In 1991, when Mount Pinatubo erupted, it put tons of sulfur into the stratosphere," he says. "Those sulfur aerosols cooled the planet."

So if we found ourselves in a climate crisis where oceans were rising rapidly and coastal areas were flooding, some scientists think "we could mimic the cooling effect of natural volcanoes and make man-made volcanoes by putting our own gunk, essentially, up in the upper atmosphere," Kintisch says.

"It's unclear whether we would be able to respond and actually stop a disintegrating ice sheet situation," he cautions. "However, some scientists think we're getting near that worse-case scenario right now."
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 08:20 PM
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Global warming is the biggest hoax known to mankind.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by M_D View Post
I swear nothing is good for us anymore and everything we do is wrong

So eat, drink and be marry for tomorrow we die

and ill drink to that, cheers

If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. ~ Thomas Jefferson

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 09:04 PM
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Global Warming is happening, I have a theory that stages back to the dinosaur's on why on why, and if this is right then there is nothing anyone can ever do about it.

I believe that the earth right now is below its natural temperature and Global Warming is simply the earth gradually heating back up slowly to is normal state and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it and here is why.

for millions of years before humans/mammals warm blooded creatures mostly populated the earth like they do now, Dinosaurs/Reptiles cold blooded creatures where the dominant creatures on the planet, this and other facts proves that the temp of the earth was much higher millions of years ago when cold blooded creatures thrived in the hotter temperature.

Then numerous natural disasters took place such as metor hits, super volcano's etc that caused many ice ages over the last few million years, this caused the earth to cool down, the cold blooded creatures gradually died off that needed the heat first the bigger ones like dinosaur's, only smaller reptiles such as snakes and lizards where able to survive the cold by been in the less effected and still warm areas of the planet deserts ect, and channelling underground to keep warm during the worse times of the ice age.

Finally we are at a stage now where the last of the ice is heating up and melting down more quickly on the caps, its took the earth 100's of thousand in not millions of years to recover to the stage where we are now at with a few minor set backs in the for of smaller ice ages within that time, and over these years thats when humans and other mammals, warm blooded creatures have evolved and thrived.

but without another ice age soon the earth will continue to heat up slowly and gradually accelerate its heat up process until it does once again reach it natural temperature which the past shows, is more suited to cold blooded reptiles.

Last edited by KillerShark1985; 04-26-2010 at 09:08 PM.
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