Pollution may be slowing global warming, researchers are reporting today, and a cleaner environment may soon speed it up.
Writing in the journal Nature, an international scientific team provides evidence suggesting that a reduction in haze from human causes may accelerate warming of the earth's atmosphere. The researchers said pollutants had held down the rate of global warming by absorbing and scattering sunlight.
"If people clean up the air, more warming will come blazing through," Jim Coakley, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, said yesterday in a telephone interview. Nature selected Dr. Coakley to write a commentary on the study.
The lesson is really quite simple – before we invest a gazillion dollars on a ‘solution’ for global warming, smog, or any of the thousands of other pet projects that special interest groups have, let’s make damn sure we know what the consequences are going to be.
It would really suck if we adopted an aggressive plan to reduce pollution that does serious harm to the economy only to find out that we are doing serious harm to the environment in the process.
That’s not to say that I think that we should give a free pass to all corporations to pollute however they see fit. My only point is that the environment is an incredibly complex entity that can’t be comprehended in simple sound bites like “global warming is bad” and “reduced CO2 is the answer to all of our problems.”
HatTip: Red Guy in a Blue State