Good-Bye, Cool World
Scientist Warns That Decreasing Air Pollution Means Increased Warming
Jeez, we really can’t catch a break, can we? A German scientist now warns that air pollution is masking the true extent of global warming — and as air pollution is reduced, warming may accelerate. Addressing the 13th World Clean Air and Environmental Protection Congress in London this week, Meinrat Andreae said that aerosols in the atmosphere (tiny particles, typically sulfur or carbon, that humans create by burning oil and wood) reflect light back into space, keeping the planet cooler and offsetting global warming from greenhouse gases. “We’ve been in an accelerating car with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas,” Andreae said. But the relatively short-lived aerosols are expected to diminish in coming decades, while long-lasting greenhouse gases will continue to accumulate, meaning global warming may “follow the upper extremes of current … estimates, and may even exceed them.” He recommended an immediate and sharp decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Novel idea!
Get Grist in your inbox