Pollution fights 'global warming'? Study finds smoke protects planet from greenhouse gases
June 10, 2003
It turns out there's a silver lining to the cloud of smog that drapes large cities around the world, as an international team of atmospheric scientists conclude pollution protects the planet from "global warming."
The revelation, reported by New Scientist, came out of a workshop in Dahlem, Berlin, earlier this month that was attended by the likes of Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin, the former chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.
"It looks like the warming today may be only about a quarter of what we would have got without aerosols," Crutzen told New Scientist. "You could say the cooling has done us a big favor."
The IPCC and other proponents of global warming believe the past century of human economic activities – especially the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal – have vastly increased the amount of carbon dioxide, which traps heat in the Earth's atmosphere. Proponents say this acceleration of the "greenhouse effect," has caused an estimated increase in the Earth's temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius.
Using computer models, the IPCC predicts this global warming could amount to an increase in the earth's average temperature by as much as 10.4 degrees over the next century. The panel has warned the long term consequences of this warming range from warmer winters and hotter summers to the melting of the polar icecaps and a rise in mean sea level that will inundate coastal cities and cause devastating droughts, floods, violent storms and spark outbreaks of cholera and malaria.
According to New Scientist, IPCC scientists have long suspected aerosols, particles from burning rainforests, crop waste and fossil fuels that block sunlight counteract the warming effect of carbon dioxide emissions by about 25 percent.
Now the news out of the Berlin workshop is the aerosols thwart 75 percent of the warming effect. That would mean they prevented the planet from becoming almost two degrees warmer than it is now.
Scientists examined direct measurements of the cooling effect of aerosols reported in the May issue of Science by Theodore Anderson of the University of Washington in Seattle. Earlier calculations only had been inferred from "missing" global warming predicted by climate models.
The IPCC's global-warming theory has been widely disputed.
WorldNetDaily has reported that Dr. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, maintains there has been little or no warming since about 1940.
In 1998, 17,000 scientists signed a petition circulated by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, saying, in part, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."
Then in January 2002, the journal Science published the findings of scientists who had been measuring the vast West Antarctic ice sheet. The researchers found that the ice sheet is growing thicker, not melting.
The journal Nature published similar findings by scientist Peter Doran and his colleagues at the University of Illinois. Rather than using the U.N.'s computer models, the researchers took actual temperature readings and discovered temperatures in the Antarctic have been getting slightly colder – not warmer – for the last 30 years.
Last September, U.S. scientists based at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station announced that, finally, they have been able to measure the temperature of the atmosphere 18 to 68 miles over the pole. They found it to be 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit colder than the computer models used to predict global warming showed.
Still, the IPCC remains resolute in its campaign for lower emission standards to combat global warming it continues to predict to be up to 10 degrees by the end of the century.
New Scientist reports the scientists gathered in Berlin deduced the Earth's sensitivity is actually greater than believed because the pollution is "giving us a false sense of security."
While most aerosol emissions stay in the atmosphere a few days, most greenhouses gases hang around for a century. The panel noted that health conscious policies are leading to a reduction in aerosol emissions and warned that in the absence of aerosols, global warming could be as much as three times current estimates of 3 to 4 degrees by the end of the century.
"We need to get on top of the greenhouse gas-emissions problem sooner rather than later," Will Steffen of the Swedish Academy of Sciences told New Scientist.
"Spending any money at all to curb CO2 emissions is a complete waste of time," Dr. Arthur Robinson, professor of chemistry at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, told WorldNetDaily last year amid hype over the U.N.-U.S. diplomatic row over the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty that seeks global regulation of emissions.
"There is absolutely not a shred of evidence that humans are
causing any change in the climate by generating CO2," he said.
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