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Cleaner Air Could Speed Global Warming

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the caught-between-asthma-and-the-rising-sea dept.

Earth 344

Hugh Pickens writes "Scientists estimate that the US Clean Air Act has cut a major air pollutant, sulfate aerosols, by 30% to 50% since the 1980s, helping greatly reduce cases of asthma and other respiratory problems. But NPR reports that this good news may have a surprising downside: cleaner air might actually intensify global warming. One benefit of sulfates is that they've been helpfully blocking sunlight from striking the Earth for many decades, by brightening clouds and expanding their coverage. Researchers believe greenhouse gases such as CO2 have committed the Earth to an eventual warming of roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit, a quarter of which the planet has already experienced. But thanks to cooling by aerosols starting in the 1940s, the planet has felt only a portion of that warming. And unlike CO2, which persists in the atmosphere for centuries, aerosols last in the air for a week at most, so cutting them would probably rapidly accelerate global warming. The author of 'Hack the Planet' says: 'As we take away that unexpectedly helpful cooling mask, we're going to be facing more global warming than we expected.'"

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Everything! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995594)

I'm getting pretty tired of everything causing/amplifying global warming. We're fucked, we get it it!

Fuck You Global Warming (0, Flamebait)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995618)

We tried all kinds of shit to satisfy your mythical existence and you just keep on whining. Going to buy two cases of Aqua-Net right now and spray em all night long.

Re:Fuck You Global Warming (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995748)

So do we need to take Bender's lead and start to pollute like we've never polluted before?

Re:Fuck You Global Warming (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996262)

So do we need to take Bender's lead and start to pollute like we've never polluted before?

Only if it's the right kind of pollution. Small particles high in the upper atmosphere is what we need.

Re:Fuck You Global Warming (4, Funny)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996376)

You mean something like volcano ash, but higher?

Hmm... maybe we need a bigger volcano...

Re:Everything! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995758)

At least they didn't somehow make it an iphone news.

Re:Everything! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995894)

actually, we just need one good volcanic eruption (not just getting to first base like the one in Iceland) and the whole manmade global warming myth is truly exposed for the emperor's-new-clothes of junk-science that it is. With the exception of Pinatubo/Hudson, there has been almost no volcanic activity in over 100 years. Another Laki or Krakatau and the the religion of socialism/parasitism will have to go back to the drawing board to find a new raison d'etre for hating libertarian capitalism. If it turns out to be another Yellowstone Caldera then we're all dead, so I won't get the pleasure of pointing out how stupid they are.

Re:Everything! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996458)

Informative post

modded down

on Slashdot

how surprising

If we are to err (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995614)

If we are to err, I'd rather we erred on the side of clean air than polluted air.

Re:If we are to err (1)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995938)

...whereas I would rather stave off global warming, so if anyone needs me, I'll be outside emptying cans of hair spray, bug poison, and cooking oil into the atmosphere.

If we are to air (4, Funny)

zaydana (729943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995978)

If we are to err, I'd rather we erred on the side of clean err than polluted err.

Wow.. (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995616)

First they say using more paper is good for the environment now this. I can't wait till a study says fish with more mercury are healthy for you.

Re:Wow.. (4, Funny)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995706)

If the media has taught me anything, it's that every single substance, whether artificial or naturally occurring, both causes and cures cancer.

Re:Wow.. (3, Informative)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995892)

There really are some studies suggesting small amounts of mercury, and other heavy metals, may be healthy.

Hormetic Effects of Heavy Metals in Aquatic Snails: Is a Little Bit of Pollution Good?
http://www.springerlink.com/content/y54l3x43016p6530/ [springerlink.com]

The Changing Science of Toxicology -- Hormesis Makes a Comeback
http://www.mongabay.com/external/toxicology_1203.htm [mongabay.com]

Wikipedia entry regarding hormesis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis [wikipedia.org]

Ron

Trolls. Everywhere. (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995636)

Climate change scientists have now resorted to trolling us.

Seriously. Cleaner air is bad for the planet? Shut up. As someone who has asthma, this pisses me off. I like breathing, thanks. Stop wasting time blaming the Clean Air Act and look at practical ways to cut carbon emissions in ways that don't knock us back to the stone age.

KTHXBAI.

--
BMO

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995652)

Come to think of it, it could be bad for us but not for the planet since it had been worse before.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995678)

I actually heard an interview with this guy the other day. His point is not that we need to stop cutting pollution, it does cause a lot of respiratory diseases and various other forms of environmental damage.

it's just another effect that needs to be taken into account.

His thing is geo-engineering though, so his take is that this means we must start geo-engineering now.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1, Troll)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995780)

>His thing is geo-engineering though

OH YEAH NOW I REMEMBER. *smacks forehead*

I did hear part of that broadcast! I kept swearing at him! He's the king of "what could possibly go wrong?"

He's a troll. No question about it. We don't know enough to do geo-engineering and anything we do know puts us in the position of "knowing just enough to be a danger to ourselves." It's like understanding Maxwell's Equations and suddenly deciding to troubleshoot a substation.

And one of his points was once we start, we can't possibly stop doing it because the effect will go away. He forgets that John Martin was using his best Dr. Strangelove accent while saying "give me half a tanker of iron and I'll give you an ice age."

Yo, dude, John Martin was ONLY KIDDING!

The fact he got actual airtime on NPR makes me angry.

--
BMO

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995698)

Seriously. Cleaner air is bad for the planet? Shut up. As someone who has asthma, this pisses me off. I like breathing, thanks. Stop wasting time blaming the Clean Air Act and look at practical ways to cut carbon emissions in ways that don't knock us back to the stone age.

This will probably sound wrong, or at least politically incorrect but... Cleaner air can speed global warming while still killing everyone who suffers from asthma.

Natural facts don't usually care about consequences on human health.

So, I think you're point should be more oriented towards something like: "The fact that cleaner air, which we need, may have a cooling effect, should only make us fight much stronger against the original sources of the warming itself."

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995838)

That would be exactly the scientists point.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (4, Insightful)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995716)

I didn't see anyone saying that we should start pumping aerosols into the atmosphere again. They're just saying it will have an effect. Would you prefer scientists that pretend nothing good ever has a downside?

Dumb paper: it's been known for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995950)

Dumb paper: it's been known for decades. Without that knowledge the increase in temperatures in the 70's couldn't be explained. GCMs already use particulates to model the climate and have done so since before Hansen's 1980 model.

And so what? The residence time of aerosols means that you only integrate the last week or two's output, so all you've done is delay warming AS LONG AS YOU KEEP POLLUTING. CO2 integrates over centuries.

Re:Dumb paper: it's been known for decades (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996106)

so all you've done is delay warming AS LONG AS YOU KEEP POLLUTING.

And that's exactly the point isn't it? The article is about how as we stop polluting so much, the temperature will increase some because the pollution won't protect us from it anymore (I feel like "protect" might be the wrong word). Am I missing something?

Re:Dumb paper: it's been known for decades (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996406)

Actually, no. The point is that:

1. We've been pumping out pollution that causes global warming
2. We've been pumping out pollution that counteracted the global warming to a degree
3. We've stopped doing 2. but we're still doing 1.

When Trolls Fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996030)

Actually there are scientists that have proposed exactly that. They want to pump sulfur compounds into the atmosphere [theatlantic.com] , including. When I heard this, also on NPR, I wanted to scream, "What about acid rain you stupid fuckers!?" Of course the cost/benefit ratio is presented as favorable... in terms of percentage of GDP v. possible projected cost of dealing with property damage. There was no mention of ecology, public health or economic harm from acidification of the oceans or fresh water systems.

Listening to NPR has become an exercise in tedium at times. It's not as bad as listening to the fat, bald, 'recovering' drug addict that the Tea Baggers wanted to install as the titular head of the Republican party, but sometimes it's close.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (-1, Troll)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996046)

I'd prefer that climate scientists condemn the use of known bad data. In making the hockey stick, Mann wanted to make the medieval warm period look cooler so he found some tree rings that gave falsely low temperatures for the last 50 years, and used those tree rings to show that temperatures were low a thousand years ago. If climate scientists had and would, cut Mann loose and condemn the use of known bad data, it would help their cause, but since they won't, climate scientists have no credibility.

Amazingly they make excuses for Mann. If Exxon had wanted to make the medieval warm period look really hot and had found tree rings that showed the medieval warm period was very hot, but the rings gave falsely high temps for the last 50 years, Exxon would be accused of murder. But it's OK for a climate scientist to do that.

One of their excuses is that some of the tree rings don't have the false temps for the last few decades, and still show a cool medieval warm period. But if that's true then they should just use those rings and leave out the rings that give errors. That they refuse to leave out the bad rings makes me doubt they can get the result they want without them.

Another one of their excuses is that other proxies show similar temperatures. But since almost all the climate scientists support the use of known bad tree rings, why should we trust the other studies from the same gang. That would be like Exxon giving the excuse that they can use bad tree rings because Shell Oil did a sediment study that found the same result.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995756)

Also don't forget that global warming will cause an ice age.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995784)

To paraphrase George Carlin, the planet has been here for what? 4 and a half billion years, and we've been here a hundred thousand years, maybe 200 thousand. And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over 200.
Do the math. If the entire age of the Earth was reduced to one calendar year, when did humans appear?

December 31st, 11:59pm.

The planet isn't going anywhere.

*** WE ARE. ***

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (3, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995952)

Eminently put. The planet is not in trouble, global warming or not. The planet has been much hotter and much colder, with significantly different atmospheric conditions (higher CO2, higher O2, vastly different contents pre-O2, etc), not to mention the continents that have been in vastly different positions. In fact, the time we are living in is comparably speaking an anomaly. For most of the time since the Earth was formed, there has been no ice on this planet whatsoever.

So the Earth is absolutely not in trouble. We, on the other hand, might be in trouble. If the worst predictions of the climate scientists become reality, sea level rises may destroy a lot of our fixed infrastructure, such as cities. Humanity will likely survive, but life wouldn't be as easy as now.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

fredrik70 (161208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996340)

I agree that the planet itself in not in trouble. However the current ecosystem is in a bit of peril, some say that we're currently living through the 6 great extinction of earth, but iirc the jury is still out on that one.
Anyway, nothing like a global spring cleaning once in a while! ;-)

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (4, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996432)

>>However the current ecosystem is in a bit of peril, some say that we're currently living through the 6 great extinction of earth, but iirc the jury is still out on that one.

Yeah. While species are going extinct, it's not the "10,000 species a day going extinct" bullshit I heard every time I went to the San Diego Zoo back in the 1980s. The study for that number was based on insect surveys. They dug up a 10 meter square patch of earth, counted the species, then counted them again the next year. Stag horn beetles moved 30' away? They're extinct!

It's one of those memes that everyone knows, but doesn't know just how badly that number was derived.

The actual number of species going extinct is actually very hard to calculate, but it's nowhere near these humans-are-evil numbers tossed around by tree huggers. Just by way of reference, there's only a million animal species or ten on the planet. If these numbers were true, there'd be negative 90 million species left by today.

And so you're worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996026)

And so you're worthless. The earth existed without you for billions of years, so why bother keeping you healthy, just close the hospitals and save money. Humanity never made a difference to the earth anyway, so fixing them is a waste of time.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (3, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995826)

This has been well known science for many decades. Since long before the media cared about it. So I doubt it is a media scare or Climate change trolls.

I don't think anyone is arguing we repeal the clean air act or anything like that. We all like breathing. Also it really wouldn't help. It'd be like if your house caught fire and to avoid death you go to another room. Sure it helps you ignore the problem a few minutes at best, but you aren't doing fuck all to put out the fire. (apologies for the shitty analogy, where is BadAnalogyGuy when you need him?)

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995872)

Seriously? You DO realize just how petty you sound. Right? Facts don't change their truth value just because they piss you off or inconvenience you. The universe really couldn't give a shit whether or not you have asthma, or whether or not you choked and died because of it.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995914)

Seriously? You think this is the climate change guys trolling? Why doesn't it suggest a polluter who wants to go back to the cheap & dirty way of doing things?

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996070)

Climate change scientists have now resorted to trolling us.

Seriously. Cleaner air is bad for the planet? Shut up.

It would be nice if it were simple, wouldn't it? If we could just say "pollution bad, stopping pollution all good effects."

Grow up. Reality is often quite a bit more complicated than we'd like it. Wshat seem like mixed messages mirror that. Cholesterol can be good and bad, different types. People shouldn't use heroin, but for a small subset of users, sudden withdrawal can actually cause death. Antibiotics kill bacteria in an infected patient, but if you dump in enough drugs to kill all the bugs at once the patient could also die because of an immune response to a chemical released by the dying bacteria.

It's entirely possible that some pollutants are currently having good effects, and when we clean up our act things will get worse before they get better. Shooting the messengers is an immature response.

Anyway, this business about this pollutant countering global warming has been known since the early 90's at least [google.com] . It's not like the scientists just suddenly made this up, you just weren't paying attention until it showed up on slashdot.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

lec8rje (1078775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996138)

I hate to add any more complexity to this but http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8013709.stm [bbc.co.uk] it seems like plants like some of this pollution too :)

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996224)

I knew Bush was smarter than he seemed, that's why he passed the NSR rollback initiative, he must have known all that extra pollution (aerosols) would actually impede global warming... and here I was thinking he was just doing it to help business at the expense of my health and the environment.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996250)

You should look a little more into the information instead of your feelings. Don't get so upset just because something isn't what you wanted to hear.

This information has been discussed for over a decade now. It is called Global Dimming. There is a great video on Nova about it if you want to learn.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996290)

Cleaner air is bad for the planet?

Good and bad isn't as one-dimensional as that. Things that are good for one thing, may turn out to be bad for something else. Alcohol, for example, is good for your heart and blood pressure, but bad for your liver. Same thing with some kinds of pollution. Some kinds of pollution may block some of the sun's rays from entering our atmosphere, which slows global warming. But then again, they may hurt the ozone layer, causing more skin cancer.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

Evtim (1022085) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996346)

What's the fucking point you are trying to make? The global dimming effect is known for years. This is no news to me at all. Only ostriches with their heads in the sand have missed this.

Every agricultural society that relies on open irrigation (canals, not pipes underground) measures every single day how much water evaporates per unit surface in direct sunlight. For decades. They noticed the decreased intensity of the sunlight already in the 60's and 70's. In Israel, Russia, Greece and basically everywhere, where someone cared to measure.

The effect is twofold - on one hand you have "gray optical filter". On the other, sooth particles in the air on altitude where clouds are forming act as "seeds" for droplet generation and shift the droplet size distribution towards bigger droplets, thus changing (positively) the reflective properties of the clouds, i.e. more light is reflected back in space. Add to that the effect of the aircraft trails, which we seem to have underestimated.

And for the other AC idiot above , read this http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/19/eyjafjallajokull-volcano-climate-carbon-emissions

I really tired of people pushing their delusions, desires, anxieties, laziness and so onto reality. WE ALL ARE GOING TO HELL because of you , idiots, who do not live in the real world. Wake up, for crying out loud!!!

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996538)

WE ALL ARE GOING TO HELL because of you , idiots, who do not live in the real world.

Do you mean hell as in, it stinks of sulfur, and it's *STILL* too warm to live :-) ?

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (0)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996392)

Seriously. Cleaner air is bad for the planet? Shut up. As someone who has asthma, this pisses me off. I like breathing, thanks. Stop wasting time blaming the Clean Air Act and look at practical ways to cut carbon emissions in ways that don't knock us back to the stone age.

Yeah, it is. I actually lectured on this last Thursday (and tomorrow). The Clean Air Act is responsible in part for the spike in temperatures we got after, well, the Clean Air Act. Particulate matter is responsible for about a -0.3c to -0.5c temperature forcing (though it varies quite a bit when you get things like Pinatubo blowing off), and have been decreasing steadily in the last 40 years. I'm not saying belching smokestacks were a good thing, but a lot of the bullshit worry over global warming came as a result of temperature reaching a higher equilibrium from lowered particulate count as well as forcing from higher CO2 levels (which have contributed about +0.8C in forcing since the late 1800s. The actual numbers are doubled, but the oceans act as a buffer for a lot of the heat, so you only expect to see about half the gain from the forcings.

So yeah, the Greens are responsible for Global Warming: the Clean Air Act, the SUV, and the massive CO2 output from energy production are all so-called "environmentalists" fault.

Citations available upon request. My presentation is about 60 slides, for two days of lecture.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996422)

Citations available upon request. My presentation is about 60 slides, for two days of lecture.

Considering how the denialists tend to be in the "free market will take care of it" and the "ohnoes, the economy" camp I'd humbly suggest you charge some serious money for your presentation.

After all, any document that hasn't been bought isn't worth reading, right? ;-)

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

Ofloo (1378781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996426)

They're probably right, however you've got to start somewhere when to fix something people usually make a mes, we can do nothing and continue to make it worse or make a mess and fix the problem. There is no way fixing something without making a mess and the longer you wait the bigger the mess you make fixing it.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996430)

Especially you -- you seem to be an oil industry troll. I mean:

look at practical ways to cut carbon emissions in ways that don't knock us back to the stone age

Meh.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996440)

The thing is, the air you're breathing is down here - which is where the vast majority of pollution is created. The sun-blocking sulphur compounds need to be up there. A fact which is clearly not mentioned at all in TFS.

Re:Trolls. Everywhere. (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996496)

Where does it say that? Did you even read the summary or TFA?

mah nizzuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995642)

why don't you globally warm them?

A little known fact (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995656)

It is a little know fact that, given the uncertainties of what is happening in our climate system, the warming seen over the last few decades is entirely attributable to the reduction in aerosols in recent years. This is mentioned in WGI chapter 2 of the IPCC report. Of course, that fact didn't make it into the "Summary for Policy Makers." In fairness I should mention that the chances of the temperature change being entirely attributable to the change in aerosols is actually quite low, but it's still something worth considering.

*sigh* (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995718)

Allow me to make most of Slashdot let out a very loud sigh when I say...

Correlation does not necessarily imply causation!

Re:*sigh* (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995818)

it's not a correlation you numbskull, it's a demonstrated cause.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995830)

It doesn't imply non-causation either, so the connection is still something worth considering, which is all the parent said. *un-sigh*

Re:*sigh* (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995856)

Yeah fuck statistics and the scientific method too. All I need is my truthyness to lead the way, if I know it in my gut to be true then who is stats to say otherwise.

The reason we sigh is because your point is fucking stupid. The IPCC has scientists involved that know statistics one would assume. This has been worked out. Unless you are saying the temperature magically changes over time which causes a variety of things to change, like the sun's brightness and seasons or even day/night as causes of the temperature.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996380)

I'm sure you already know then that most of the IPCC was written by politicians, not scientists. And most of those scientists don't have a degree in mathematics, or statistics. But then again I'm just point out the obvious.

Re:A little known fact (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996082)

I think perhaps we will discover, that as with much in life, it isn't "entirely attributable" to any one thing, but a combination. Seems a lot in the world is that way. So it may be that some of it is CO2, some of it is less particulates, some of it is solar output, some of it is inaccuracies in temperature data, and so on. To me it seems likely that there may be multiple factors affecting a highly complex system, as well as the fact that our measurements are not 100% accurate. I find it a bit odd that I haven't seen more research along these lines. Simply concentrating on a single factor seems rather short sighted.

Re:A little known fact (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996230)

It is a little know fact that, given the uncertainties of what is happening in our climate system, the warming seen over the last few decades is entirely attributable to the reduction in aerosols in recent years. This is mentioned in WGI chapter 2 of the IPCC report

Oh really? Since you conveniently neglected to link to anything even vaguely supporting your claim, here's one and it does NOT say what you said.

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-2-1.html [www.ipcc.ch]

Re:A little known fact (4, Interesting)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996298)

It is a little know fact that, given the uncertainties of what is happening in our climate system, the warming seen over the last few decades is entirely attributable to the reduction in aerosols in recent years. This is mentioned in WGI chapter 2 of the IPCC report. Of course, that fact didn't make it into the "Summary for Policy Makers." In fairness I should mention that the chances of the temperature change being entirely attributable to the change in aerosols is actually quite low, but it's still something worth considering.

Yeah, it's odd that an ~18 page summary for nonscientists doesn't include all the nuances in a ~1000 page report filled with scientific jargon.

The summary's forcing chart [www.ipcc.ch] clearly shows a huge, lopsided error bar on the cloud albedo effect, and lists the Level Of Scientific Understanding as "low". This is a copy of figure 2.20 on page 203 of chapter 2. In both charts, notice that the CO2 forcing is very large and known far more precisely.

The particular statement you found, that "the warming seen over the last few decades is entirely attributable to the reduction in aerosols in recent years" isn't something I've seen in chapter 2. The bottom panel of figure 2.22 on page 206 seems like the closest match to your statement, but it's a projection based on emissions over 20 years in the future. Could you specify the page number where you found your statement?

I'll note that your claim isn't necessarily contradicted by figure 2.20 because that's the radiative forcing integrated from 1750-2005, whereas you're referring to something like 1985-2005... right?

How many comments before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995668)

...before someone interprets this as "Global Warmers Demand Dirty Air"?

Shit, already happened. Gotta love spinning.

Deja'vu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995702)

Wasn't exactly this story on here yesterday or something? Or was this $something_else is also causing global warming?

And why hasn't anyone noticed that the next ice-age is due soon, and maybe it might be a good idea to do something about it?

Re:Deja'vu? (3, Funny)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995738)

why hasn't anyone noticed that the next ice-age is due soon, and maybe it might be a good idea to do something about it?

Martinis and beer are why. They're both better cold.

Was seen in 2001 (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995720)

I believe this was observed during the moratorium on air flight in the two days after 9/11. I don't think it speeds global warming. Its is just a constant temperature drop if you take away pollution.

Re:Was seen in 2001 (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995870)

Actually, what was observed was an increase in the temperature gradient. The days were warmer and the nights were cooler. This is not a big surprise, as anyone who lives in a continental climate can tell you, it gets colder when the clouds aren't around. Deserts are hot during the day and cold at night for the same reasons.

It's still interesting. But simply another factor to include in the equation. It's getting time that we stop re-talking about something that's been known for years (almost a decade!) and start worrying about solutions. If it gets the ball rolling any quicker, you can all just blame me for global warming. Beat me with a windmill. Inject me with strange hormones. Just get over the finger pointing and move on.

Re:Was seen in 2001 (1)

Muros (1167213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995920)

That was different. The changes seen after September 2001 were to do with fewer clouds being seeded by jet exhaust contrails. Taken in isolation that could have been seen as evidence that jets cool the planet by increasing cloud cover; we know that the greenhouse effects of the exhaust outweigh such cooling. Back on topic, I'm sure this will be seized upon by some as evidence that climate scientists haven't a clue what they're talking about, when in fact it is something that has been known and understood for quite a long time, in effect if not in exact magnitude, and factored into climate models.

Re:Was seen in 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995966)

Nice try. Pinatubo and Hudson had a lot more to do with 1991 than 2 days without air travel.

Shit the Terrorists Win Again (0, Offtopic)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995752)

So clearly the only answer to climate change is Repressive Legislation. Substance doesn't matter, as long as it sucks.

get their stories straight (1)

mateomiguel (614660) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995754)

There's so much confusion about global warming now I feel like just telling people to shut up for 10 years until they get their stories straight. And maybe pick a different name. I just read an article that global warming isn't really a good description of what's going to be going on. Supposedly. Now, some air pollution causes global warming but also air pollution prevents global warming, so what? huh?

Re:get their stories straight (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995762)

Air pollution (gases like co2) accelerate global warming.

Air pollution (dust and other stuff that blocks sunlight) slow global warming (aka "global dimming").

Whether or not humans are contributing to this is not an issue I'll get into but these two points are fairly obvious to anyone with half a clue.

Re:get their stories straight (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996088)

Calling CO2 "pollution" is stretching the limits of the word. It's a greenhouse gas, but pollution implies something that "doesn't belong there" and isn't a good fit, IMO. Would you call O2 pollution?

Frankly, I think it's incredible that plants can live as well as they do considering how little of the atmosphere consists of CO2.

Re:get their stories straight (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996142)

I'm inclined to agree but since mateomiguel used that term I decided to stick with it.

Re:get their stories straight (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995916)

The effect of aerosols alluded to in the article has been known for a loooong time. The late 60s ~ early 70s. To act as if they are changing their mind is a media ploy at best.

Oh and some things have been known to cool the climate for CENTURIES. Volcanoes release ash into the air which shades the planet and lowers temperatures.

It was called global warming because the planet is going to get warmer ON AVERAGE. But it isn't a simple system, some places might get colder. And because stupid people (re fox news) see snow and think omg, global warming is BS. It sorta got renamed global climate change. To reflect that weather changes (the overall average climate being warmer).

Re:get their stories straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995932)

this just in! the world is composed of a complicated series of nonlinear interrelated events and phenomena!

...life must be pretty tough for you

Re:get their stories straight (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996132)

There's so much confusion about global warming now I feel like just telling people to shut up for 10 years until they get their stories straight.

THEY DID! Here [washington.edu] is a paper about this very phenomenon from 1991. Almost two decades.

Furthermore, most of us don't actually find it that confusing. "Some pollutants actually cool down instead of warm, but they don't last as long as the ones that warm" is something a child could understand. If you are confused, then take your own advice and wait to comment on climate issues for 10 years until you understand them.

Focus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995786)

So why does this get reported but not this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7601929/Climategate-a-scandal-that-wont-go-away.html [telegraph.co.uk] I think the fact that up to 1/3 of the claims in the IPCC report may be utter bullshit is rather more relevant to the debate then some nonsense about clean air speeding up global warming. Disclaimer: I know certain emissions slow global warming. Chill out.

Re:Focus? (1)

rmushkatblat (1690080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995802)

Err. Totally didn't mean to comment as anon, shit.

Re:Focus? (1)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996042)

I call at least slightly bogus on that "report". I'm not trying to be an apologist for some of the bone headed mistakes in the IPCC (the WWF references are pretty inexcusable), but "Working Paper" doesn't mean that it hasn't been published. An alternative (and very European) definition is synonymous with "technical report", usually by some government institution.

While these may not be peer reviewed, despite what the IPCC originally said, they aren't "papers in progress" or "drafts".

Just a little nitpick in her article. I would also like her to publish a full list of the 1/3 of the the claims for others to check her work, until then, I see a handful of things she has posted on the web that I agree that many are dubious.

However, most of them are from the smaller sections of the report that were more addendums than anything else. The main information is still solid. Working group 1, by far the largest section of the report and containing almost all of the important information and findings, scored As and Bs on her "report card" for every chapter.

Sulfur aerosols also cause ozone depletion (3, Insightful)

jsse (254124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995794)

IANAS but to the best of my knowledge sulfur aerosols also trigger a complex chemical reaction with notorious pollutant chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) that generates chlorine monoxide (ClO) which destroys ozone.

Destroying ozone is bad? Right? Or scientists would say otherwise? May be that's the major reason why scientists didn't recommend to trigger volcano eruption to negate greenhouse effect back in 90s? Now there're scientists told me aerosols are good? I'm not sure whom to trust anymore.

Anyone would help me citing are welcome, as I've already transformed the corresponding references into carbon dioxide which joined the greenhouse gas party in the heaven.

Re:Sulfur aerosols also cause ozone depletion (3, Informative)

jlehtira (655619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995992)

Destroying ozone is bad? Right? Or scientists would say otherwise? May be that's the major reason why scientists didn't recommend to trigger volcano eruption to negate greenhouse effect back in 90s? Now there're scientists told me aerosols are good? I'm not sure whom to trust anymore.

You are confused because you try to reduce reality to one-dimensional values ranging from good to bad.

Destroying ozone means there will be more skin cancer, some animals will die more and people need to start avoiding sunlight. However, destroying ozone in some specific way can very well also mean less climate change, and thus less abandoned cities and hunger and healthier ecosystems.

There's no contradiction. Further, it's not in the realm of science to even debate whether some result is good or bad. I think originally scientists said that destroying ozone will logically lead to all kinds of things, and then politicians decided those things are bad and should be avoided.

Re:Sulfur aerosols also cause ozone depletion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996016)

has cut a major air pollutant, sulfate aerosols, by 30% to 50% since the 1980s, helping greatly reduce cases of asthma and other respiratory problems

Horseshit, pure fucking horseshit. What they don't mention is that the Albuterol rescue/control inhalers used by the vast majority of asthma patients used aerosol propellants. They had to stop making those because it supposedly was depleting the ozone layer, so the claim that such aerosols caused asthma problems is pure crap. Once the aerosol inhalers went out of production the only alternative is an HFC propellant which doesn't work nearly as well, and is of course a Name Brand "drug" so instead of paying $5 for an inhaler we get to pay premium prescription prices at $80 a pop, and they don't last as long or dispense as well so you end up using nearly twice as many.

Don't take this the wrong way, I have no problem removing aerosols from hair spray or other fairly non-essential products (especially when there are other options that work just as well), but the refusal to leave an option in place for use in necessary medical equipment just goes to show that these laws are much more about politics than science or logic.

Fry: "Well, it looks like Earth..."
Leela: "But where are all the cities, and the pollution?"
Prof Farnsworth: "And what's with this layer of Ozone? That's never been there before!!"

Re:Sulfur aerosols also cause ozone depletion (2, Insightful)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996366)

Why can't people understand that stuff can both be good and bad at the same time?

And CFC's(r12, r22 etc) have been banned and replaced with alternatives that don't contain chlorine. So the sulfur aerosols don't really have mush CFC to "trigger".

i.e sulfur aerosols was bad in the 90s because we had mush Chlorofluorocarbon in the atmosphere.

Come On! (0)

BonquiquiShiquavius (1598579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995832)

Dear Science Community,

I never thought I'd say this, but...HIRE A GODDAMN PR CONSULTANT ALREADY! I hate PR bullshit...I really do...but honestly, after arguing myself blue in the face with my right-wing relatives that environmentalism transcends politics and just because I like clean air and a healthy earth, doesn't make me a commie, publishing a single report that wildly contradict previous findings makes it practically impossible to defend you. I understand the unwillingness to hold back data/findings because of politics, but even a rookie PR guy will warn you about the dangers of publishing a single report that purportedly negates all previous recommendations.

I'm not asking you to cover up findings and/or only publish reports that further your political agenda...just to maybe take the findings of the experiment a few steps further - run several more tests to ensure the validity of the findings, and then propose reasonable recommendations for future policy.

Simply leaving the conclusion of the report at "Sorry guys, you know how we told you that we were all going to die if we don't outlaw sulfate aerosols? Yeah, well, we were wrong, and it turns out now we're really fucked up" is just like throwing handfuls of painkillers at Rush Limbaugh's mouth.

Re:Come On! (4, Informative)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996012)

Dear Science Community ... after arguing myself blue in the face with my right-wing relatives that environmentalism transcends politics and just because I like clean air and a healthy earth, doesn't make me a commie, publishing a single report that wildly contradict previous findings makes it practically impossible to defend you. ... Simply leaving the conclusion of the report at "Sorry guys, you know how we told you that we were all going to die if we don't outlaw sulfate aerosols? Yeah, well, we were wrong, and it turns out now we're really fucked up" is just like throwing handfuls of painkillers at Rush Limbaugh's mouth.

Dear BonquiquiShiquavius,

The LA Times and NPR aren't part of the scientific community. They reported on a book written by Eli Kintisch [amazon.com] who is a journalist who writes about science. Also not really part of the scientific community.

I don't think geoengineering is a viable solution, so I don't care to read Kintisch's book. But in the article he seems to be repeating the well known facts that aerosols cool Earth's surface and have a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than CO2. This doesn't "wildly contradict previous findings"-- I've been explaining [dumbscientist.com] for years that these nuances are described in detail by the IPCC AR4 WG1 report.

Sincerely,

A dumb member of the scientific community

Science community? (1)

jlehtira (655619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996092)

Dear Science Community,

Okay, so this isn't immediately clear to anyone, not even me. But reading the article, it seems this information comes from one man, Eli Kintisch. Googling around, it looks to me like he's not a practicing scientist, and while he seems to understand science, it seems his main occupation is selling books.

I think that the science community (if you mean scientists) has remained very silent about the total effect of aerosols because those are not known well enough to make announcements. Meanwhile, everybody else is doing all they can to get media attention, and media jumps at the chance.

It's unfortunate. Besides, scientists are not interested in explaining stuff to the public (who won't understand their favorite intricacies anyway), and they have better things to spend their time with than arguing with laymen. Many times it even happens that scientists actually publish something, and then media reports it widely out of context. What to do, then?

Well, actually scientists already have something like a PR consultant. It's the IPCC. Through IPCC, climate scientists make well thought-out packages of information that are based on old findings and reject the newest and the uncertain. New information can be found in scientific literature, but that's not even readable for laymen.

And if you don't know what is scientific literature, then you've probably never seen it ;-).

Re:Come On! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996198)

Dear BonquiquiShiquavius,

As numerous commenters, some above you, have pointed out, this is not a new finding. We weren't wrong. Your media is just really good at glossing over technical issues. Actually, it's just not really good at doing much of anything besides getting advertisers. I digress. This was known in the 60's. The fact that many non-scientists don't know anything about it is not our fault and is the public's shortcoming, not ours.

Hiring a PR firm is an interesting idea, but again nothing really new. Most universities have PR departments. They're not exactly madison-avenue caliber, but they do some work. It's not like science organizations are rolling in cash with little else to spend it on. -Most- of us try to make the tax dollars we get go the furthest toward getting results. Hiring a PR firm to educate the public as to our results, especially ones from the '60s, doesn't feel like our jobs and probably violates many grant stipulations anyway.

And we don't all decide collective policy. I mean, I could have guessed "the dangers of publishing a single report that purportedly negates all previous recommendations" but no one asked me about it.

Sincerely,
A scientist (one who does not work on any type of environmental science though)

Re:Come On! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996348)

I'm not asking you to cover up findings and/or only publish reports that further your political agenda...just to maybe take the findings of the experiment a few steps further - run several more tests to ensure the validity of the findings, and then propose reasonable recommendations for future policy

Except, well, isn't that How Science [wikipedia.org] Works(tm)? You know...publish your results, have other scientists verify or invalidate them, find the flaws in your experiment/analysis, advance the field and increase the sum-total of human knowledge? Working on this problem in isolation for another year or so before publishing while "running more tests" would have a negative effect if they eventually validated their own findings. Not only would time have been wasted...the only people who knew about it were the scientists involved, preventing action, but until the findings were peer-reviewed/replicated, the results would still be questionable. I'm not a scientist, nor will I ever be, so I can't comment on the politics of the science community, and maybe my Secondary School science education ill-prepared me for this discussion, but what you're suggesting seems to be completely contrary to the advancement of science.

Sometimes we discover things that completely contradict what we thought we knew. Having the balls to stand up and admit that what you previously thought was true is false is a Good Thing. Showing the world as early as possible and having everyone poring over your results as early as possible is a Good Thing.

How politicians square that with the electorate is their problem and how you square that with your right-wing relatives is your problem, science should pander to neither.

Re:Come On! (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996468)

Dear Science Community,
I never thought I'd say this, but...HIRE A GODDAMN PR CONSULTANT ALREADY! I hate PR bullshit...I really do...but honestly, after arguing myself blue in the face with my right-wing relatives that environmentalism transcends politics and just because I like clean air and a healthy earth, doesn't make me a commie, publishing a single report that wildly contradict previous findings makes it practically impossible to defend you. I understand the unwillingness to hold back data/findings because of politics, but even a rookie PR guy will warn you about the dangers of publishing a single report that purportedly negates all previous recommendations.

Honestly, it won't matter. A group of people on this planet has decided that their immediate monetary gains outweigh the (potential) long term risks to the entire human race. You can throw facts at them all you want, they don't give a shit. They don't live below sea level, the fridge is more than full enough and a bit of extra water to sprinkle on the lawn won't break the bank either.

Besides, considering how politicized this issue has become in some countries, notably the US, actual facts have very little to do with the whole debate anymore. Lines have been drawn, positions have been taken, and if you guys don't sort it out yourselves the rest of the planet will force you to at some point. Heck, who knows, maybe this issue will be the final nail in the coffin of the last remaining superpower.

Currency Collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995986)

Something to look forward to; one day the currencies of the western world will collapse under a mountain of public debt. For a time there will be no money to fund this climate dreck and these government funded, navel-gazing professional email writers will have to find actual jobs.

Christ, these faggots are stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31995996)

Scientists don't say anything is "good" or "bad" in their capacity as scientist. They just trace cause and effect, then find an explanation. That IS science. Current science does support GW, and it's a well known fact that sulfurous aerosols provide a cooling effect. If it weren't for the fact that we discovered, and then used the shit out of CFCs, they would be all beneficial, no downside, but we lacked the foresight to do so, because the data just wasn't there.

So yes, science does indicate one thing, and then another, but it is not for the reasons you have ascribed, It is because we have a very incomplete picture, and until it is complete, we can only give a best guess. But you know what? Even if it's imperfect, it's better than flying blind!

Fortunately, due to the marvellosu analytical tool that is the scientific method, our best guess will always be getting better and better.

It's simple math. (1)

toby34a (944439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31995998)

Aerosols reflect more shortwave energy then they absorb in the longwave, contributing to a net negative forcing in the climate system. With a reduction in aerosol concentration, we'll have additional warming. This is a no-duh scientific principle that has been supported by direct instantaneous observations, versus the projected "future climates" based on model results that are not nearly as reliable, since they still rely on parameterizations of physical processes that we may or may not have a handle on. While the US Clean Air Act has really helped the air around us, with the industrialization of China and India (and lack of pollution controls) the net global effect may be minimal. That's the interesting thing to realize, as our industry gets cleaner, China gets as dirty as Cleveland in the 1920s and Detroit when there used to be industry.

Climate alarmism in action (4, Funny)

azaris (699901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996006)

Let's play climate alarmist bullshit bingo:

"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. 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.

BINGO!

Re:Climate alarmism in action (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996332)

BINGO!

Quick Batman! To the GovernmentGrantMobile!

Re:Climate alarmism in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996442)

As long as you carefully ignore anything that can be considered factoid information *any* uttering of words can be considered worthles, and can be mocked by playing that bingo with it.

If you really want to play that bullsh*t bingo, than please also do it with the "facts" presented by the origional global warming scientists (with their data that was carefully selected for the desired outcome).

I do not mind to talk about eventual effects of mankind on the temperature (and other things) of this planet and how we can minimalize it.

But please, don't go and assume that we can tell Earth to stop its own temperature-cycling. That would be nothing more than an illusion of grandeur and a mighty waste of resources (human, finacial as well as material).

Editor on speed writes headline (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996020)

...and it is unintelligible.

Evaporation study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996098)

Was done many years ago and proved this point, tell us something we shouldn't have all known years ago.

Then again I guess anything helping bring awareness to the tarded masses (sorry slashdot) is good.

Monkeys and a bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31996170)

So we have this highly complex system called earth climate. we started to manipulate it on a global scale in recent centuries (e.g. CO2-emissions) without any clue what it might cause to this system. And now, just when we start to think about possible consequences of our doing in the last decades - now comes someone and demands to manipulate from a different angle (here: aerosols) on a global scale and poorly understood as well. duh. How intelligent is that? I have this picture in my mind of some monkeys finding a dud. Out of ignorance they started to hit it with sticks and stones - and when they suddenly recognise a ticking sound from the inside some smart monkey demands "let's also try to burn it. maybe the ticking goes away". Sounds reasonable, does it not?

This is old news (1)

Card (30431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996322)

There have been several documentaries about Global Dimming [wikipedia.org] , and it seems one of them is available on Google Video [google.com] . Check it out.

NOT news. (1)

s-whs (959229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996404)

This has been known for at least 5 years.

See for example:

BBC__Horizon__2005.01.13__Global_dimming

In a nutshell: cleaner air will give even higher temperatures which means the warming by increased greenhouse gasses is in fact worse than what you might expect by naive interpretation of the temperature data.

Trying to pollute the atmosphere (or not clean it up) because of this would give all sorts of other problems.

And as to this guy:

Climate change scientists have now resorted to trolling us.
Seriously. Cleaner air is bad for the planet? Shut up. As someone who has asthma, this pisses me off. I like breathing, thanks. Stop wasting time blaming the Clean Air Act and look at practical ways to cut carbon emissions in ways that don't knock us back to the stone age.

No, they are not trolling. They are in fact saying the problem of global warming is worse than you might think. But as I said, this is NOT news.

What about photosynthesis? (3, Interesting)

Dialecticus (1433989) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996450)

The author of 'Hack the Planet' says: 'As we take away that unexpectedly helpful cooling mask, we're going to be facing more global warming than we expected.'

...along with more CO2-scrubbing photosynthesis caused by more sunlight reaching the the ground. Did he not consider this?

Why is this "surprising"? (1, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31996542)

In the 1970s, the Ecomentals wouldn't stop shrieking all air pollution triggering an ice age [wordpress.com] , ZOMG MUST FIX NOW!!!!!!1!!!

There's nothing surprising about Doomsayers saying Doom. The world is just about to end, always has been, always will be.

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