Global Dimming

Solar measurements have been studies for decades.  There has been a significant drop in sunlight since studies began in the 1950’s.  Records show that there has been a drop in sunlight as low as 22% in Israeli, almost 30% in parts of the former Soviet Union and 10% over the USA.  It seems that particulates have been blocking out the sunlight caused by Global Dimming and slowly causing damage to our earth.

Global Dimming is the result of the greenhouse effect caused by excessive amounts of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, mostly from fossil fuel burning.  Fossil fuels create by-products called pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide, soot and ash.  These pollutants can alter the properties of a cloud.  Clouds are formed when water droplets are seeded by air-borne particles, such as pollen for example.  Polluted air results in cloud formation with a larger number of droplets than unpolluted clouds.  This, in turn, makes the cloud more reflective.  Heat and energy from the sun hits the cloud then is reflected back into space without being able to penetrate the earth’s surface.

Having the earth a bit cooler after all the warnings of climate change is a good thing, right?  No, actually it is not.   Climatologists have studied this phenomenon and believe that the reflection of heat have made waters in the northern hemisphere cooler, therefore resulting in less rain in crucial areas such as Northern Africa.  This phenomenon has also been documented in the 1970 and 1980’s as low rainfall caused massive famines.  The Asian monsoons bring rainfall to half the world’s population.  If this air pollution and global dimming has a damaging impact on the Asian monsoons, billions of people could be affected.

 

There have also been studies on contrails and the cause of heat reflection.  For three days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., all commercial flights were grounded.  This gave climate scientists the time to study the effect on the climate when there were no contrails and no heat reflection.  The research concluded that temperature rose by about 1 degree centigrade in that three-day period.

 

According to the documentary, if global dimming issues were only addressed, the effects of global warming would increase even more.  The impacts of addressing global dimming only would increase global warming more rapidly.  Irreversible damage would only be about 30 years away.  Damage such as the polar ice caps melting, more famine, soil erosion, and the drying out of the rain forests to the point of becoming a risk for fire. 

 

So what can be done?

“This is not a prediction, it is a warning of what will happen if we clean up the pollution while doing nothing about greenhouse gases.” The documentary stated.

 

While the same message has been pushed for over 20 years – we may have to change our way of life, be more conscious – little has actually been done. “Rapidly,” the documentary concluded, “we are running out of time.”

 

http://www.globalissues.org/article/529/global-dimming
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4171591.stm

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