Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Could Cleaner Air Actually Intensify Global Warming?"

This article from National Public Radio focuses on an unseen adversary of climate change. The article relies heavily on comments from Eli Kintisch, a science writer for the New York Times. The culprit? Aerosol. They, " block sunlight, they make clouds more reflective" (1). This same effect is observed in volcano eruptions, as the dust they produce blocks out sunlight (2). The cleaning of aerosol is a noble pursuit as they can cause chemical reactions, "The most significant of these reactions are those that lead to the destruction of stratospheric ozone" (3). But the magnitude of the effects from aerosol are unclear. The removal of aerosol, especially without the removal of heating greenhouse gasses may have drastic consequences.

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  1. Natural aerosols are an essential part of the atmosphere, the same as water vapor and naturally occurring CO2. It is when we have too many anthropogenic aerosols that a problem occurs. It also seems entirely impossible to me to remove aerosols from the environment. We should instead focus on decreasing our emissions and our waste. These are things that I believe will have a much greater impact on the climate in the long run.

  2. Decreasing aerosols was without a doubt beneficial to the atmosphere. I agree with Jennifer about having too many anthropogenic aerosols is where the problem lies. Emissions that include Methane, and Sulfuryl Fluoride, which absorbs 4800 times more heat than a molecule of CO2 are what is harming the earth and causing aspects of global warming. Eliminating the molecules or drastically reducing the ones that absorb so much heat should be of most importance.

  3. There is no way that the amount humans could lower the amount of aerosols enough to negatively affect the climate any more than we already are!

  4. Don't quote me on this, but just because they block sunlight doesn't mean they block UV rays. I don't think eliminating any chemical that we emit could actually hurt the atmosphere... the atmosphere worked just fine on its own. Its the stuff we're adding that's causing damage.


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