Summary of How Cleaner Air Changes the Climate

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Recommendation

Ambitious legislation to clean Earth’s atmosphere of aerosol pollution may be paradoxically at odds with humanity’s efforts to control global warming. Since most aerosol particles reflect sunlight, they can actually have a cooling effect on Earth’s land masses. Policy makers and environmentalists will appreciate this detailed article by climatologist Bjørn Hallvard Samset, which clarifies the complex atmospheric interactions of aerosols and greenhouse gases, combined with natural climate trends.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why removing aerosol pollutants from Earth’s atmosphere may worsen climate change;
  • Why some aerosols cool the atmosphere, while others contribute to surface warming; and
  • Why global warming policies must take aerosols into consideration in meeting ambitious Paris Agreement goals.
 

About the Author

Bjørn Hallvard Samset is Research Director at the CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway.

 

Summary

Reversing atmospheric aerosol pollution could make global warming worse.

Clean air advocates promote reducing aerosol usage. However, new studies reveal that by reflecting sunlight, some aerosols cool air warmed by greenhouse gases, making their use a more complex climate issue. Scientists think that if humans had never used aerosols, the Earth would be about 0.5°C [0.9°F] warmer today.

Restrictions on aerosol use vary by country. Hence, regional effects on weather and human health differ.

Aerosols dissipate...


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