What is Global Dimming?
In the 1990s, scientists began noticing a surprising trend in pan evaporation experiments, a simple procedure testing water levels around the Earth. It was discovered that less water was evaporating over the years, meaning less and less sunlight was hitting the planet each year. This was an unexpected discovery in the age of global warming, since it seems contradictory to logic, but the truth is that the combination of both issues makes each of them all the more serious.
Global dimming is caused by the increased presence of particulates, which are fine particles in the air which can reflect sunlight back into space. Particulates can come from natural sources, such as volcanic ash, but did not reach significant levels without the human usage of aerosol sprays and other pollutants resulting from combustion engines, automobiles, and power plants. Recently, it was discovered that vapor trails from jets and other aircraft also contribute; on September 11, when no planes were in the sky, there was a noticeable drop in the temperature variant.
These air pollutants literally have a cooling effect on the world, which explains why theories on global warming took so long to develop, and why the patterns of global warming are so difficult to monitor. Without global dimming, it would be far easier to understand and predict the global warming crisis.
Many scientists believe the dimming is already reverting, due to the slow drop in pollution caused by the Clean Air Act and improved environmental standards worldwide. While this is fortunate on one hand, it also presents an enormous problem. If more sunlight starts coming through, and the greenhouse gasses keep the heat in for longer, then the global warming threat will be at critical level much sooner than previously anticipated. This has led some to suggest intentional pollution, the concept of pumping aerosols and other particulates into the atmosphere to evade higher levels of radiation. But this solution is only temporary, not to mention highly unsatisfactory, since it does nothing but increase the dangers of pollution, such as acid rain and extended dry seasons, not to mention the obvious health risks.
The best solution is to go after all pollution in equal measure, putting an end to both global dimming and global warming, and returning Earth to a completely natural environment through the use of alternative energy and conscientious living.
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