Scientists have discovered a major paradox in nature: while pollution cools down the world, clean air accelerates global warming. Although the reduction of airborne fine particles, or aerosols, is good for public health and is thought to prevent the deaths of several million people annually, it is detrimental for global warming.
While today's pollution levels are 30% lower than they were in 2000, a global team of researchers found that carbon dioxide emissions have increased global warming by 50%. Pollutant particles, such sulphate or nitrate, are frequently present in exhaust and are known for their reflecting qualities.
The study's lead author, University of Leipzig's climate scientist Johannes Koss, told Science.org that cleaner air has actually resulted in an increase of between 15% and 50% in the amount of warming brought on by carbon dioxide emissions. And, as we continue our quest for clean air, he predicts, "there will be a lot more of this."
Jan Cermak, a remote sensing specialist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, told Science.org that continuing to pollute is not the answer. "Air pollution kills people. We need clean air. There is no question about that." Instead, Cermak thinks that we need to focus more on reducing greenhouse gases.
The team suggested that a return to aerosols through solar geoengineering may be the solution. According to them, adopting interim remedial steps will be necessary to prevent catastrophic impacts, and this most definitely includes the planned temporary use of aerosols. The contentious idea of injecting sulphate particles into the stratosphere to create a universal reflecting haze is known as geoengineering.
This technique would lift around four pounds of calcium carbonate dust, the weight of a small bag, into the atmosphere 12 miles above the desert of New Mexico using a high-altitude scientific balloon.
A tubular sphere of 100 yards in diameter and half a mile long would arise from this. The balloon will once more be propelled through this man-made cloud over the course of the following 24 hours as onboard sensors track the dust's capacity to reflect sunlight and its impact on the surrounding thin air.
However, the procedure was put on hold amidst fear that it could trigger a catastrophic chain reaction, wreaking climate havoc in the form of severe droughts and hurricanes, and killing millions of people worldwide.