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The Contribution of Global Dimming to Climate Change and Global Warming

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Climate change and global warming is a topic on everyone’s minds, from the highest government official to the average citizen and rightfully so. The earth is warming up and there are no doubts left about climate change and global warming conditions resulting from it.

Most scientists agree that humans are the reason for this present situation. Though the earth normally goes through climate change and global warming or cooler cycles, this phenomena occurs over many thousands of years, the fact that we are seeing rapid changes in our atmosphere (air) biosphere, (ecosystems), hydrosphere, (water) and cryosphere (ice and glaciers) points to anthropogenic involvement (intervention by humankind).

One climate change and global warming phenomenon being observed but has been a bit misleading is what is known as global dimming. When clouds become think with pollutants they expel the heat from the gases up into space meaning that less heat and energy will remain on the surface of the planet. Now this is where it becomes confusing, since the planet is warming up, our senses tell us that releasing hot air into space should correct the problem. However, the facts seem to point into the opposite direction. Let’s look at the situation more closely.

Global dimming is the gradual diminishing capacity of the irradiance (radiation) of the earth’s surfaces (clouds included). Scientists have been studying this phenomenon since the 1950’s. They have noted a decrease in about 4% of irradiance from the 1960’s -1990’s. Aerosol cans were targeted as the cause this dimming due to sulfate and other pollutants released into the air. Once the phenomenon was observed, aerosol can products were no longer readily as marketable consumer products and the situation was reversed. The scientists once again observed a global brightness as opposed to global dimming after the 1990’s.

Global dimming has interfered with the earth’s hydrosphere, tampering with its water distribution patterns; it has reduced the capacity for natural water evaporation thus gravely maligning rainfall patterns. Experts have suggested that the catastrophic droughts occurring in the 1970’s and 1980’s, in Ethiopia and killing millions of people were a result of global dimming. The Oceans in the Northern Hemisphere could not produce enough rain to travel down to Africa because the waters were simply not warm enough.

What makes it even more deadly is it masked the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions thus slowing our progress in eradicating the effects of climate change and global warming.

While cleaning up the effects of global dimming, the earth did get warmer because greenhouse gas emissions were pretty much ignored. Ecosystems and human health have already been affected. Thousands of people in Europe died during the intense heat wave of 2003.

Global dimming has shown us that climate change and global warming is not the result of just one single phenomenon, we must continuously look for possible causes.



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