Environment: Global Dimming - Horizon

BBC - Science & Nature - Horizon - Global Dimming

Wow. Horizon returns to BBC2 with a stonker of a first episode.  The premise is as follows:

An increase in particles in the air (soot, and other pollutants) has been causing clouds to form with larger numbers of smaller water droplets, which fail to gather enough mass to fall as rain. The net effect of this is that the droplets reflect more sunlight back out into space, causing a net cooling effect on the earth's surface. This is called global dimming. It is possible that this was one of the main causes of the famines in sub-Saharan Africa in the 70's and 80's (by diverting the rainfall).

Global warming due to greenhouse gasses has been offset by this global dimming effect. CO2 has been warming the atmosphere, but we've had the 'hand-break' through global dimming, taking the bite out of the warming. This has also cause scientists to under-estimate the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming.

Now - as Western Europe starts to take more of the particulate pollutants out (with catalytic converts, and scrubbers on the power supplies), we're removing the dimming effect, and could unleash the full effect of global warming. This warming could be a whole lot worse than we were thinking, and could take effect a whole lot sooner than we were expecting.

Ouch. Ok. So now we're serious. We have to reduce both general pollution, and greenhouse gasses... with a vengeance. 

That says to me that we need to accelerate introduction of hybrid, electric, and fuel cell vehicles. It also says that we need to shift rapidly to Nuclear power, and away from gas & coal. And finally that we need to do less commuting, and more telecommuting.

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