Dirty air holds back climate change – scientists

Gallant efforts to cut pollution and clean up the air we breathe could be speeding up climate change, according to a report in science journal Nature.

While reducing pollution has myriad positive effects, it is also weakening an artificial shield against rising temperatures, according to the article.

The tiny particles that drift up into the atmosphere from our exhaust pipes and factory columns are actually reflecting sunlight back into space.

The effect is known as aerosol cooling and currently has a significant impact on global temperatures.

But as industrialised countries continue to reduce the pollutants in their emissions the effect is fading fast while greenhouse gases will linger in the atmosphere for considerably longer.

The researchers, led by Meinrat Andreae, have taken pains to make it clear they are not advocating pollution as a means to combat climate change or a return to the bad of days of smog clouds hanging over every major city.

Their study is not to be interpreted as a detailed forecast, they say, but rather flags up a phenomenon that is worthy of further research.

By Sam Bond

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