If you search Google News today for “global warming,” you will get over 26,000 stories. If you search for “global dimming,” you will get four. (If you search for “Britney Spears,” you will get over 12,000, but that’s another post.)
Nobody is winning Oscars, Grammies or Nobels decrying global dimming, so it’s largely off the radar of the mainstream news. But the PBS science program Nova is raising the fascinating question of whether pollution regulations that improve human health might be inadvertently aggravating global warming, since certain types of pollution may dim the sun’s warming affect on the earth, thus partially offsetting the global warming occurring from elevated CO2 levels. Or something like that.
If human-driven global dimming is happening on a grand scale — and the scientific community seems to believe this is a much bigger “if” than global warming — it would be one of the most important issues of our times. Think about it. It would mean that pollution regulations might cause global warming to happen much more quickly than anticipated. It would mean we face serious questions about whether we should reverse regulations to control things such as particulates and sulfate aerosols (which comes from coal and fossil fuels).
Thank goodness we have Nova and other news outlets who don’t avoid complexity and controversy. Because anything as consequential “global dimming” requires a bit more in-depth probing from the news media than our little Britney is getting.