Dimming Coverage

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.

– Loveland

8 thoughts on “Dimming Coverage

  1. I second that goodness-thanking for media outlets that don’t avoid complexity. I get so depressed watching or reading the “news” sometimes, but every once in a while NewsHour or good newspaper reporter or occasionally Chris Matthews makes me happy again.

  2. Barry says:

    NOVA doesn’t avoid complexity – it avoids the obvious. Global warming cannot be characterized because it cannot be quantified, hence it is theoretical. It’s a theory that appeals to minds who think the apocalypse is coming because it doesn’t snow as much today as it did when they were kids in the 1970s.

    Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Humans have been around 350 million years. Useful climatological data might take us back 1,500 years. Paul Douglas can’t predict next Sunday’s weather.

    Have a drink and relax everyone.

  3. I think I’ll pass on your suggestion to imbibe and relax, Barry, and it may be best if you laid off the liquor for a while and took a serious look at the facts of global warming. It’s pretty sobering stuff.

    Despite your statements to the contrary, you’ll find that the scientific community is in nearly complete agreement (at least as close as you’ll ever get to consensus with scientists) on the existence of global warming and the fact that human activity is largely responsible for it. And that consensus is based on data, as it must be.

  4. Barry says:

    NASA scientist James E. Hansen, who has publicly criticized the Bush administration for dragging its feet on climate change and labeled skeptics of man-made global warming as distracting “court jesters,” appears in a 1971 Washington Post article that warns of an impending ice age within 50 years.

    OK Hansen, which is it – fire or ice?

    Ah haha hahahah ….

  5. This prediction was actually made by S.I. Rasool, a colleague of Hansen’s, who came to his conclusions in part by using a computer program developed by Hansen that studied clouds above Venus.

    Let’s see, Barry, what could have happened in the intervening 36 years between this prediction and today’s consensus on global warming? Oh yeah: It’s called accumulated data — data that has been duplicated and verified by scientists from around the world.

    Or are you saying that humans in general, and scientists in particular, either don’t have the capacity or shouldn’t be allowed to test, verify and improve upon past knowledge? In other words, to learn?

  6. NASA scientist who accused Bush Administration of censorship received $720,000 from George Soros…

    It looks like John M’s torch bearer has a little credibility issue.

  7. John M says:

    This is my last post on this topic, since I’m sure this exchange has become tedious for TSRC readers — myself included.

    As for “pre-man” explanations of climate change cycles, I’d offer several:
    1. Astronomic: there are regular and well-documented cycles, including eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit (100,000-yr. cycle); wobble in Earth’s orbit on its axis (40,000-yr. cycle); and a combination of these two (20,000-yr. cycle).
    2. Atmospheric: these include solar reflectivity caused, for ex., by atmospheric dust from major volcanic eruptions, and heat retention, also likely related to major volcanic eruptions as well as other factors.
    3. Tectonic: changes in ocean currents due to landmass distribution (i.e., shifting continents), and changes in ocean displacement due to spreading of the sea floor (related to shifting continents).

    But the key point that you and other global warming deniers choose to ignore is this:

    Since the beginning of the 20th century the global average temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration have increased dramatically. This is unprecedented, particularly compared to their levels in the preceding 900 years. Indeed, previous cooling and warming cycles, with a few exceptions, have taken place over a much longer period of time — usually several centuries. The current rapid rise in both surface temperature and CO2 clearly points toward human activity as playing a key role, if not THE key role, in this cycle.

    But if you’ve already made up your mind, Berry (and you too, James), so be it: there’s nothing that I or anyone else can do to change your opinion. And if the best response to global warming you can think of is to “relax and have a drink,” by all means party on, dude.

    But you’ll have to forgive those of us who don’t accept your invitation because we believe that acknowledging the facts and looking for solutions is the more responsible — albeit sobering — course of action.

Comments are closed.