What? Science reporter Eli Kintisch has written an LA Times opinion piece urging that we maintain air pollution to prevent global warming. From “Why Cleaner Air Could Speed Global Warming:”
You’re likely to hear a chorus of dire warnings as we approach Earth Day, but there’s a serious shortage few pundits are talking about: air pollution. That’s right, the world is running short on air pollution, and if we continue to cut back on smoke pouring forth from industrial smokestacks, the increase in global warming could be profound. Cleaner air, one of the signature achievements of the U.S. environmental movement, is certainly worth celebrating. Scientists estimate that the U.S. Clean Air Act has cut a major air pollutant called sulfate aerosols, for example, by 30% to 50% since the 1980s, helping greatly reduce cases of asthma and other respiratory problems. But even as industrialized and developing nations alike steadily reduce aerosol pollution — caused primarily by burning coal — climate scientists are beginning to understand just how much these tiny particles have helped keep the planet cool. A silent benefit of sulfates, in fact, is that they’ve been helpfully blocking sunlight from striking the Earth for many decades, by brightening clouds and expanding their coverage. Emerging science suggests that their underappreciated impact has been incredible.
In other words, we should promote smog to prevent global warming! Are we eating our own tails over this issue, or are we eating our own tails? But wait, it’s all a pitch for geo-engineering:
In the face of severe climate risks, credible scientists are beginning to study geo-engineering — tinkering with global systems to reduce warming directly. One scheme is to spew sulfates or other sun-blocking particles miles high in the stratosphere. If it worked, it would mimic the natural cooling effect of volcanoes, replacing the near-surface sulfate mask with a much higher one. But the possible side effects could be dire, including damage to the ozone layer. The potential geopolitical implications, like wars over the thermostat, could be devastating as well. We might need geo-engineering to stave off the worst effects of the warming. But most climate scientists think we’re not there yet. And so the most important thing we can do now is to train our sights on both the unexpectedly helpful sulfates and the unexpectedly pernicious carbon. We can’t continue to only focus on traditional pollutants without reducing greenhouse emissions. We simply have to find a way to clean our air of both.
It’s amazing. Smog good, carbon dioxide bad. Is it any wonder people are beginning to howl and hoot at global warming hysteria?