Since the year 1950 there has been a slow yet steady drop in solar radiation, in fact the level of radiation reaching the surface of our planet has dropped by 9% in Antarctica, 10% in the USA, 30% in areas of Russia and by 16% in parts of Britain. Overall the average drop in solar radiation has been estimated to be a staggering 22%, an amount which climate scientists consider to be “enormous” and which may present a grave danger to our environment.
The drop in solar radiation, now known as Global Dimming, had until its discovery helped to hide the rises in temperatures caused by global warming, in other words, had it not been for the dimming of the atmosphere we might have noticed AGW early enough to do something about it way back when it might have been possible to implement easier solutions.
So take note: Global Dimming and Global Warming are two distinct and separate effects both of which will have disastrous consequences for humanity unless we can solve both problems together, should we attempt to fix either one separately then the resultant conditions will most likely kill us all. It is important that all readers understand this.
The cause of Global Dimming has been found to be changes in the earth’s atmosphere due to the fact that almost anything we do to gain useful energy creates pollutants. What happens is that tiny airborne particles of soot and other such minute particles created by fossil fuel burning and other types of human activities combine in the air to create an atmospheric haze; in some areas this haze may be more than 3Km thick and helps to cut down on sunlight reaching Earth’s oceans by more than 10%.
Global Dimming is a cooling effect that has so far (incredibly) saved us from a runaway greenhouse but which left unresolved will in the end help bring about the perfect conditions for the greenhouse effect to take hold to such an extent that it will be out of our control and we will be unable to do anything about it.
Satellite images and field data have shown that global dimming is happening all over the world and combines with global warming to cause severe changes in our planet’s rainfall patterns bringing about droughts and famines of biblical proportions such as the 1984 Saharan drought that killed millions of people in Africa.
Despite the dimming effect scientists agree that global warming has increased our planet’s atmosphere by an average of 1 Deg. Yet were it not for the cooling effect of Global Dimming our temperatures would be much higher posing an existential threat to all species on earth.
Both Anthropogenic Global Warming and the Dimming effect produced by our industrial pollutants are so intertwined that attempting to fix one without doing nothing about the other may very well bring about conditions able to increase global temperatures by a further 2 Deg. or even 3 Deg. Celsius, levels which as Dr Hansen puts it, “Guarantees Disaster” for all of us.
The videos on the sidebar will show readers a documentary explaining the entire phenomenon of Global Dimming, its causes and effects, I encourage you to watch them.
Addendum : As extra reference material I managed to find this article from the New York Times, although posted in 2004. I find it amazing that very little of the Global Dimming Effect has been mentioned by the media for such a long time.
After a Period of Brightness, Earth Dims, Researchers Say