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Global Dimming – Its causes and effects

March 14, 2012

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.

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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

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. mamadestroy permalink
    March 14, 2012 1:23 pm

    Though reading this leaves me a bit panicky and filled with a roiling blind terror, I have to thank you for posting. I have never heard of Global Dimming, and after reading your post, I definitely feel motivated to find out more. What do we do? How do you not succumb to absolute hopelessness?

    • March 14, 2012 1:32 pm

      Watch the videos and learn more about the issue, you might also wish to read my other blog on two other global effects … Global Warming and Globalization of the species; the videos in that blog will show you what kind of damage we have really done to our environment.

      The solution is simple, we must all learn to use less energy, to waste less heat,

      It really is that simple but I will only be able to explain it all when I blog on yet another global effect that affects us all … “The Thermal Effect” unfortunately it is an extremely difficult subject to explain and it will take me a few more days to write the blog fully.

      Then it will all become clear. ….. pass it on … tell others, don’t hesitate to copy this blog and re-write it in your own site, I don’t mind, I encourage it. πŸ™‚

      (Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it)

      • mamadestroy permalink
        March 15, 2012 12:49 am

        I stumbled upon your blog because I was in the midst of writing something about explaining global warming to my 5 year old (it will take a bit to get it up, my sister and I collaborate and we are both perfectionists), and just started browsing around. I definitely will explore further. Thank you. And I will share as well.

      • March 15, 2012 1:08 am

        You could always burn some sticks and point out the differences between the heat going into our surroundings (Thermal Effect) , the smoke carrying CO2 into the atmosphere (Global Warming) and the soot heading up into the clouds (Global dimming)

        Then you sprinkle some water drops onto the fire and as they evaporate you can then explain how the heat causes evaporation in the oceans, for cloud/water vapor forming you add a kettle to the fire and show her the steam and for rains and floods you place a glass (at an angle, not flat) over the steam from the kettle to allow it to re condense into water.

        Now, go on, admit it! You came to the right place πŸ™‚

      • March 16, 2012 2:08 am

        PS: My apologies, I wrote “Thermal Blanket Effect”; instead it should only be “Thermal Effect” … as they are two distinct and separate issues.
        Thermal Blanket Effect is caused by greenhouse gasses and the Thermal Effect is a function of the laws of thermodynamics.

        I’ve re-edited my comments and fixed my error! Ooops! sorry.

  2. March 14, 2012 2:49 pm

    Just read your amazing Post and need some time to absorb the implications. I agree with your previous commentator in terms of the reactions it produced in me. Just off to bed, be interesting to see how well I sleep! πŸ˜‰ Paul.

  3. Martin Lack permalink
    March 14, 2012 7:10 pm

    Thanks for this Donald. It’s really good to have you back. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading your posts.

    I think the implications of global dimming were first discovered decades ago. Certainly it was way back in the 1970s that the US EPA was set-up; and led the way in enforcing new environmental legislation on air pollution, etc.. Therefore, global dimming (i.e. post-WW2 industrial pollution from wealthy countries) was the main reason global warming did not become obvious until the 1980s.

    In more recent time, in addition to ocean circulation effects (i.e. El Nino and La Nina), global dimming has been the main cause of another hiatus in an otherwise relentless warming trend. This time, of course, the pollution causing it is coming from the less developed and/or emerging economies (e.g. China, India and Brazil).

    In Storms of my Granchildren, Hansen laments long an loudly over NASA’s failure to invest (20 years ago) in appropriate satellite development that would by now have plugged this gaping hole in our knowledge – namely the cooling effect of sulphates, aerosols and particulates in the atmosphere.

    Therefore, the better we get at enacting, regulating and enforcing effective environmental regulations (of the kind big business want repealed because they adversely impact on profit margins), the faster the planet’s climate will go AWoL.

    But, hey, sh1t happens…

    • March 14, 2012 7:47 pm

      I had never heard Hansen speak before, his comments in the videos show him to be a smart and sincere individual. I must listen to more of what he has to say.

      • Martin Lack permalink
        March 14, 2012 8:28 pm

        You should read his book too. He is painfully honest about his own shortcomings. How anyone can accuse him of mendacity is beyond my comprehension.

        Just posted comment on LfD – check it out – includes key peice of Lindzengate evidence.

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