Global warming has also been cooling the Earth but not for long

The sunlight can be reflected by the tiny particles that are emitted from the combustion of coal, oil and gas, which stimulate cloud formation which in turn, helps in creating a shade on the planet protecting it from the harsh and harmful sunrays.
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 18:37 IST

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Burning coals, oil and gas has been warming up our planet as is well known but a report by the The Washington Post has now said that despite that, it also has been cooling the planet by combustion of coal, oil and gas so as to reflect sunlight and spur the formation of clouds, shading us from the Sun.

But this cooling effect is shrinking now, as a newly climate conscious world is busy working on cleaning up pollution.

New regulations to minimise air pollution have reduced to the amount of sulphur aerosols, resulting in even warmer temperatures.

According to The Washington Post, a climate scientist Zeke Hausfather says, "We’re starting from an area of deep, deep uncertainty. It could be a full degree of cooling being masked."

The sulphur aerosols which are caused by air pollution do their part in cooling the planet in two ways:

- Being reflective, the particles bounce the sunways away and crate a shade for the Earth.

- The particles cool the Earth by making existing clouds much brighter and making them look like mirror.

When people burn fossil fuels like coal and oil which are 1 to 2 per cent sulfur, its sulphur particles scatter into the atmosphere which is ideally hazardous as sulphur dioxide leads to serious respiratory issues, chronic diseases and deaths due to air pollution.

Over a few decades, countries have been working to slash these pollutants from the air. According to The Washington Post, an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, Duncan Watson-Parris said, "There has been a pretty steep decline over the last 10 years."

Recent study has shown that with the decrease in these aerosols, more solar radiation is being trapped in our atmosphere.

As a result, an experimental technique could be used called 'marine cloud brightening', in which safe aerosols could be injected in the air which might make clouds reflect more sunlight and also increase cloud cover in the atmosphere.

Closer home, India has been experiencing erratic climate conditions with parts of the country seeing either unprecedented rains or drought.

Experts say India needs to dig more lakes and ponds to store heavy rainfalls and prevent massive water shortages in heavily populated cities like Delhi and Bengaluru. 

The country also needs to substantially increase its green cover and raise public awareness about the impacts of heat, stagger work hours and change schoolday timings, the experts say. 

Published 30 June 2024, 18:37 IST

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