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Posted Tue Jul 5 2011: from CBC:
China's pollution temporarily slowed climate change
Scientists have come up with a possible explanation for why the rise in Earth's temperature paused for a bit during the 2000s, one of the hottest decades on record. The answer seems counterintuitive. It's all that sulphur pollution in the air from China's massive coal-burning, according to a new study. Sulphur particles in the air deflect the sun's rays and can temporarily cool things down a bit. That can happen even as coal-burning produces the carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.... But sulphur's cooling effect is only temporary, while the carbon dioxide from coal burning stays in Earth's atmosphere a long time. Chinese coal consumption doubled between 2003 and 2007, and that caused a 26 per cent increase in global coal consumption, Kaufmann said.... Sulphur quickly drops out of the air if it is not replenished, while carbon dioxide remains for a long time, so its warming effects are beginning to be visible again, he noted. The plateau in temperature growth disappeared in 2009 and 2010, when temperatures lurched upward.
[Read more stories about: coal issues, airborne pollutants, geoengineering, climate impacts]
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