Global Dimming is the observed effect of increases in particulate matter in the atmosphere. There has been a substantial drop in the amount of sunlight hitting the planet over the past sixty years, approximately 22% globally, and up to 30% in some locations. Global dimming seems to be caused by pollution from burning coal, oil and wood. Because it cuts the amount of sunlight hitting the ground, it cuts the amount of heat trapped by greenhouse gases, and that has troubling implications: (reference)
One of the most most alarming of these implications is that it may have led scientists to underestimate the true power of the greenhouse effect. Scientists have a good measure of the extra energy that is being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by the extra carbon dioxide produced on the planet. What has been surprising is that this extra energy has so far resulted in a temperature rise of only 0.6oC. This has led many scientists to conclude that the present-day climate is less sensitive to the effects of carbon dioxide than it was, say, during the ice age, when a similar rise in CO2 led to a temperature rise ten times higher, i.e. 6oC.
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