Pollution May Actually Be Good for the Earth

Illustration for article titled Pollution May Actually Be Good for the Earth

The hazy weather caused by pollution has made plants far more productive when it comes to scrubbing greenhouse gasses out of the air. Scientists say factories that belch smoke may be slowing global warming.


A study published this week in Nature argues that pollution has turned plants into better carbon dioxide processing machines. Hazy weather has allowed plants to fix 10% more carbon in the soil than they did before the 1960s, when air quality was better.

Ecologist Lina Mercado, lead author on the study, said polluted air is part of "global dimming." She added:

[Dimming] resulted in a net 10% increase in the amount of carbon stored by the land once other effects were taken into account.

But this study won't be used to justify shooting more particulates into the atmosphere. Instead, it could be used as evidence for geo-engineering as a way of regulating climate change.

According to BBC News:

The research will also add weight to arguments about geo-engineering, the idea of curbing global warming by adding reflective materials to the atmosphere.

Because plants absorb more carbon dioxide when they experience global dimming, geo-engineers might try to bounce light away from the planet to maintain dimming without pollution.

via BBC News

Photo of smog in Beijing by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images.



Anekanta - spoon denier

Geo-Engineering just seems like an incredibly dumb concept. To take a biosphere that developed over millions of years and then try to engineer it to work the way you like... well, that's a lot like trying to make a winding river flow straight. Sure, you can do it, but not for very long—the river will always try to resume its natural course, and the more you try to force it to behave the way you want it to, the harder it snaps back when it finally escapes.

Like everything else, nature wants to be free and unconstrained by human hands.

To put it another way: engineering of one form or another got us into this mess. How could anyone believe the solution is more engineering?