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The Sun is Getting Dimmer

Scientists have noticed that the sun is getting dimmer. Airpollution is the problem--but if we clean up the pollutionthat cools down the Earth by dimming the sun, will weincrease global warming? The answer, alas, is yes.

David Sington writes in bbcnews.com that Gerry Stanhill, aU.K. scientist working in Israel, compared sunlight recordsfrom the 1950s to current records and found a 22% drop inthe amount of sunlight reaching the Earth. He found thishard to believe, so he compared current records with pastones for other countries?and found the same thing ishappening worldwide. Sunlight reaching the U.S. has declinedby 10% over the last 50 years and by almost 30% in theformer Soviet Union, as well as 16% in parts of the U.K.These numbers have been confirmed by Australian scientists,who used a completely different method of measurement.

The reason for all this dimming? Air pollution. Burningcoal, gasoline, oil and wood gives off carbon dioxide, themain greenhouse gas that?s behind global warming. It alsoproduces tiny particles of soot, which makes the dimmingworse. These particles also seed clouds, causing rain dropsto form. Does it seem like it rains all the time these dayswhere you live? This type of pollution may be the reason.

Air pollution also leads to droughts, because it changes therainfall patterns all over the world. It's thought thatglobal dimming was behind the severe African droughts of the1970s and ?80s.

Won?t global dimming help offset global warming, by coolingthings down? This could happen. Since CO2 levels willprobably rise during the next few decades, effects from thiscould be at least partly offset by reduced radiation fromthe sun. Therefore it may actually be dangerous to clean upair pollution, since it may increase global warming.However, particles of pollution in the air are a major causeof heart disease, so this will be a hard decision to make.

The ancient Mayans had a lot of knowledge, but none of itwas enough tosave them!

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