Not even NASA rockets are cooperating with climate scientists these days

I heard renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen speak at UCLA last week, and one of his key messages was that we need to get a better handle on the importance and effect of aerosols on the Earth’s warming.   He was quite excited about the launch of a new NASA satellite that would gather data to tell us more about aerosols and their effects.  This morning, that launch failed and the satellite crashed into the southern Pacific.  Read the story here and here

Aerosols (as described here) are tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere, and they come from both manmade and natural sources. Air pollution often consists of aerosols from burning fossil fuels, biomass and coal.  Aerosols act to cool the earth, counteracting the effect of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and, in this way, essentially buffering us from the full brunt of global warming.  Hansen’s message last week was that he suspects that aerosols are doing more of this ‘buffering’ that most people (and climate models) assume.  If true, this would mean that worldwide efforts to reduce traditional air pollution, as laudable and tremendously worthwhile as they are, may have significant unintended consequences for climate change. 

With the failure of this launch, it’ll take us a while longer to figure out if he’s right.

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Reader Comments

One Reply to “Not even NASA rockets are cooperating with climate scientists these days”

  1. We all agree that the loss of this satellite is tragic because there is a pressing need to better understand the effects of aerosols on climate, before wasting trillions of dollars on irrational government programs to regulate carbon dioxide. It is unlikely that funds will be available to replace this satellite anytime soon, but there is renewed hope that funds will not be wasted on carbon dioxide.

    The pending shut down of the federal government (and EPA) has been postponed for at least two more weeks while dwindling support for carbon dioxide regulation continues to decline as truth patiently gains ascendancy.

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About Cara

Cara Horowitz is the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. The Emmett Institute was founded as the f…

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