Fossil fuels are rapidly warming the planet, and the aerosols from their combustion kill millions of people each year. So we need to rapidly decarbonize. But in an ironic twist, those aerosols actually have one beneficial side effect: They cool the atmosphere. It creates an odd climate contradiction. If we burn less gas, oil, and coal, we’ll stop loading the sky with planet-warming carbon, but we’ll also load it with fewer planet-cooling aerosols.
But exactly how much cooling we get from aerosols, and how strong that effect will be as the world weans off fossil fuels, are huge questions among climate researchers. “It’s taken as read that aerosols are important,”
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