ThinkProgress author Joe Romm recently posted an article titled, “Study: Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Chinese Coal Plant Sulfur Pollution” based on a study titled, “Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008.” As Romm points out, Reuters released a story regarding the study titled, “Asia pollution blamed for halt in warming: study,” which was then used by Fox News…
Fox Nation, the right wing extremist site brought to us by Fox News, took the Reuters story and renamed it, “Reuters Bombshell: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduce Global Warming.”
Sulfur pollution is not a greenhouse gas. Quite the reverse, as the Reuters article Fox News links to makes clear. Indeed, its ability to cool the globe has been known for many, many decades.
As Media Matters reports, the study’s lead author, Robert Kaufmann, denounced the headline as “patently false” via email:
Now come the worst part of publishing an article on a topic of general interest … the distortions. Sulfur emissions ARE NOT GREENHOUSE GASES and the article carefully separates the two. Sulfur emissions are known as radiatively active gases because they reflect incoming solar radiation back to space. But they are not greenhouse gases, which affect Earth’s energy balance by absorbing out-going long wave radiation. So the headline is PATENTLY FALSE….
Sulfur emissions are bad air pollutants–with severe health (e.g. respiratory disease that contribute to tens of thousands of deaths) and environmental effects (acid deposition, which makes entire lakes lifeless). I am no an expert in this area, but these effects are the reasons that all industrial nations have strict limits on sulfur emissions and now developing nations are scrubbing their emissions too.