Now polluters can rebrand themselves as 'storm killers'

Hurricane Irene as seen from space in August 2011. Credit: Image credit: Flickr/NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Dirty air in decades past may have suppressed hurricanes in North Atlantic

Good news for polluters: You have a brand new talking point, courtesy of a study recently published in Nature Geoscience which suggests that man-made air pollution had suppressed storm activity in parts of the world in recent decades. The atmosphere is filled with all kinds of particles. Ninety percent of them are natural -- sea spray, volcanic ash, dust, etc. But about 10% is "anthropogenic aerosol," or created by human activities such as driving, manufacturing and burning fossil fuels for heat. Researchers tried to "assess the effect of individual climate drivers on the frequency of North Atlantic tropical storms between 1860 and 2050, using simulations from a collection of climate models," according to the paper's abstract. "We show that anthropogenic aerosols lowered the frequency of tropical storms over the twentieth century." Anthropogenic aerosols have declined in recent years, thanks to the cumulative effect of legislation enacted in the U.S. and Europe during the 1970s and '80s. This effort to clean the planet's air has had an unintended consequence: "Sharp declines in anthropogenic aerosol levels over the North Atlantic at the end of the twentieth century allowed the frequency of tropical storms to increase," the abstract says. “It seems the Clean Air Act in particular has led to an increased number of hurricanes over the last decade or so,” Doug Smith of Met Office Hadley Centre in England, a coauthor of the research, says in ScienceNews.org. Clearly environmentalists have been terribly unfair to polluters, who are owed a big apology and a heartfelt "thank you" for sparing us so many hurricanes in years past. It's fair to say none of us deserve you. Now read this:

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