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Air Pollution and Climate Change

There are many different types of air pollution. Some types of air pollution make the Earth get warmer. Other types of air pollution make the Earth get cooler. Read on to learn more about how different types of air pollution change Earth’s temperature.

Air pollutants that make Earth warmer

Air pollution includes greenhouse gases. One of these is carbon dioxide, a common part of the exhaust from cars and trucks. Greenhouse gases cause the Earth to warm by trapping heat from the Sun in the atmosphere. Some greenhouse gases are a natural part of the air. Some were added to the air by people’s cars and trucks that release greenhouse gases as fuel is burned. Some were added to the air from smokestacks at factories and power plants. More greenhouses gases in the air means more global warming. In fact, since cars were invented and factories and power plants were built more than a century ago, the Earth’s temperature has increased. Scientists say that the Earth will get even warmer during the next 100 years.

Air pollutants that slow down global warming

Cars, trucks, and smokestacks also let tiny particles loose into the atmosphere. These tiny particles are called aerosols and can be made of different things. Some of these particles get into the atmosphere naturally. They are released from the ocean, deserts, forests, volcanoes, and are a part of the smoke from wildfires. But air pollution released by cars and smokestacks also adds them to the atmosphere. Aerosols have an impact on climate. While different types of aerosols act differently in the atmosphere, the overall effect of aerosols is cooling.

Last modified June 17, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.

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