According to a new paper by researchers at the University of Exeter, a certain amount of air pollution may actually be good for the planet.
Atmospheric particles — such as the emissions of coal-fueled power plants — scatter the sun’s UV rays. Less light reaches the earth (some is reflected back into space), but the light that does reach us falls in more diffuse patterns, with more light hitting the leaves of plants at the bottom of forest canopies. The end result is more botanical growth and a nearly 25 percent increase in “global plant productivity,” which removes carbon from the atmosphere. Paradoxically, then, our desire to limit greenhouse gases may result in a marked decrease in air quality.
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