Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports on new research revealing that the huge increase in coal-fired power stations in China, up from just over 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2002 to over 80GW in 2006, has masked the impact of global warming in the last decade because of the cooling effect of their sulphur emissions. But scientists warn that rapid warming is likely to resume when the short-lived sulphur pollution – which also causes acid rain – is cleaned up and the full heating effect of long-lived carbon dioxide is felt. 'Reductions in carbon emissions will be more important as China installs scrubbers [on its coal-fired power stations], which reduce sulphur emissions,' says Dr. Robert Kaufman. 'This, and solar insolation increasing as part of the normal solar cycle, [will mean] temperature is likely to increase faster.' The effect also explains the lack of global temperature rise seen between 1940 and 1970 as the effect of the sulphur emissions from increased coal burning outpaced that of carbon emissions, until acid rain controls were introduced, after which temperature rose quickly. 'Warming due to the CO2 released by Chinese industrialization has been partially masked by cooling due to reflection of solar radiation by sulphur emissions,' says Prof Joanna Haigh. 'On longer timescales, with cleaner emissions, the warming effect will be more marked.'"
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