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Order the cheeseburger (with fries) |

Order the cheeseburger (with fries)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Finally, a weapon against global warming that everyone can applaud. The mighty cheeseburger, with pickles and even a splash of mayo with the mustard, may be what we’ve been waiting for.


Chemists at three universities in Britain have discovered that when droplets of cooking fat are released into the atmosphere they form “complex structures” which attract moisture and become clouds. The bigger the city, the greater the concentration of skillets and fatty food, the more cooking fat is suspended in the atmosphere, and the researchers say this is responsible for putting 10 percent of the small particles in the air, inviting rainy weather. Fried foods may be good for the planet if not necessarily for the waistlines of people on the planet.

This could have a positive effect on cooling the planet, and might even slow down global warming, Dr. Christian Pfrang, an associate professor of physical and atmospheric chemistry at the University of Reading, tells the London Daily Telegraph.

“It is likely that these complex structures have a significant effect on water intake of droplets in the atmosphere, increase lifetimes of reactive molecules and generally slow down transport inside these droplets with yet unexplored consequences,” he says. “We’re not saying that becoming a healthier eater could have an impact on climate, but fat does seem to encourage cloud formation.”

So far the experiments, at Reading and at the University of Bristol and the University of Bath, have been conducted in laboratories, and the researchers are eager now to examine how the process works in the environment. Cooks send the droplets into the air through extractor fans and even open windows.

Researchers at the University of Bath found that the complex structures are formed by fatty acid molecules similar to those of soap in water. “There, they dramatically affect whether the mixture is cloudy or transparent, solid or liquid, and how much it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere in the lab,” one researcher writes in the magazine Nature Communications. “The idea that this may also be happening in the air above our heads is exciting, and raises challenges in understanding what these cooking fats are really doing to the world around us.”

So order up, and have a side of fries with that.

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