Earth’s Atmosphere – now with added dust!

When I was a fisherman, I learned the old saying of “red sunset at night, sailor’s delight; red sunrise in morning, sailor take warning”.
This piece of weather lore dates back to biblical times – a similar advice is in the book of Matthew, which reads:
“When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.”
Weather lore has always played an important part in fishing and the red sunrise/sunset advice does have some roots in truth (an explanation can be read here); but a problem was increasingly occurring – the advice wasn’t working any more.
Even back in the mid to late 80’s; many second/third generation fishermen I worked with thought something was up with the “crazy weather”. This was long before terms such as climate change and global warming were commonly used.
It’s been a long time since I was in the fishing game, but weather still fascinates me and something I’ve been noticing for some years is there’s a red sunset practically every night and a red sunrise just about every morning – and it means nothing in relation to how the weather actually turns out. Thinking back as far as I can to when I was a child, I do remember sunsets and sunrises that were not red.
Part of the reason for increasing frequency of red sunrises and sunsets may be raised levels of dust in the atmosphere.
According to Natalie Mahowald, an associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, the amount of dust in the Earth’s atmosphere has doubled – just over the last century.
This increase in dust doesn’t just mean weather lore is getting screwed up, the top of our fridges are accumulating more filth and dust bunnies are breeding like, well, rabbits; it can also influence clouds and precipitation, leading to droughts. And what happens when there’s a drought? Even more dust gets whipped up.
Some people feel that to believe in anthropogenic (human caused) climate change is arrogant in that how could one species create such a disturbance on a planet so comparatively large? 
I remember someone explaining that if you compared the atmosphere and earth to a billiard ball, the atmosphere would only be as thick as the paint on the ball – so comparatively, it’s very, very thin. 
Bearing that in mind and considering all our transport, agricultural and industrial activity, types of activity that this planet has never seen before, it makes it much easier to understand that we can and do have an effect on dust levels, on climate, on everything – either directly or indirectly. While Professor Mahowald’s research focused on “natural” dust; the expanding deserts and other conditions of environmental degradation that are the source the dust can also be linked to our activity.