It is widely recognised that humans are their own worst enemies when it comes to global warming.
But the latest research from Nasa suggests laws created to preserve the environment are causing much of the damage.
Legislation to improve air quality and cut acid rain has accounted for a shocking half of Arctic warming over the past three decades, the space agency reports.
Climate scientist Drew Shindell of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York found that declines in solid 'aerosol' particles brought in under laws to improve air quality likely triggered 45 per cent of temperature rises.
Aerosols - including the man-made particles sulfates and soot - have a direct impact on climate change by reflecting and absorbing the sun's radiation, Nasa explains.
But laws brought in by the U.S. and European countries over the past three decades have slashed emissions of sulfates, and with them atmospheric cooling.
The revelation shakes the theory that greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide, are the main problem in the fight to steady the planet's climate.
Shindell said: 'There's a tendency to think of aerosols as small players, but they're not. Right now, in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere and in the Arctic, the impact of aerosols is just as strong as that of greenhouse gases.
"We will have very little leverage over climate in the next couple of decades if we're just looking at carbon dioxide."
"If we want to stop the Arctic summer sea ice from melting completely over the next few decades, we're much better off looking at aerosols and ozone."