Ozone and CFC's
(repost of an article I posted a couple of months ago)
The following excerpts come from an article in the 24 May issue of
_Chemical and Engineering News_, the regular magazine of the
American Chemical Society.
The main text of the article, by C&E editor Pamela Zurer, is a nice
summary (about 10 pages) of the present status of ozone depletion research;
the excerpts come from a sidebar.
Articles in C&E News are not Ex Cathedra pronouncements from the ACS, but
they generally represent the consensus of expert opinion in the field - they
have roughly the same status as articles in the front pages of _Science_
Begin quoted text:
_Researchers Aghast at Misconceptions about CFC's, Ozone Depletion_
According to some skeptics, whose voices have lately been growing louder,
ozone depletion is not a serious environmental problem but a scientific
fraud. To the working atmospheric science community, such ignorance of
20 years of intense research, coupled with the constant repetition of
misrepresentations and half-truths, is frustrating and insulting.
Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is one of the more prominent
individuals responsible for propagating the idea that concern over ozone
depletion is much ado about nothing. On the air and in his best-selling book,
'The Way Things Ought to Be", he says 'environmentalist wackos' unhappy
with the American way of life are behind the effort to ban chlorofluorocarbons
Limbaugh often cites Dixy Lee Ray, the former governor of Washington State
who once headed the Atomic Energy Commission. Ray's latest book,
Overkill', devotes two error-ridden chapters to ozone depletion. She says
only small amounts of CFC's could enter the stratosphere because they are
heavier than air. The Antarctic ozone hole was first observed in the 1950's,
she claims, so could not be caused by CFCs, whose emissions were quite small
at that time.
Ray, in turn, cites a book called 'Holes in the Ozone Scare: The Scientific
Evidence that the Sky isn't Falling', by Rogelio A. Maduro and Ralf
Schauerhammer. Maduro - who previously published magazine articles arguing
the same points - is an associate editor of _21st Century Science and
Technology_ magazine, which often is linked with jailed political activist
Lyndon LaRouche. LaRouche has no formal connection with the magazine,
according to staff there, although it has published some of his articles
and he served on the board of directors of the foundation that published
its predecessor, _Fusion_...
These critics' supposedly scientific debunking of the current understanding
of the ozone issue often relies on misreadings of old scientific literature.
They ignore more recent research that leads to different conclusions than
the ones they promote. To researchers who keep up in the field, critics'
arguments appear so patently incorrect and out-of-date that it has hardly
seemed worth taking the time to rebut them.
That attitude among atmospheric scientists is changing, however, as such
misinformation gains wider currency. NASA research scientist Richard S.
Stolarski, for example, would like to see the community collaborate on a
book. Carefully documented with scientific references, it would explain
how scientists have drawn the conclusions they have about ozone.
End quoted text
The sidebar goes on to refute three common myths: that CFC's cannot
rise into the stratosphere because they are heavier than air, that natural
sources such a seawater and volcanoes contribute more to stratospheric
chlorine than CFC emissions, and that the ozone hole was first discovered
in 1956. These myths are discussed in more detail in my FAQ, to be posted
on sci.environment this weekend.