The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Ozone layer- it's coming back  (Read 4886 times)

Offline VAlibrarian

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 173
    • View Profile
Ozone layer- it's coming back
« on: 08/04/2006 03:36:06 »
I understand from reading The Weather Makers that the ozone layer that had disappeared over the south pole is starting to come back, and scientists think the CFCs we put up in the atmosphere are dropping in quantity. This apparently dates from the Montreal Protocol of the mid-1980s.
What I would like to know is- if it was so easy to ban chlorofluorocarbons in order to prevent expected millions of cases of melanoma and widespread crop failures, why is it is so hard now to get an international agreement to reduce fossil fuel use in order to prevent the expected flooding of Bangladesh, the Pacific Islands, etc?
From a scientific standpoint there is little difference between the two atmospheric crises. In both cases, a scientific consensus took hold, although there was no way to "prove" that the problem would grow to the point of endangering human survival without using a time machine.

chris wiegard


 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #1 on: 08/04/2006 04:40:06 »
The agreement on CFC's is not perfect, and they are still being released into the atmosphere; but nonetheless, even at their height, the use of CFC's was very specialised.  The average guy in the streat, even in Western countries, did not create CFC's, even if he may have used them.  CFC's were totally in the control of a relatively small number of producers.

Fossil fuels, have been burnt since the dawn of civilisation, and are burnt by everyone from the most sophisticated Westerner to the people in the third world.

In any case, the issue is not really about fossil fuels, it is about greenhouse gases.  Burning of forest timber produces no less greenhouse gases than burning natural gas (in fact, it probably produces more), and yet forest timber is technically not a fossil fuel.  This shows how difficult it is even to define the terms of what we are trying to manage.

To stop the use of CFC's (which still took a fair amount of time to implement) meant changes to the refrigeration and air conditioning industries, and a handful of other hightech industries.  Since CFC's were only in existence for half a century before they were phased out, the number of industries that were utilising them was still fairly small.

Carbon based fuels (whether fossil or otherwise) are utilised by every human being on the globe, and form the core driving force of every industrial process at some point or another.  Switching all of this off will mean redesigning most of human activity from the ground up.

I think the differences are so blatantly obvious that it seems almost silly to try and enumerate them all.



George
 

Offline VAlibrarian

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 173
    • View Profile
Re: Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #2 on: 10/04/2006 18:42:13 »
True, there is a quantitative difference between the CFC industry and the universal human habit of generating energy through combustion. Preventing further damage from the former industry to our stratosphere was far easier than preventing further damage by the latter will be.

However, from my perspective the qualitative difference is not there. If one course of action will result in the human race to weather the next couple centuries without vast problems of international migration, then that is the course of action to undertake. The Status Quo may seem like the easy choice, but that easiness is temporary.

chris wiegard
 

Offline daveshorts

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2583
  • Physics, Experiments
    • View Profile
    • http://www.chaosscience.org.uk
Re: Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #3 on: 10/04/2006 19:01:45 »
The other big difference between the two is the potential damage they could cause. Global warming, which bad, is not going to wipe out the human race or even civilisation, it may make life awkward, and possibly cause a lot of people to have to move or even starve, but it certainly wouldn't be doomsday. However if we lost the whole ozone layer, crops and animals would drop in productivity hugely and could quite easily wipe out civilization, if possibly not quite the human race...
 

Offline Hadrian

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2175
  • Scallywag
    • View Profile
Re: Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #4 on: 10/04/2006 19:16:19 »
Totally agree with you Dave

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #5 on: 10/04/2006 21:12:17 »
quote:
Originally posted by daveshorts

The other big difference between the two is the potential damage they could cause. Global warming, which bad, is not going to wipe out the human race or even civilisation, it may make life awkward, and possibly cause a lot of people to have to move or even starve, but it certainly wouldn't be doomsday. However if we lost the whole ozone layer, crops and animals would drop in productivity hugely and could quite easily wipe out civilization, if possibly not quite the human race...



I am not sure that you are not overstating the potential damage that loss of the ozone layer would have caused.

It certainly would have raised mortality levels, but as a comparison, the fallout around Chernobyl has probably had a greater local impact, and while it has raised human mortality in the area considerably, it has not actually wiped out the local wild life.  No doubt it has effected the balance of wild life in the area, although the fact that the area has been denuded of its human population has probably had a greater direct impact on the environment than the effect of the radiation itself.



George
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #6 on: 10/04/2006 21:21:25 »
quote:
Originally posted by VAlibrarian

However, from my perspective the qualitative difference is not there. If one course of action will result in the human race to weather the next couple centuries without vast problems of international migration, then that is the course of action to undertake. The Status Quo may seem like the easy choice, but that easiness is temporary.




The status quo is never an option because tomorrow will always be different from today.

As for a couple of centuries without mass migration of human beings it has always been in the nature of humans (as with so many other animals) to regularly migrate and seek new habitats.  These migrations can cause political turmoil the more so as in modern times we have sought to lock down national borders; but these borders are of our own making, and are not something nature has handed down to us, nor something that has ever actually remained very stable or impermeable.

Migrations always pose a challenge, but a human population that is unable to migrate is something that has never been, and is something that is not natural to the human condition.  We must learn to live with that challenge rather than pretend it is something alien to us.

It is true that modern political systems, being so bound up with geographic locality, are not well suited to human migration; but it is the political systems that need to change, not the suppression of the long history of human migration.



George
 

Offline mark71

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #7 on: 02/06/2007 02:57:41 »
no it was just a colder than normal year last year in antartica...which apperently thins out ozone...due to global warming...
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Ozone layer- it's coming back
« Reply #7 on: 02/06/2007 02:57:41 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums