Please examine this post carefully. It really is important.
The Skeptics vs. the Ozone Hole
By Jeffrey Masters, Ph.D.
On June 28, 1974, Sherry Rowland and Mario Molina, chemists at the University of California, Irvine, published the first scientific paper warning that human-generated chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could cause serious harm to Earth’s protective ozone layer (Molina and Rowland, 1974). They calculated that if CFC production continued to increase at the going rate of 10%/year until 1990, then remain steady, CFCs would cause a global 5 to 7 percent ozone loss by 1995 and 30-50% loss by 2050.
They warned that the loss of ozone would significantly increase the amount of skin-damaging ultraviolet UV-B light reaching the surface, greatly increasing skin cancer and cataracts. The loss of stratospheric ozone could also significantly cool the stratosphere, potentially causing destructive climate change. Although no stratospheric ozone loss had been observed yet, CFCs should be banned, they said. At the time, the CFC industry was worth about $8 billion in the U.S., employed over 600,000 people directly, and 1.4 million people indirectly (Roan, 1989).
Critics and skeptics–primarily industry spokespeople and scientists from conservative think tanks–immediately attacked the theory. Despite the fact that Molina and Rowland’s theory had wide support in the scientific community, a handful of skeptics, their voices greatly amplified by the public relations machines of powerful corporations and politicians sympathetic to them, succeeded in delaying imposition of controls on CFCs for many years. However, the stunning discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985 proved the skeptics wrong. Human-generated CFCs were indeed destroying Earth’s protective ozone layer. In fact, the ozone depletion was far worse than Molina and Roland had predicted. No one had imagined that ozone depletions like the 50% losses being observed by 1987 over Antarctica were possible so soon. Despite the continued opposition of many of the skeptics, the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to phase out ozone-destroying chemicals, was hurriedly approved in 1987 to address the threat.
Ozone depletion worsened globally throughout the 1990′s, with peak ozone losses reaching 70% in Antarctica in Spring, 30% in the Arctic in Spring, 8% in Australia in summer, 10-15% in New Zealand in summer, and 3% globally year-round (WMO, 2002; Manin et. al., 2001; McKenzie et. al., 1999). In response, the international community adopted four amendments to the Montreal Protocol in the 1990′s to promote an ever faster phase out of ozone-destroying chemicals. Finally, in the early 2000′s, although the we cannot yet say that stratospheric ozone depletion has reached its maximum, atmospheric levels of ozone-destroying substances in the atmosphere are now declining, and a disappearance of the Antarctic ozone hole is expected by about 2050 (WMO, 2002). Molina and Rowland were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1995. The citation from the Nobel committee credited them with helping to deliver the Earth from a potential environmental disaster.
Note how similar the opposition to CFC controls by industry were to the current attempts by industry lobbyists and their Right-Wing allies to discredit concerns about current global warming. Note how similar these objections are to those used to attack AGW, and how many of them found their way into the Habitable Zone. These are the section headings in this article, it is well worth your time to at least scan the entire sections yourself and see the well-documented support material the author has included. (And yes, at the end of the article you will find all the footnotes you could possibly want.) I’m sure you will find many of the same arguments, organizations and personalities here that we have heard in response to AGW.
Techniques of the Skeptics
Launch a public relations campaign disputing the evidence.
Predict dire economic consequences, and ignore the cost benefits.
Find and pay a respected scientist to argue persuasively against the threat.
Use non-peer reviewed scientific publications or industry-funded scientists who don’t publish original peer-reviewed scientific work to support your point of view.
Trumpet discredited scientific studies and myths supporting your point of view as scientific fact.
Point to the substantial scientific uncertainty, and the certainty of economic loss if immediate action is taken.
Use data from a local area to support your views, and ignore the global evidence.
Disparage scientists, saying they are playing up uncertain predictions of doom in order to get research funding.
Disparage environmentalists, claiming they are hyping environmental problems in order to further their ideological goals.
Complain that it is unfair to require regulatory action in the U.S., as it would put the nation at an economic disadvantage.
Claim that more research is needed before action should be taken.
Argue that it is less expensive to live with the effects.
In a 1984 interview in The New Yorker, Rowland concluded, “Nothing will be done about this problem until there is further evidence that a significant loss of ozone has occurred. Unfortunately, this means that if there is a disaster in the making in the stratosphere we are probably not going to avoid it.” These prophetic words were proved true the very next year with the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. Luckily, it appears that serious damage to the planet was averted with the swift implementation of the Montreal Protocol. Unfortunately, it appears that we have not learned our lesson from the past 30 years’ experience with the ozone-CFC debate. Once again, we find a theory that has wide support in the scientific community being attacked by a handful of skeptics, publishing outside of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, their voices greatly amplified by the public relations machines of powerful corporations and politicians sympathetic to them. The skeptics have trotted out the same bag of tricks used in the CFC-ozone depletion debate, this time to delay any response to the threat of global warming. And once again, it will likely take a disaster to change things–unless we wise up to their tricks.
These are not debates, or honest differences of opinions, or scientific uncertainties or healthy skepticism; these are evidence of cynical, orchestrated and well-funded campaigns to prevent regulation of dangerous industrial activities with life-and-death consequences in order to protect lucrative business profits. These are crimes against humanity, and as people who believe in the value of science it is our duty to expose these criminals in the hope they can be brought to justice.