Ozone Layer Some scientists have proclaimed that the human race is slowly depleting the layer of ozone which protects us from ultra violet light. In reality, humans have very little control of the world in which we live. Scientific evidence has shown that there is very little depletion in the ozone layer and the contributions the human race makes towards this depletion is and always will be insignificant compared to nature. The theories of the depletion and what it would cause are flawed and contradictory. Where and when did this global killing threat begin? It all began in the mid 1960’s when the United States government began pursuing super sonic transports. These would be planes which would travel in the stratosphere, very close to the ozone layer.
The first environmentalist complaints were actually of the noise factor. These large planes would be traveling in excess of the speed of sound. Subsequently there would be sonic booms heard on the surface (Singer). The arguments fell on deaf ears in Washington. The next objection came in the form of ozone depletion. A fleet of over 500 of these planes would ultimately destroy the ozone. This would allow more ultra violet radiation to fall to the earth and in turn skin cancer rates would sky rocket.
That was more than enough for the federal government to get involved, they immediately canceled the project. At that time there was no study done to investigate these claims, but there has been since. The initial estimation was that a fleet of 500 SSTs would effectively reduce the ozone layer seventy percent. In the 1970’s that number fell to ten percent. With the emergence of the Concorde, which is a SST, in the 1980’s, studies were done that show the emissions from these planes actually insulate the ozone layer and prevent it from being depleted (Singer).
There is irony in the fact that the initial claim of ozone depletion, actually turned out to aid it. This isn’t the only piece of irony when it comes to the ozone. The second part of the initial claim said that ultra violet light would fall on the earth and cancer rates would go up. One could claim that melanoma rate have gone up within the past years because melanoma rates have increased 800% since statistics were first collected in 1935. Unfortunately there has been no corresponding change in the ozone layer or the amount of UV light reaching the surface.
To the contrary, UV levels have been on the decline at every test center (Singer). Also the fact that indoor workers have a twenty-one percent higher chance to get melanoma than outdoor workers, further supports the fact that UV rays themselves do not induce melanoma (Howard). Another piece of irony, the SSTs cause ozone depletion, which in turn cause UV rays to increase. And UV rays equal cancer, right? Paragraph on the current measurements of the ozone and what scientists believe cause the changes in thickness. When SSTs were no longer an issue the scientific community was still concerned about this claim of depleting the ozone layer.
They began to look at what else could cause this depletion and at this time compiled a list of ozone gases. Ozone gases have now become a term associated with those awful gases which destroy the human race’s only protection from the sun and it’s deadly UV rays. What are these gases though? Where do they come from? The most commonly referred to of gases are CFCs. These gases are Fluorocarbons. CFCs come from commonly used items such as aerosol cans, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Believers in the depletion theory believe that humans release these gases and they go into the atmosphere and neutralize the chemicals that hold the ozone together.
Thus holes begin to emerge and in turn the whole world is doomed. One study in 1959 stated that if the fluorocarbon industry continues to grow at it’s twenty-two percent rate between 1960 and 1972, then by 1995 the ozone would be depleted by over forty percent (Ponte). Well the industry grew at over twenty-two percent during those years and yet there hasn’t been a forty percent decrease in ozone. Not even a thirty, or even a fifteen and even ten is too large. In actuality the measurements now show a six percent increase (Bidinotto).
Yes an increase! The other amazing fact is that in 1976 an Alaskan volcano spewed 570 times the worlds CFC production (Begely). That means in a matter of days this one volcano produced more CFCs than the human race has in the last 570 years. Some scientists argue that volcanoes can’t actually propel these gases far enough into the atmosphere to cause any damage. If this is truly the case, how am I then supposed to believe that my little can of deodorant actually can? In trying to defend their claim they actually disprove what it was they were saying in the first place. The other major gas claimed to deplete the ozone layer is chlorine.
This claim is very easy to discredit. Chlorine gas weighs two and a half times more than air. It would take tremendous amounts of force to put it high enough into the air to effect the ozone (Singer). These facts, long hidden from the public’s eye, didn’t discourage politicians from creating regulations on CFCs. In 1978, the United states and other western nations, unilaterally banned the use of CFCs in all aerosol products (Ponte).
This didn’t last long though. The Japanese and the Europeans were not ready for this ban yet, due to two main reasons. Number one was the great cost to replace CFCs in all it’s applications. The second was there was no replacement for CFCs in many of it’s applications. But times change and technology advances, and thus in the early 1990’s up sprung the Montreal Project (Howard).
This was a multi-national project to reduce the amount of CFCs used in the world. There was a 300 page study done showing the negative effects of CFCs on our environment. This was a much awaited study by the scientific community. Many scientists wanted to embrace the cause, while others were ready to dispute it. After many of the countries involved signed their name to the project the study was to be released.
Unfortunately after it’s approval the study was amazingly lost. So the first bit of irony in this case is the only scientists to read the study, were the scientists that wrote it (Bidinotto). This didn’t prevent the countries from adopting this policy though. Now that the Montreal Project has been adopted and set to begin in the year 2000, what does that mean? The first thing to look at is the cost of replacing the CFCs. If the United States government would decide to pay for the replacement of the CFCs in the United States, then this would be the equivalent of doubling the federal deficit.
Not only is it costly, but it is also hazardous. The replacements for CFCs just happen to be toxic and corrosive (Howard). This not being bad enough, they are also vastly inferior to CFCs (Howard). Robert Watson, head of the ozone trends panel and a supporter of CFC banning said, “Probably more people world wide would die from food as a consequence of inadequate refrigeration than would die from the depleting ozone”. How can this even be considered.
People are actually going to die because of a lost, unproven study. The next effect the depleting ozone layer will have is in aiding the green house effect. The green house effect says that when there is a hole in the ozone layer, harmful UV rays are allowed onto the surface of the earth. These UV rays would effect plants in a way that they end up producing too much CO2. This CO2 then goes into the atmosphere and begins to insulate and create ozone. This insulation causes the temperature of the earth to increase (Howard). Sounds believable, almost.
The problem in this claim is once again in the claim. If the basis for the greenhouse effect is that there is a hole in the ozone, then CO2 being released into the atmosphere and creating ozone seems awful contradictory. Not only that, but the United States government believes that a CO2 increase would actually increase agricultural productivity (USA). This would mean an increase in CO2 absorbing plants, which in turn would mean CO2 levels would fall back down. But you’ve heard about the ozone hole over the antarctic right? If this hole does exist what does that mean? Nothing unless you live in the antarctic.
Scientists have proven there is a hole over the antarctic, but they have also proven that this hole can not expand out of the antarctic region, due to unique meteorological conditions(Bidinotto). But how did the hole get there? The first thing you need to know is that when the first reading of the ozone layer was taken, there was a hole (Singer). It hasn’t suddenly appeared due to human’s inappropriate use of anything. Where scientists claim holes occupy, there are natural factors which account for the holes entirely (Lutgens). So it seems the so called hole is earth-made not man-made.
The scientific community very rarely agrees one hundred percent on anything, but what are the percentages? The Gallup Poll of February 1992 polled climatologists and atmospheric physicists and found that seventeen percent say they believe the ozone hole is real while eighty three percent disagree (Howard).Dr. Derek Barton, a Nobel prize winning chemist says there’s so much propaganda, “I don’t believe it” (Begley). Dr, Fred Singer, the man who invented the device to measure ozone, says the threat of depletion is vastly exaggerated (Singer). Only seventeen percent of scientist believe in the green house theory (Haimson). So the scientific community definitely does not see a ozone depletion.
The ozone depletion theory began in an attempt to prevent a fleet of SSTs from being implemented. The theory has changed as the times and evidence produce contradictions. The new theory has become as much political as it has scientific. One of President Clinton’s top advisors recently said, “We have to follow this greenhouse effect issue even if it is wrong. We will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy” (Limbaugh). With all the contradictory evidence how is it we still believe? Humans have a need to know that they can effect the environment around them.
Scientists and politicians have fed off this and given us a sense of control. In reality though we have no control over the ozone layer. Bibliography Begely, Sharon. “Is the Ozone Hole in Our Heads?” News Week October 11, 1993: pg. 71.
Bindotto, Robert “Ozone and Objectivity” Online. November 20, 1996 “Can We Delay a Greenhouse Warming?” United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1983 Limbaugh, Rush. See I Told You So. New York: Pocket Books a division of Simon and Schuster Inc. 1993 Lutgens, Fredrick K.
and Tarback, Edward J. The Atmosphere NJ Prentic-Hall, Inc. 1986 pg. 189- 195. Singer, Fred, S.
Ph.D. “My Adventures in the Ozone Layer.” Online November 18,1997 Ponte, Lowell. The Cooling NJ Prentice- Hall Inc., 1976 Haimson, Lepnie, Oppenheimer, Michael, and Wilcove, David “The Way Things Really Are” Online.