Saving Ozone

Today is an environmental landmark – on January 23, 1972 Sweden became the first country to ban aerosol sprays. Reacting to scientific concerns chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damaged the ozone layer, Sweden’s swift action set the stage for a world-wide ban.

Visionary Swedes abolished CFCs before science discovered the Antarctic ozone hole – ponder decisive environmental action based solely on reputable concern. Spared decades of irreparable damage at the hands of anti-ozone propaganda machines – Sweden stepped up in the interest of us all. America followed in October of 1978.  On January 1, 1989 the Montreal Protocol took effect. Officially the “Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer” – a global treaty signed by almost every nation, effectively abolished use of CFCs.

Did it work? The answer is a cautious slowly but surely. Since the mid 90s, Antarctic ozone holes have “stabilized” – that in itself an environmental victory. Optimistic science predicts recovery by 2050-2070.

This is where I get worked up – switching from CFCs to other propellents or pump action dispensers might have been mildly inconvenient, yet hardly broke the bank or put vast numbers of corporate interests in financial jeopardy.  The world played nice, behaving responsibly because alternatives didn’t bankrupt the bottom line. We took science at its word – our ozone was in danger, anything less than responsible action became out of the question.

Harmful carbon dioxide levels are an entirely different matter. Look no further than the failed Kyoto Accord – a global treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, systematically dropped by worst offending powerhouse nations. China and the U.S. – awarded dubious distinction of first and second worst offenders, with 27% and 14% of global greenhouse gas production, can’t even be bothered to go through the motions. Neither country participates in 2001 talks to adopt the protocol. A statement released by America’s Environmental Protection Agency states, “the Bush administration has no interest in implementing the Kyoto Protocol”.

Protecting ozone passed with nary a whimper – everyone’s on board when environmental salvation doesn’t rattle big business, irrefutable science was good enough for ozone.  Dare  apply logic to greenhouse gas and climate change – suddenly science is ruled by nincompoops.

Ponder climate change denial – ask yourself who stands to lose, and who spends exorbitant amounts of money on denying the obvious.

Delicate Balance

What better way to start the new year than with a ponder. Something to think about, talk about, learn more about.

Scientists from Harvard and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research,  have announced that melting ice due to global warming,  effects volcanic activity. Water is heavy; as it flows to and collects in our oceans, extraordinary pressure is put on the tectonic plates. In a nutshell – continents get lighter, oceans heavier.  By looking at core samples up to a million years old, evidence of volcanic ash were present in times of warmer climates. The conclusion being; extra pressure forced more magma towards the surface.

Climate change is not the hot topic it was a few years ago. Al Gore has faded from the talk show and speaker for hire circuit. In 2011 Stephen Harper pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol; an international agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions. Certainly a move that sent a jubilant cry throughout the “oil sands” in his home province of Alberta. Big business has settled nicely into the practice of trading carbon credits. Global warming came as a boom for the plastics industry; it created “environmental awareness” demanding millions of recycling bins. Ironic that plastic production is one of the worst offenders, not to mention the millions of barrels of oil required.

Life is a delicate balance; every action has a reaction. Life could not exist without a precise natural order. Cycles of climate change are part of that order. Are greenhouse gasses speeding up the process? Who can say for sure.

I look at it much like the “dust bowl’ in the 1930’s. Credited as the worst man made disaster in North America. A natural ten year cycle of drought occurred; the problem was, poor farming practices had stripped the great plains of grass. With natural grass gone, along with the 5 foot root system that kept soil in place – the plains simply blew away.

Global warming is a natural occurrence, charging full speed towards modern greed and indifference. Glaciers and the ice shelf are melting faster than they can be replenished. Ocean levels will rise, weather will become increasingly severe, and it seems volcanic activity will increase. Taking the lesson of dust bowl farmers; we can’t stop natural cycles, but can take steps to soften their impact.

Jacobshavn Glacier retreat lines

Jacobshavn Glacier retreat: The rapidly retreating Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland drains the central ice sheet. This image shows the glacier in 2001, flowing from upper right to lower left. Terminus locations before 2001 were determined by surveys and more recent contours were derived from Landsat data. The recent stages of retreat have widened the ice front, placing more of the glacier in contact with the ocean. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory, Cindy Starr, based on data from Ole Bennike and Anker Weidick (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) and Landsat data.