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Archive for the ‘ozone hole’ Category

1960s: The over-population theory explores the fear that there are too many people on earth and they are breeding too fast. It is predicted that by 1987 human activity will exceed the planet’s ability to sustain us with food, energy, and raw materials. The scenario, explored in the movie “Soilent Green”, is predicted to includes Biblical famine and death, anarchy, and the devolution of human society possibly including cannibalism. Human activity will have destroyed the earth’s ability to sustain human beings.

1970s: The “limits to growth” theory disseminates the fear that society will collapse by the year 2000 because there is a hard upper limit to the amount of fossil fuels, minerals, and other planetary resources that we can consume and therefore a limit to the level of economic growth that is achievable. Continued economic growth will run into this upper limit and cause a complete collapse of civilization as we know it.

1970s: The first ozone depletion scare campaign is waged against the development of the SST high altitude airliner with the allegedly scientific argument that nitric oxide (NOx) in the jet exhaust will deplete ozone in the ozone layer. The campaign is successful and the SST program is canceled. Their success emboldens environmental extremists and the modern version of planetary environmentalism based on fear takes form. Twenty years later the same scientists, alarmed by falling NOx concentration in the lower atmosphere declared that “NOx is the immune system of the atmosphere” because it prevents chlorine from depleting ozone.

1980s: The second ozone depletion scare campaign is waged against refrigerants that contain CFC chemicals saying that human activity was causing an ozone hole over the Antarctic and causing the establishment of the Montreal Protocol and a comprehensive ban on the most efficient and inexpensive refrigerants used worldwide. The ozone depletion science is proven wrong but the media that helped hype the ozone hole scare are silent on the issue. The ozone hole scare quietly disappears from the media.

1990s to present: The global warming scare campaign rises like a Phoenix from the ashes of the failed ozone hole scare campaign with the theory that carbon dioxide from fossil fuels accumulates in the atmosphere, traps heat, and warms up the planet with catastrophic consequences of Biblical proportions.

A daily search was made for the phrases “global warming” or “climate change” or both in all of the 278 English language newspapers worldwide served by The running seven-day average of these data are plotted in the chart below.

It shows a sudden rise around the time of he Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. Since that high some dramatic changes have occurred. The Copenhagen meeting failed, the climategate scandal broke, errors in the IPCC 2007 Assessment report kept popping up one after another, and the IPCC began backpedaling and retracting one scary claim after another.

These errors and their retractions have apparently silenced the previously very shrill voice of the UN’s climate change body. The almost daily new press releases of climate change calamity has ceased. The number of climate change stories has fallen dramatically and they continue to decline.

These data bode ill for the IPCC. Their position now is actually worse than it looks in this chart because many of the newspaper articles now being counted as global warming stories are not IPCC press releases but criticisms of the IPCC’s 2007 Assessment Report.

Cha-am Jamal, Thailand

The performance of green stocks is assessed as the weighted average value of green ETFs in excess of a corresponding normalized value of the S&P500 index with the difference set at zero at the beginning of the comparison period. The chart below shows that over the period from April 2008 to June 2010, green stocks have lost almost have their value relative to the S&P500 stocks.

Reference: Ocean’s fish could disappear, Bangkok Post, May 19, 2010

A UN report called “The Green Economy” says that our oceans are running out of fish (Ocean’s fish could disappear, Bangkok Post, May 19, 2010) and that environmental upheaval, ecological destruction around the planet, over-fishing, over-population, and government subsidies to the fishing industry are to blame.

This scare is not new. It was used at least twice before, first in 1977 (“Sea’s riches running out”) and again in 1994  (“Oceans running out of fish”). However scary the 2010 version of this story may be, with the reader left to contemplate oceans devoid of fish, it is comforting to note in retrospect that the catastrophic forecasts in prior scares about oceans running out of fish turned out to be wrong.

It appears that calamity scientists are running out of ideas having lost their grip on both the ozone hole scare and the global warming scare and now find themselves fishing for calamities.

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1. There are no natural or cyclical changes on earth. All measured changes in nature are trends and all trends are human caused.

2. The concentration of all chemicals in the atmosphere and oceans is important. If its concentration is going up it’s a bad thing and higher concentrations of this thing will be the end of the world.

3. If its concentration is going down it’s a good thing and if we run out of this thing it will be the end of the world.

4. Humans are not part of nature but space aliens that invaded this once pristine planet. The planet was fine until they arrived.

5. All human caused trends lead to catastrophic results for the environment and by extension, the planet itself.

6. Human scientists can save the planet from the other humans because these human caused catastrophic ends can be avoided only by human intervention prescribed by human scientists because they are scientists.

7. Human intervention is necessary to save the planet from human intervention.

8. Even if deniers find fault with the science of human caused catastrophe, we must ignore the deniers because we can’t take the chance that the scientists could turn out to be right.

9. The human invaders are now the managers of nature and therefore we humans must take care of nature and the planet because nature can no longer take care of itself now that the human invaders are here.

1969, The SST: A plan to develop high altitude supersonic airliners with the Boeing 2707 as a concept vehicle. The very high cruising altitude of the SST raised environmental alarms that included both climate change and ozone depletion.

1969, Climate change: An alarm is raised that chemicals and aerosols in the exhaust of the SST jet engines will cause climate change.

1970, Ozone depletion: The climate change theory is quietly shelved after critical reviews by skeptics and a new alarm is raised. Water vapor in the SST jet exhaust will cause a 4% depletion of ozone in the ozone layer causing 40,000 additional cases of skin cancer every year in the USA alone.

1970, Ozone depletion: The water vapor theory is quietly forgotten after critical reviews by skeptics who produced data showing that higher levels of water in the stratosphere is coincident with higher levels of ozone.

1970, Ozone depletion: A new ozone depletion theory emerges. Nitric oxide (NOx) in the SST jet exhaust will cause ozone depletion because NOx acts as a catalyst to destroy ozone without being consumed in the process.

1971, Ozone depletion: A computer model is developed to assess the impact of NOx in SST exhaust on the ozone layer. The model predicts that there will be a 50% ozone depletion and a worldwide epidemic of skin cancer. Animals that venture out during daylight will become blinded by UV radiation.  It was an apocalyptic scenario.

1971, Ozone depletion: NOx in the fireball of open air nuclear tests provide a ready laboratory to test the ozone depletion properties of NOx. The computer model predicted 10% ozone depletion by NOx from nuclear testing. Measurements showed no ozone depletion; but the model won anyway and the ozone depletion scare endured.

1972, Death of the SST: We were so frightened by the ozone depletion scare that the SST program was canceled although America’s skies soon became filled with supersonic fighters and bombers spewing NOx without any evidence of ozone depletion or of skin cancer or of blindness in animals.

1972, Nuclear summer: Although not confirmed by the data, ozone depletion by nuclear bombs predicted by the computer model took on a life of its own and morphed into a new catastrophe theory called the nuclear summer.

1972, Nuclear summer: The phrase “nuclear summer” is everywhere in the media. There is a doomsday forecast that the immediate result of a nuclear war will be the total annihilation of the ozone layer. All life on earth will be wiped out by UV radiation. Therefore there can be no winner or loser in a nuclear exchange of sufficient intensity. Mutual assured destruction.

1973, Nuclear summer: Report by the National Academy of Science: An exchange of thousands of megatons of nuclear bombs will increase NOx in the stratosphere by an order of magnitude. The NOx will destroy 30%-70% of the ozone in the northern hemisphere and 20%-40% of ozone in the southern hemisphere. Within a few months we will be blinded and roasted by UV radiation with blistering of the skin. The atmosphere will take 30 years to recover. All of these findings were derived from a sophisticated computer model and these findings were supported by a broad consensus of scientists.

1973, Nuclear summer: Skeptics of the ozone scare point out that the study of nuclear testing did not show any ozone depletion and also that vast amounts of NOx – more than man could ever inject into the stratosphere – is made by nature when solar wind strikes nitrogen in the atmosphere; and therefore that there must be something wrong with the computer model that causes it to over-estimate the effect of NOx on ozone.

1973, Space Shuttle: Unperturbed by the skeptics and emboldened by their SST success, fear mongering scientists turn their attention to the proposed Space Shuttle program. The shuttle design included two solid fuel rockets that emit hydrogen chloride (HCl). Scientists calculated that 50 flights per year would deposit 5000 tons of HCl per year in the stratosphere that could cause a 10% ozone depletion over Florida and 1% to 2% elsewhere. Although the scare was hyped it never got to the SST levels and the space shuttle miraculously survived the ozone scare.

1974, Ozone depletion: The ozone depletion game was now in full gear. Having tasted the power of being able to inflict debilitating fear of ozone depletion, the scientists embarked on a fishing expedition to find other chemicals generated by human activity that could get up to the stratosphere and catalyze the chemical reactions of ozone depletion.

1974, CFC: A new candidate agent for ozone depletion is found. Chlorofluorocarbons are synthetic chemicals used in aerosol sprays and in refrigerant for air conditioners and refrigerators. CFC emissions to the atmosphere accumulate in the stratosphere because there are no sinks to remove them from the lower atmosphere. Up in the stratosphere they are able to catalyze the destruction of ozone. The ozone depletion game was thus begun anew.

1974, Doomsday Theory:  When CFCs rise to the stratosphere they are decomposed by UV radiation to release chlorine. The chlorine ion can then catalyze thousands of ozone destruction cycles without being consumed. Up to 40% of the ozone will be destroyed. The chlorine theory was old but its ready supply from CFCs was a completely new angle and so a new doomsday scenario was quickly sketched out for dissemination.

NY Times, September 26, 1974, A big day for Doomsday journalism. The NYT predicts ozone depletion of 18% by 1990 and 50% by 2030 by CFCs will cause skin cancer epidemic, mutation of frogs, blindness in animals and people. The whole world is frightened. The ozone scare had begun anew this time with CFC as the agent of ozone depletion. The scare was very successful and it appeared in various forms almost every day in newspapers and television for the next two decades.


1983, nuclear winter: Carl Sagan and co-authors publish an article in Science that, based on their computer model, a nuclear exchange between the Cold War rivals or even a single preemptive strike by one upon the other would spew enough particulates and aerosols into the stratosphere to occlude sunlight for weeks causing temperatures worldwide to drop by 30C. Social and human settlement infrastructures will collapse and throughout the world there would be starvation, hypothermia, disease, and death.

1983, nuclear winter: Skeptics point out flaws in the nuclear winter computer model saying that it does not include the effect of oceans and of weather phenomena such as hurricanes that would clear the mist out of the stratosphere; but the nuclear winter scare continued to get top play in the media.

1985, nuclear winter: Sagan and co-authors finally admit that they may have exaggerated the nuclear winter effects of their model but that they did it for a good cause and that was to preserve the deterrence property of nuclear weapons that was thought to be in jeopardy due to improvements in nuclear weapons technology and the dangerous idea contained in the Star Wars program that a nuclear war was winnable.

1980, global warming: scientists detect rising carbon dioxide levels coincident with rising temperatures since the industrial revolution and conclude that the increase in CO2 comes from our use of fossil fuels and that it cause temperatures to rise.


1992, Scientists discover large quantities of chlorine monoxide in the stratosphere above the Arctic circle and announce that it will cause an ozone hole over the Arctic with dire forecasts of UV related disease and destruction to follow.

1992, Scientists announce that the ozone hole problem over the Arctic is worse than previously thought because along with high concentrations of chlorine in the stratosphere they also found unusually low concentrations of NOx in the lower atmosphere. This is bad because “NOx is the immune system of the atmosphere” because it protects ozone from destruction by chlorine.

Epitaph: So now we have come full circle with NOx, a chemical that started out in this story as a bad guy that caused ozone depletion until they found NOx depletion and then it became a good guy that protects ozone from destruction by chlorine.