Friday, September 01, 2006

 

'Mending' of Ozone Hole Provides Glimpse of Hope

Political news is so laden with misery, it's surprising more of those of us who are obsessed with it aren't on anti-depressants, but there has been one bright spot at the very least in recent weeks. Remember the ozone hole? We were quite worried about it during the eighties when worldwide concern about the environment first kicked off. Chemicals-CFCs- used in aerosols and fridges,were combining with other chemicals in the upper atmosphere to cause depletion of the layer of ozone which filters out harmful radiation from the sun. Scientists warned that unless there was remedial international action, skin cancers would increase vastly plus eye cataracts as well as harm to crop yields and sea life.

In 1987 the Montreal Protocol committed signatories to ban ozone-harmful products; sceptics doubted its efficacy but the invention of a substitute (HFCF-22) aided the process and now UN agences tell us that the ozone layer is on the mend with recovery for most of the world likely by 2050 and the more problematic Antarctic region by 2065. Amazing. An example of international cooperation that has genuinely worked. And reason to hope, maybe, that something similar can be managed regarding carbon emissions on the reductiuon of which David Cameron wants the goverment to commit itself via legislation.

But this is a much taller order as the reductions required entail three major changes:

i) consumer restrictions of travel and lifestyles to which the developed world has become jealously addicted and the developing world is fast learning to be;
ii)an attitude sea change by George Bush and his oil lobby cronies/advisers;
iii) much more radical technological innovations than we have seen to date, plus their worldwide adoption.

With warming speeding up and CO2 beginning to escape from massive tracts of permafrosted land in Asia, the achievement of any one of the above by an increasingly anarchic world seems remote chance from where we are now but at least the Ozone Hole success gives us some reason to hope.

Comments:
An "attitude sea change" by George Bush clearly isn't going to happen, but if (as is likely) Al Gore features prominently in the 2008 presidential election, expect green issues to increase in saliency.
 
Do not fear, the tory party are going to team up with Friends of the Earth. Their environment spokesman had no idea what they are going to do when interviewed on the BBC but it all sounds good.

By the way, Al Gore said this week he is no longer interested in politics and will not be involved in 2008.
 
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