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Ozone Layer Improving Faster Than Expected 325

Posted by Zonk
from the go-ozone-go-ozone dept.
SpaceAdmiral writes "Since the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which limited ozone-destroying gasses like CFCs, the Earth's ozone layer has been recovering. However, new studies show that the ozone in the lower stratosphere is actually recovering faster than the Montreal Protocol alone can explain." From the article: "It's a complicated question. CFCs are not the only things that can influence the ozone layer; sunspots, volcanoes and weather also play a role. Ultraviolet rays from sunspots boost the ozone layer, while sulfurous gases emitted by some volcanoes can weaken it. Cold air in the stratosphere can either weaken or boost the ozone layer, depending on altitude and latitude. These processes and others are laid out in a review just published in the May 4th issue of Nature: 'The search for signs of recovery of the ozone layer' by Elizabeth Westhead and Signe Andersen."
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Ozone Layer Improving Faster Than Expected

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  • by Saven Marek (739395) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:29AM (#15414999)
    This brought to you by the same people who INSIST global warming is man-made and it's time to kill our economy by placing unnecessary restrictions on it.

    The world can take a lot more than we small humans are dishing out to it. The oceans alone can absorb 100 times more CO2 than we have ever pumped into the atmosphere without taking a blink. This is just more proof of nature's resilience. Don't bow to the environmentalist hype machine.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:30AM (#15415001)
    We're playing with chemicals, eating toxic foods, messing with nature's balance, wasting or restoring ozone layer beyond our comprehension, using electronics that cause tumors and other illnesses... and in this mess somewhere, the bare truth shines:

    we know shit
  • by daveb (4522) <davebremer@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:36AM (#15415012) Homepage
    ok - so if I read this right it's saying that things aren't going as predicted. the implied message seems to be something like "science got it wrong" - but the whole point of science is to improve knowledge. That point, the essential element of science, is that we do NOT know it all and seek to improve.

    Look - the chance of everything changing EXACTLY as predicted (by anyone) is almost nil. so headlines will always read:

    XXXX is going BETTER/WORSE than predicted.

    Really - nothing to see here - please keep moving

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:46AM (#15415038)
    Thanks, but I'll take scientific research over seemingly unfounded Slashdot postings any day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:49AM (#15415047)
    The world isn't black and white, the fact that CFC's break down the ozone layer doesn't mean that other factor don't also play a part and the fact that other factors influence ozone doesn't mean that CFC's don't break down the ozone layer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:56AM (#15415055)
    Sure, it's all natural - the same way that CO2 emissions are increasing naturally. It's all caused by squids rearranging silt deep in the ocean. They'll eventually move it back were it belongs and the CO2 levels will go down again. So don't worry, just drive your SUVs, every problem which is related to "nature" will fix itself automatically. Because if it won't it would just be very inconvenient. And we don't like to worry about inconvenient things now, do we?

    Of course this brain-dead theory has about as much basis in actual science as yours. If you don't believe the measurements indicating that the ozone hole was increasing (back when it was) why do you believe the measurements now that it is decreasing?

  • by ralph alpha (956305) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:09AM (#15415079)
    It is really important that you recognize that, as with any scientific venture, and with logical argument, there is never undeniable "proof" of anything -- just evidence that points one way or the other.
    And there's a lot more evidence pointing toward the idea that we *are* harming it than evidence that we *aren't*.
    People want undeniable "proof" because the idea that we are harming it is so controversial, and otherwise they aren't willing to accept it. If this is the case, then like any other controversial scientific topic, it will be many years before the majority of people will even consider its validity.
    What are you looking for? An article that says "Proof Humans Are Responsible For Global Warming?" There are already lots of those out there, but even the scientists behind the research used for these sensational articles would disapprove of the titles. It could be said that people need such articles because nobody is willing to read scientific journals and conduct research themselves -- and this is perfectly reasonable.
    If you want lots of legitimate scientific studies about this topic, Google Scholar [google.com] or your local university's libary can sure help out.
  • by xiphoris (839465) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:10AM (#15415081) Homepage
    ok - so if I read this right it's saying that things aren't going as predicted. the implied message seems to be something like "science got it wrong" - but the whole point of science is to improve knowledge

    Part of the problem with this system is that things like the Montreal Protocol are not science. It aims to solve a problem that might exist with remedies that might fix it. Note the usage of the world "explains" instead of "predicts". Most scientific theories are like economics: they can 'explain' plenty, but they can't really predict anything. Ultimately, all this talk about the weather is not science because we can't do experiments. There is simply no way to do scientific experiments with the global climate, and so theories about it don't quite make it all the way.

    Using such theories to make worldwide policy is not exactly scientific when there is no actual evidence they have the verified power of prediction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:26AM (#15415100)
    How did I know there'd be some rightwing nutcase jumping on this as some kind of vindication that idiots like Michael Chricton should be listened re: global warming and climate change?

    Here's a thought for you - try reading the article. You'll notice that the vast majority of ozone is concentrated in the upper stratosphere above 18 km, and this is reacting exactly as predicted by current models. It is only in a small band of the lower stratosphere that improvements are being seen that have surpassed predictions.

    This doesn't mean the science on reducing levels of CFC's is wrong. It certainly doesn't mean that the completely different topic of climate change is something that should be ignored.

    Don't be an idiot, please. We have way too many of them.
    (PS. If you'd really like to learn something current and accurate about climatology of all sorts, you should visit www.realclimate.org - it's a site that is run by climatologists to educate and inform. You may actually want to understand what you're talking about before spouting off...)
  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:30AM (#15415109) Homepage
    I don't accept this simplistic formula, that science is only science if it involves experimentation. There are plenty of knowledge-creating practices that I would describe as "scientific" that do no use laboratory or strictly experimental methods: meteorology and climateology are two of them, as are different types of evolutionary and behavioral sciences (some animal behavior study is lab-based, but the more important work is field work.) Observing patterns and creating models based on observed patterns, and making predictions based on those models, is, as far as I'm concern, a scientific posture.

    And the "verification" is the same as it would be for a laboratory model: the model needs to explain the extant data, whether laboratory-produced or gathered from the field. Using models to make policy based on field-gathered data is substantially more "scientific" than using wishful thinking based on economic self-interest.
  • Duh..... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by IHC Navistar (967161) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:31AM (#15415110)
    Did anyone ever wonder just HOW the ozone layer got there in the first place? Most likely, it was the product of atmospheric electrical activity. Converseley, it has probably gone under reductions in the past from volcanic emmission, LONG before you or I were on this planet. As it appears, the ozone layer has most likely undergone cycles of reduction and increase many many many times in the past.

    Sometimes, eco-freaks are just plain wrong. I guess they must be smoking some bad granola.....

    -----

    Why do people get offended when I give them my opinion after they ask for it?

  • by Atario (673917) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:47AM (#15415138) Homepage
    We're playing with chemicals
    I play with chemicals all day: molecular oxygen and nitrogen [wisc.edu], carbon dioxide [ghgonline.org], various hydrocarbon compounds [usda.gov], proteins [exploratorium.edu], and of course, the deadly dihydrogen monoxide [snopes.com].
    eating toxic foods
    You eat toxic foods? How are you still alive? What are all the toxins anyway? Can you give me a list? No? Huh...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:52AM (#15415149)
    The issue isn't that science isn't perfect.

    The issue is that the whole ozone layer problem became politicized. An international treaty was made before the problem was well understood. Everyone just assumed the worst, and the treaty turned out to be overkill.

    The people who were economically affected, which includes almost everyone, might not be amused. Even criminal codes may have to be adjusted (for example, should it be a felony to discharge R-12 or R-134a?). This is all because the environmentalists got on their high horse and gambled. And they were wrong.

    This is very significant because in the global warming debate, credibility of the groups making dire claims is of great significance. Perhaps the #1 reason the US doesn't follow programs like the Kyoto Treaty is because of the lack of trust of the environmentalist political movement. Noone trusts them to tell the truth. Everyone assumes that environmentalists follow the philosophy: "the ends justify the means."
  • by Hao Wu (652581) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:09AM (#15415264) Homepage
    With most things, there is a price to being right or wrong.

    I think that many people feel upset or offended that science naturally dissociates itself from such consequences.

  • by Shisha (145964) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:15AM (#15415273) Homepage
    That's exactly the point (in disguise). The GP is clearly either making fun of us, or he's one of the paranoid tinfoil hat prone enviromentalists. Anything is toxic in the wrong amounts! E.g. a glass of wine is fine and yet you can die of alcohol poisoning. Hence the adage "everything in moderation". Hence even a small number of "the paranoid tinfoil hat prone enviromentalists" are good for the society.
  • by SlashSquatch (928150) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:37AM (#15415301) Homepage
    Think of the ozone layer as Earth's sunglasses, protecting life on the surface from the harmful glare of the sun's strongest ultraviolet rays, which can cause skin cancer and other maladies.

    Thanks NASA, I'm confused now. Lets not slap the public with too much cold hard science at once. A diagram of the earth wearing sunglasses might help me understand how that can help it prevent skin cancer and other maladies. My two year can think of a better opener -- "I've got new shoes" seems to be slightly more informative.

    "Do the chickens have large talons?"
    "Boy I didn't understand a word you just said."

  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:41AM (#15415308)
    "Observing patterns and creating models based on observed patterns, and making predictions based on those models, is, as far as I'm concern, a scientific posture."

    Not really relevant what you (or I) think is a "scientific posture". This appears to be a conflation on your part of two definitions of the word science.

    Webster's:

    1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
    2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
    3. any of the branches of natural or physical science. 4. systematized knowledge in general.
    5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
    6. a particular branch of knowledge.
    7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.

    The scientific method requires a testable hypothesis. One cannot do this with weather, as indicated by a predecessor post. Weather can fall into 4, 5 or 6, not 1 (because we don't know the generalized laws), 2 (because we can't experiment on a sufficient scale) or 7 (because it ain't precise).
  • by BakaHoushi (786009) <Goss.SeanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:00AM (#15415496) Homepage
    I believe what the OP was stating is that there are certain things we consume that actually are poisonous... in large doses. Alcohol is one such example. Ever heard of alcohol POISONING? No, if you have a beer, you won't die, because your body can deal with such a small level of poison. But keep drinking vodka, whisky, and whatever else you can get your hands on all night long and you could very well die.

    Similarly, cyanide is obviously poisonous. But one molecule? Not so much, because your body can surely handle that. Poisons are only dangerous at various levels.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:12AM (#15415536)
    Have you not ever heard that it's better to err on the side of caution?

    Sure, but how do you define caution? To the extent that human activity can be directly associated with measurable, specific climate factors... and to the extent that specific changes in regulatory roles or carbon bartering, etc. will have some identifiable outcome, you've got something to talk about. But since there's absolutely no way to be that specific, we have to look at specific, economy-wounding proposals with a wary eye. Why? Because the only thing that will reduce emissions is better technology and the huge, culture-wide adoption of same.

    And the only way that gets done is in the presence of a thriving economy that has the largess to invest in such things, and families with enough income to do things like build more efficient houses and take a net loss for driving a hybrid, etc. When you tax the bejesus out of people, or limit the high-tech economies most able to actually spend billions of dollars on researching/developing bio-fuels and other marginal improvements, you slow, rather than accelerate the cure for our part (such as it is) of the warming trend. But when the same protocols that would damage the most innovative economies allow the dirtiest (in terms of emissions and rapid growth thereof) economies (say, China, or India) to just blast away as if it were 100 years ago when no one knew any better... well, that's not "erring on the side of caution."

    If you crush the profitable economies even as they are already leading the way to more efficient energy use... you're going to set back the progress more than by any other means.
  • by dangermouse (2242) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:34AM (#15415599) Homepage
    I've had a hard time with the scale, too-- mostly because the amount of crap we pump out is almost incomprehensibly huge. Emissions are measured in millions of tons per year [doe.gov], for crying out loud. In 2003, the world was consuming [cia.gov] something like eighty million (42-gallon) barrels of oil per day-- and by consuming, I mostly mean burning. At the same time, we've been knocking down forest like nobody's business [nasa.gov].

    So yeah, the planet is ridiculously big, and it's unimaginably old. But there are a lot of us, and we are going to town on that atmosphere.

  • by kirk__243 (967535) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:42AM (#15415625)
    If it's not science, what is it? Superstition?

    This is something that is studied by scientists in a scientific (ie critical and fact based) manner, and then considered and debated by other scientists in the field of study. And you think it's not science?

    You can't experiment on the planet as a whole, but

    - measure the levels of ozone and see a reduction
    - measure the levels of CFC output and see an increase
    - determine through experiments (or simple chemical knowledge) that CFCs reaction with ozone

    and deduce that the increased levels of CFC are decreasing levels of ozone. That's science, through and through.

  • by Woldry (928749) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:01AM (#15415687) Journal
    You must be young. Let me add some other predictions I've heard in my lifetime:

    Global cooling, resulting in a new Ice Age (never mind that we haven't yet finished leaving the last one)
    Coastal cities flooded by 2000
    Ozone layer destroyed by 1990
    Stopping forest fires is the most important way to protect our forests
    Starting forest fires is the most important way to protect our forests
    No edible fish by 1985
    No potable water by 2000
    World War III (global thermonuclear war, of course) by 2000



    Can't wait to see what the next doomsday scenario will be. More fun than riding a rollercoaster.
  • by maxume (22995) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:12AM (#15415723)
    There was clear evidence that freon and such were eroding the ozone layer. Stopping use was certainly a 'might help', but given the very real consequences of ozone depletion(skin cancer rates *were* increasing and ozone layer depletion was the *best* explanation), 'might help' is a pretty good reason to act.

    If you insist, we can say that it isn't science, but are you proposing that doing nothing would have been better than the Montreal protocol? Or are you just pissing in a can because science enjoys a slightly broader definition than you would like?
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:28AM (#15415972) Homepage Journal
    Weather can fall into 4, 5 or 6, not 1 (because we don't know the generalized laws), 2 (because we can't experiment on a sufficient scale) or 7 (because it ain't precise). (emphasis mine)

    Did you read your own post?

    2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. (emphasis mine)

    Observation is just as valid a method of getting information as is experimentation; it just takes longer and you have to be more careful to gather sufficient data. Climatology and meteorology, like geology/geophysics/geochemistry, astronomy/astrophysics, and large sections of biology including all of paleontology and, at the opposite end of the temporal scale, most of epidemiology, rely largely on observation, testing specific hypotheses with experimentation when possible (which, these days, is more often than you might think.) Are you seriously denying that all of these are sciences?
  • Re:Global warming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:37AM (#15416007) Homepage Journal
    Citing Michael Crichton in an argument about climatology is like citing Oliver Stone in an argument about history.
  • Re:Global warming (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:24AM (#15416174) Homepage
    He may not be a scientist, and he may be wrong about global warming. But he does have a point about science, consensus, and poitical agendas. Perhaps you are as wrong in critisizing him and calling me a stupid sheep as I am in calling his speech a good one. Or perhaps you're right. Either way, could we please keep the discussion civilized and free of offensive remarks about people we have no knowledge of?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:19PM (#15416886)
    What an appropriate captcha: emotions.

    I can't believe the number of science deniers out there. So many people are agreeing with you, but it's obvious they did not read the article. The article mention that the ozone above 18 km is recovering and follows the pattern predicted by scientific research.

    The portion just below 18km is showing recovery above that predicted research results. If you just pay attention to the graph, that area below 18km looks like an anomoly and it's not even a dramatic concentration of ozone. The article isn't even clear about how much above the prediction that anomoly appears to be.

    Is that ozone 10% more, 100% more, or 1000% more? There's no indication. Yet, you and all the deniers are jumping on this data as if it was 1000% more. 30 years of science has determined that CFC's and ozone layer thickness closely matches. Sure, corelation != causation, but those of you who like to spout that phrase aren't generally the scientist and generally don't have all the data. You just see the limited information reported by some news media and take that as the complete picture.

    The facts do speak for themselves, but you can't selectively choose your facts. You must look at the entire picture and see all the facts. Science is about gathering and sorting all the facts before making a determination. Sure some scientists might falsify data, but there is a thing called peer review. The fakes will be caught eventually.

    The lack of a good education in science in the U.S.A. must be partly to blame for this lack of credence in science and the jumping to conclusions on a single data point. I can only see it getting worse as some states just approved the teaching of a completely unscientific "intelligent design" as science. Those children will only grow up becoming stupid about true science and scientific method.
  • by daveb (4522) <davebremer@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:31PM (#15416932) Homepage
    I think that many people feel upset or offended that science naturally dissociates itself from such consequences.

    Yeah - true - there are spoilt children everywhere. I often hear them shouting "it's not fair ... but you PROMISED" when things don't go as planned & expected. and in discussions like this, the "children" are over 20 who should know better

    all science can do is make predictions based on current knowledge, known facts, and best hypothesis. If "many people" can't accept that ... well what can you do?

  • by Maximilio (969075) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:35PM (#15416944) Homepage Journal
    I think you made some spelling mistakes. I'v corrected them: This brought to you by the same people who HAVE PROVEN global warming is man-made and think we should fix it by improving our energy efficiency, not incidentally generating thousands of jobs and improving our socioeconomic status a thousandfold.

    I'm really fucking tired of this canard being spouted by people with no understanding of the issue. So let's get it straight, shall we: the issue is that YES we are causing global warming. The evidence is on the table. If you are qualified as a climate scientist and NOT in the pay of a major oil company, you may rebut. Otherwise, shut your pie-hole. You know nothing.

    The other part of your statement, regarding killing the economy, is utter horse malarkey. The only reason it is uttered is to cause confusion and fear. The stance of 95% of the people who are worried about global warming is that we should be improving our energy efficiency as a matter of national policy. I have yet to see anyone credibly address how using fuel more efficiently can cause harm to our economy. I have yet to see anyone credibly address how using cleaner fuels could cause harm to our economy. I have yet to see anyone credibly address how it would cost our economy to invest in renewables. There are a number of easily-demonstrated [yale.edu] examples where energy efficiency and CO2 reduction is easily attained, but of course that's at the expense of the retirement packages of charming individuals like this [wikipedia.org] so of course we can't be doing THAT here!

    The only people who are benefiting from our inefficient energy economy are a handful of undeservedly wealthy robber barons whose sum total contribution to our society isn't worth a fart in the wind. The rest of us won't miss them if they're cut loose and forced back into actually working for a living. They benefit because of the unique circumstances of having gotten into the business on the ground floor, and believe for some unknown reason that it's their right and privledge to always control the spigots of our energy flow. They are wrong.

  • by SETIGuy (33768) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:43PM (#15416970) Homepage
    This brought to you by the same people who INSIST global warming is man-made and it's time to kill our economy by placing unnecessary restrictions on it.

    Yeah, it's those same people who insist that poverty [heritage.org] still exists in the U.S. and that the holocaust happened [biblebelievers.org.au]. Damn liberals even say that improving our energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gasses will improve our economy. We all know that God controls the climate directly and that the rest of those things are liberal lies.

    The world can take a lot more than we small humans are dishing out to it. The oceans alone can absorb 100 times more CO2 than we have ever pumped into the atmosphere without taking a blink. This is just more proof of nature's resilience. Don't bow to the environmentalist hype machine.

    Yeah, who cares if the increasing oceanic acidity [miami.edu] due to the absorbed CO2 prevents organisms from building the shells that would allow the CO2 to be deposited in ocean sediments. Just imagine water from your local reservoir being pre-carbonated. It'll be nice to have a cool fizzy beverage on the hot days to come.

  • by deuterium (96874) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:46PM (#15417310)
    I know that a million tons sounds like a lot, but consider that the total atmosphere is estimated at about 5,000 trillion [wikipedia.org] metric tons. A million is only .00001% of a trillion.
    I think that as humans we tend to think about things in relation to our own scale. If we live in a city, we look around us at the density and activity of other humans and extrapolate that as the norm. We forget that the majority of the earth's surface [wikipedia.org] is undeveloped. Also, 6 billion people sounds like a lot of people, but they would all fit comfortably in the grand canyon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:11PM (#15417427)
    1) Global cooling was never a scientific consensus, and the only people claiming there would be global cooling were non-scientists and the media who helped spin it. It was never suggested that it would occur in any peer-reviewed scientific literature. Link. [realclimate.org]

    2) If you look at the rest of your list you will find that none of the other "predictions" were ever made in the scientific literature either. In fact, none of them ever represented a scientific consensus amongst the professional scientific community.

    (However, many of your choices are blatantly misrepresented lies of yours based upon some truth that you no doubt wish to ignore. Forest fire management is complex. Lack of potable water is an increasing issue in today's world. Fish stocks have dropped to 10% of their pre-industrial levels, and many are already commercially worthless. WWIII was always a credible threat. And I can guarantee that no scientist in the respective field ever gave such timelines for effects. The fact that you quote spurious times above shows you for the troll you are.)

    Now, Climate change IS a scientific consensus. It IS recognised and agreed upon by every single climatologist. It is also accepted to be anthropogenic (caused by man) by every climatologist except for a handful who work for biased interests (oil companies). There are thousands times more scientists who understand the science and principles who agree about anthropogenic climate change than the small fraction who dissent (and even the dissenters agree that it is occurring - they have just moved from denying it, to shifting the blame from anthropogenic causes).

    Get it through your thick head - there is NO DEBATE. It is happening and your little stick-your-head-in-the-sand attitude is laughable. Get a fucking brain.

  • by maxume (22995) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:24PM (#15418001)
    Is taxonomy science? Or is it not experimental enough? Observation combined with the construction of theories is science. If you disagree, fine.

    I agree that the question of whether the protocol is effective is important, and the costs do need to be weighed, but when everything is an experiment and you only have on sample to work with, it pays to be cautious.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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