Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mother Nature whacks the environmentalists upside the head again...

Mother Nature whacks the environmentalists upside the head again...  Several decades ago, scientists told the world that CFCs were causing the ozone layer to be depleted, resulting in a worldwide band and billions of dollars being spent to replace them with inferior products.  About ten years ago, scientists noted that – unexpectedly – the ozone hole was still being formed in some years, despite the elimination of CFCs.  Now scientists “belatedly” have discovered that there's apparently a natural source of CFCs, and they're unsure about whether the ban on man-made CFCs accomplished anything at all.

The earth is such a complex, inter-connected system that it's hard to weasel out any hard fact about it.  In this case the scientists a few decades back assumed that CFCs in the atmosphere were from man-made sources, because they didn't know any mechanism for such a molecule to be produced naturally.  Oops.  Bad assumption.  Only after billions of dollars were spent on what was essentially an enormous experiment did they learn the truth.  We're still spending lots of money on this experiment, as cooling systems across the globe are now running with fluids that are substantially less efficient than CFCs, costing the planet a lot of extra energy consumption.

Almost certainly the ban on CFCs will not be lifted, just as the ban on DDT has not been, despite the shaky science that prompted it.  In this case, I'm not at all certain the CFC ban should be lifted – more confirmation would be needed to make me comfortable about reversing it.  However, it seems clear that the ban shouldn't have been imposed without a more convincing scientific case having been made...

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