Sunday, 22 August 2010

Remember the ozone hole? Have we learned anything?

The scientist responsible for leading the team which discovered the ozone hole over Antarctica in 1985 has spoken out about the lack of co-ordinated effort to tackle global warming.

When Dr Farman's team at the British Antarctic Survey reported the ozone hole in 1985, it highlighted the earth's fragility and catalysed the environmental movement into action.

In an interview with the BBC on the 25th anniversary of the reporting of the ozone hole, Dr Joe Farman said the environment was still being damaged in many ways.

Dr Farman was particularly critical of politicians who he claimed had failed to show leadership on combating climate change, saying it was "damned stupid" to keep increasing carbon emissions when we know it is a warming gas.

But, in a nod to climate sceptics, he also blamed the scientific establishment for failing to take specific criticisms of detailed climate science seriously enough.

As with the relationship between carbon emissions and warming, it was found that the ozone layer was being stripped away by chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were mostly used in aerosols and refrigerators. Although resisted at the time by some manufacturers, the making of ozone-depleting chemicals was controlled within two years under the Montreal Protocol.

Dr Farman says that governments have failed to learn the lesson that they need to move swiftly and act decisively on global threats to the environment. "You ought to be able to convince people it's a damned stupid thing to increase CO2 - clearly that must trap more energy," he says.

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