Huge Arctic Ozone Hole Leaves Scientists Gaping

By:  Rebecca Terrell
10/05/2011
       
Huge Arctic Ozone Hole Leaves Scientists Gaping

The science journal Nature is making headlines this week with news of the largest hole in the ozone layer over the North Pole in history, rivaling the size of its well known Antarctic cousin. Researchers credit this "unprecedented Arctic ozone loss" to "unusually long-lasting cold conditions" in the stratosphere at a time when their colleagues are in turmoil over melting Arctic sea ice a few miles below, supposedly caused by man-made global warming. Of course, humans are also responsible for the chilly stratosphere, they say. With sky-is-falling overtones the article's authors warn, "We cannot at present predict when such severe Arctic ozone depletion may be matched or exceeded."

Nor do they know when such levels have been matched or exceeded in the past. The NASA satellite record goes back only to 1979, according to meteorologist and weather technology expert Anthony Watts. That amounts to little more than 30 years of data, which can hardly be considered a baseline for making doomsday predictions and framing public policy.

The science journal Nature is making headlines this week with news of the largest hole in the ozone layer over the North Pole in history, rivaling the size of its well known Antarctic cousin. Researchers credit this "unprecedented Arctic ozone loss" to "unusually long-lasting cold conditions" in the stratosphere at a time when their colleagues are in turmoil over melting Arctic sea ice a few miles below, supposedly caused by man-made global warming. Of course, humans are also responsible for the chilly stratosphere, they say. With sky-is-falling overtones the article's authors warn, "We cannot at present predict when such severe Arctic ozone depletion may be matched or exceeded."

Nor do they know when such levels have been matched or exceeded in the past. The NASA satellite record goes back only to 1979, according to meteorologist and weather technology expert Anthony Watts. That amounts to little more than 30 years of data, which can hardly be considered a baseline for making doomsday predictions and framing public policy.

Yet that is exactly what has happened since 1985 when scientists first spied a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica and immediately blamed humans and their aerosol cans. S. Fred Singer, professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, recounts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) knee-jerk hysteria.

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