Archive for December 2003

Lost In The Stratosphere

December 30, 2003

John Ray has made a few posts, most recently here, arguing that CFC destruction of ozone is, in his words, a “Greenie scare”:

I thought I had covered the ozone story before but cannot see where I did — so: In 1991, the Greenies got everyone to ban CFC chemicals. CFCs were the normal gases that has always been used to make refrigerators and air conditioners work. CFCs even used to put the puff in all our aerosol cans. The ban was because CFCs supposedly destroyed earth’s ozone layer and caused the ozone “hole” over Antarctica. So the hole has of course shrunk by now, right? Wrong! As this U.N. report shows, the hole is as big as ever! Another Greenie scare proved wrong.

Tim Lambert at Deltoid has already demolished most of the assertions in Ray’s first two posts so I will only take on the most recent one. Ray says:

Far from following ANY regular progression, the hole clearly fluctuates wildly — as much as any other natural weather phenomenon

Denying that the ozone hole has followed a progression for the last 20 years falls under the category of “outrageous”. Go here and scroll down to the year-by-year graphic (I can’t link to it directly as it’s actually three graphics). What is immediately apparent from this graphic is that 2002, not 2003, was the anomalous year…

[the ozone hole’s] recent progression from super-small in 2002 to as-big-as-ever in 2003 was predicted by no-one.

…so when I read that assertion from Ray I was pretty sure he’d be totally wrong. It only took me five minutes of looking to find this story from NASA, dated December 2002:

A greater number of large “planetary sized waves” in the atmosphere that move from the lower atmosphere into the upper atmosphere were responsible for the smaller Antarctic ozone hole this fall, according to NASA researchers. The September 2002 ozone hole was half the size it was in 2000…. Newman stressed that the smaller ozone hole this fall is not an indication that the ozone layer is recovering. He said it?s simply due to a change in global weather patterns for this year, and next year it may likely be as large as it was last year.

Ray caps things off with this rather breathtaking statement:

And in science, if you can’t predict it buddy, you don’t understand it. So claiming to have found the “cause” of something you don’t understand is sheer hubris.

Complete rubbish. According to Ray, since I can’t predict exactly where on the Sun the next solar flare will occur (just to pick an example at random), I am disqualified from claiming I understand what causes solar flares. Some phenomena can only be predicted statistically.

Ray has, in three posts, presented nothing to counter the vast bulk of evidence that CFCs do cause ozone depletion – just a truckload of false assertions and the apparent belief that one year’s data is good enough to disprove the whole shebang.

UPDATE: John Ray has responded and asked me to explain “in small words” why the ozone hole has not shrunk despite CFC’s being banned for 12 years. I’ll do my best!

Firstly, CFC’s have not been banned for 12 years. I’m not sure where John got that figure from, but the Montreal Protocol called for a total phase-out of CFC’s by 1995 in developed countries and 2010 in the developing world.

Secondly, CFC’s take about 5 years to reach the stratosphere from time of release. Since many CFC’s are not released at time of manufacture, this actually means some CFC’s can take 15 years to get there.

Thirdly, the CFC ozone destruction process is catalytic, meaning that the ozone-destroying agent is not itself destroyed in the reaction. Chlorine radicals formed from exposure of CFC’s to UV react with ozone, forming chlorine monoxide and oxygen. Oxygen radicals formed by exposure of oxygen to UV then react with the chlorine monoxide forming oxygen and a chlorine radical… which attacks another ozone molecule. The numbers are fuzzy, of course (the range of possible reactions is much more complicated than the brief story above), but in this way it is estimated that one chlorine radical can destroy between 10,000 and 100,000 ozone molecules and remain in the atmosphere up to 75-100 years (eventually precipitating out, usually as HCl). Before you jump on the fuzziness of these numbers let it be said that the strong measures imposed in the Montreal Protocol were a reaction to the observed ozone depletion data, rather than theory. The ozone was being depleted faster than theory back then had suggested.

It’s true that the 2002 shrinkage was not predicted but year-by-year predictions are impossible. Nobody disputes that climate and weather are highly complex systems. The important thing is that the broader trend, of ozone depletion, was predicted and is clearly evident.

Regarding the nuclear testing study, I can’t answer that. My understanding is that certain nitrogen oxides do deplete ozone but that the effect is less important than CFC’s because it is not catalytic and therefore ozone concentration recovers quite quickly. However I have little knowledge of this and no knowledge of the study in question. At any rate nitrogen oxides are a separate issue to CFC’s.

King Mick

December 30, 2003

He looks like much more fun than Liz:

Sitting in his home in Jerilderie, 640km southwest of Sydney, in a T-shirt and shorts with a can of beer after a hard day at the wheel of a forklift truck, is the man who it is claimed should by rights be King Michael I of England.

Pictorial History Of Dumbleyung

December 30, 2003

Cover1.jpgFrequent commentor “os” writes:

I have recently become aware that 3 farmers from Dumbleyung have produced a book of local history, from 1890’s to present day. About 3,000 photos. They ponied up $100,000 of their own dosh to produce it. Sells for about $90.

If I find where to get it, I’ll let you know. Perhaps you already do.

“os” seems to know more about Dumbleyung than I do, which leads me to believe he may be someone I know who’s keeping his identity a secret. Conspiracy theories aside, he’s absolutely right.

Three farmers from Dumbleyung have produced a huge, glossy coffee table-style book documenting the history of the area since settlement in the 1890’s. By some weird coincidence (which is why this os fella has me wondering), I have been asked to produce a website to market the book over the internet.

That website is still in production, so in the meantime I’ve got a few sample photographs to share. Some of these photos may or may not be subject to copyright, so please don’t steal them if you can help it.
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Better Late Than Never

December 30, 2003

A belated Merry Christmas to all readers! This is what I asked Santa for, but apparently I’ve been naughty…

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Next year maybe?

Gweilo Down Under

December 29, 2003

For those readers I share with Conrad from Gweilo Diaries, don’t be dismayed at the lack of boobies during Conrad’s holiday. Australia and Drivelwarehouse’s own Pete Kerr, at Bitchin Monaro Guide long ago gave up posting pictures of white girls. It’s all Asian, all the time at Monaro nowadays!

Kimochi-ii could also come in handy, although you can’t make the old “reading it for the articles” excuse as far as that one’s concerned.

Check it out.

The World’s Your Oyster

December 29, 2003

Bjorn Lomborg has gone on record observing that, for the cost of implementing the Kyoto protocol, developed countries could instead provide clean drinking water for every human on Earth. A noble idea, indeed, and probably a lot more effective than what is on the table.

The Mises Institute estimates that it would cost the U.S. $397 billion by the year 2010 to implement the changes dictated by the Kyoto protocol. Now, I’m no public policy expert, but I think I can find something better than water to spend that amount of money on.

Hookers, for example.
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Io, Saturnalia!

December 24, 2003

On this day, about 2000 years ago, a guy called Jesus wasn’t born. Jesus’ true birthday was much earlier in the year – the site above puts it in August. The most likely origin of Christmas involves evangelists converting an existing festival called Saturnalia into a Christian celebration. So what was this Saturnalia?

Saturnalia (from the god Saturn) was the name the Romans gave to their holiday marking the Winter Solstice. Over the years, it expanded to a whole week, the 17th through 23rd of December. It also degenerated from mostly tomfoolery, marked chiefly by having masters and servants switch places, to sometimes debauchery, so that the (lower case) word “saturnalia” came to mean “orgy.”

Sounds good to me. I think I’d avoid those kind of shenanigans at family functions, though.

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday season.