It was proposed at the March 5 meeting that SfP start a working-group on these issues. SfP invites you to join this group.
Most people believe that government and industry have responded adequately to the problem of ozone depletion. However, what has actually happened is that industry has co-opted governments in both regulatory policy, and more recently in scientific research. While the media does not report on the issue because of its complexity, such groups as Greenpeace International and Friends of the Earth have been producing extremely sophisticated critiques and alternatives for several years.
In the atmosphere society has found, quite accidentally, what a Wall Street takeover specialist would call a “highly leveraged situation”. The temperature of the earth’s surface is determined by the composition of the air, but the parts that make the greatest difference are not the major components, but rather a few “trace” constituents. Due to the ozone hole, we have already lost 12% of Antarctic phytoplankton (Weathernetwork, mid-March 1994) which act as a major carbon sink and cloud-cover source. The Arctic tundra has recently changed from being a net carbon sink, to being a source estimated with one and a half the value of Canada’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions. (Nature 361, 520-523).
And all models show that while the surface temperature of the earth will rise, the stratosphere will get much colder. Lower stratospheric temperatures are important to accelerated ozone depletion. Ozone depletion and green-house warming are now tightly coupled, and we must search for realistic courses of action that will avoid pushing us into a far less than desirable future.
Most recent CFC consumption figures show Article 5 (third-world) countries of the Montreal Protocol averaging a 54% increase over 1986 baseline rates. In 1993/1994, Canadians spent $440 per capita on the military and 50 cents per capita on all ozone-layer research and regulation at home and abroad.
Science for Peace is in a unique position to analyze and disseminate a better alternative vision. If the Working Group can recruit members more broadly from universities and the Canadian Stratospheric ozone research community, then we may play a significant role in public policy-making.
Anyone interested in joining WGOCC may contact Peter Shepherd through the Science for Peace office.