Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT

CFC’s the Real Reason for Ozone Loss?

October 13, 2011

Op/ed By Kevin Roeten (roetenks@charter.net)

How many individuals and corporations have lost money and jobs over theoretical ozone depletion? Why have natural variations never been considered as a possible reason for seasonal ozone loss? With ozone (O3) depletion, millions were (and are) convinced that chlorofluorocarbons (CFC´s), and certain brominated compounds (Halons), were responsible. Due to their theorized Ozone Depletion Potential (ODS), the most stable non-toxic refrigerants, and safest halogenated fire retardants, were phased out of production.

Few have tried to estimate the collateral damage brought about by the phase-out of  CFCs and Halons. There was no chemical disadvantage–toxicity, mutagenicity, atmospheric stability, flammability–of both options were excellent. In fact, when fighting fires with Halons (fire extinguisher), the extinguishing fumes could be breathed similar to oxygen for a limited period of time. No other fire retardant can claim that.

Back in the early eighties, it became possible to monitor ozone concentrations. It was noticed that O3 concentrations were dropping in the early spring of two of the coldest continents–the Arctic, and Antarctica (having the most seasonal depletion). But two scientists (Roland and Molina) appeared determined to find answers to suspected ozone depletion. Problem was ozone was theoretically being depleted in large quantities over the earth´s northern (Arctic) and southern (Antarctic) poles.

Their theory claiming CFCs would deplete the ozone layer was actually their final theory, invented in December 1973. The first five ozone depletion theories (1-[SuperSonicTransport (SST)-water], 2-[SST-nitrogen oxides], 3-[atmospheric nuclear tests], 4-[fertilizers], and 5-[methane gases from cows]) didn´t quite fit the bill. Then, the theory “du-jour” (#6) was chlorine from the Space Shuttle exhaust would cause reduced ozone over Florida, and eventually deplete the ozone layer worldwide. However, Rowland and Molina later found a better source of chlorine in the atmosphere. Hence, the purported cause was CFCs and the birth of theory #7. (The Ozone Depletion Theory)

From the Canadian Parliamentary Committee meeting in 1990 about ozone depletion by CFCs, there were several large holes:

1) The first comprehensive worldwide measurements started in 1978, with the Nimbus-7 satellite. It was not known what  was happening with ozone for the eons of prior earth history.

2) The ozone layer is likely self-correcting. With less O3, more UV rays can penetrate deeper into the atmosphere,  encountering a higher O2 concentration, where it forms more O3. A likely reason for little, if any, additional UV radiation getting to the earth´s surface.

3) With purported ozone depletion, thinning (no hole) of the ozone layer occurring throughout the 1980s apparently stopped in the early 1990s, too soon to credit implementation of the Montreal Protocol. A 1998 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report said, “since 1991, the linear (downward) trend observed during the 1980s has not continued, but rather total column ozone has been almost constant “¦” [The Sentinel- The Ozone Layer: The hole truth.]

4)  More importantly, the dreaded increase in ground level UVb failed to materialize. The much-hyped acceleration in skin cancer rates never came to be. National Cancer Institute statistics show that malignant melanoma incidence and mortality, which had been undergoing a long-term increase predating alleged ozone depletion, has actually been leveling off during the ozone crisis.

5) Faced with assumed UVb increases from supposed ozone destruction in the 1990´s, the intent was to control the alleged problem of ozone depletion. Major participants met in groups: 1) Friends of Earth (5 members), DuPont (5 members) [major CFC producer], and 3 climate scientists. The proceedings are described in Ozone And Carbon Dioxide.

6) In the meeting, DuPont said very little. They were already phasing out CFCs, and had a replacement product (HFC-134A) in preparation.

7) A few other assumptions made: a) from the start, it was assumed that UV light was a constant (not true with sunspot cycles); b) Roland and Molina demonstrated CFC´s could destroy ozone in very artificial laboratory conditions, c) there was little evidence of losses of stratospheric ozone other than Antarctica, and ozone levels were found higher than pre-protocol levels in 1989; d) Protocol participants intensely focused on CFC´s almost to exclusion of other possible explanations;  e) bureaucracies were established, laws passed, and punishments determined for anyone caught using CFC´s; f) wind patterns (i.e., Circumpolar Vortex), and Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC) were considered possible explanations for destruction of ozone; and g) CFC atmospheric lifetimes seemed forgotten.

8) Cosmic Rays (CRs) from space, and those emanating from the sun during sunspot activity, seemed possible destroyers of ozone. Dr. Qing-Bin Lu´s latest proof of the CR theory for the ozone depletion was in Physical Review Letters on 3/19/9 [a pdf of the paper].  Dr. Lu, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), said the fallacy was accepted for more than twenty years that Earth’s ozone layer is depleted by chlorine atoms produced by CFCs.

Lu and Sanche´s Study Suggests Cosmic Rays May Destroy Ozone: Scientific American. Results show that CR electrons are about a million times more likely to interact inside the cloud than anyone previously believed. They found evidence for their model in a laboratory simulation of the conditions found in Antarctic clouds. They cooled a metal bar to below -170 °C, and condensed water vapor and CFCs onto its surface. When they then bombarded this “cloud” with low-energy electrons like those produced by CR´s, chlorine was produced. All recent scientific research indicated Cosmic rays linked to ozone hole – SciForums.com.

Both Lu and Sanche analyzed reliable CR and ozone data during 1980-2007, which cover two full “Schwabe” 11-year sunspot cycles. This unambiguously showed the time correlations between CR intensity and ozone depletion, especially over Antarctica [The Ozone Hole UW prof says cyclic ozone hole proves cosmic ray theory]. Qing-Bin Lu stating prior information on CFC ozone depletion emphatically (as indicated by his use of italics):  “These conclusions were based on climate model simulations rather than direct observations.”

9) Stratospheric chemistry is very complex, and scientists were never sure how effective CFC’s would be at destroying O3. Roland and Molina based their chlorine production and ozone destruction on climate model simulations, rather than direct observations. That’s a little different than condensing water vapor and CFCs below 170oC, and producing chlorine with low-energy electrons from cosmic rays, as Dr. Qing-Bin Lu had done.

The entire ozone scare orchestrated EPA’s $32 Trillion Negligible Risk. In 1992, International Refrigeration experts conservatively estimated that the ban on CFCs was going to kill between 20 to 40 million people every year through hunger, starvation, and food-borne diseases. Further, no ecosystem or species was ever shown to be seriously harmed by ozone depletion. This is true even in Antarctica, where the largest seasonal ozone losses, the so-called Antarctic ozone hole, occur annually.

The real nail in the coffin for CFC-12 is its atmospheric lifetime of 80-100 years. CFC 11/12/113 worldwide production maximized in 1985 at 2.1 billion pounds (writer is ex-DuPonter). Knowing CFC-12 was stable enough to last at least 80 years, 2060 is the year when maximum CFCs will have reached the stratosphere.

If UVb radiation had been increased since 1960 CFC initial production, we would have all experienced increased rates of cancer by now, with the worst to come in 2060. The Montreal Protocol´s claim to fame was no increased cancers. But all malignant melanomas leveled off during the ozone crisis. In the meantime, millions of deaths documented by International Refrigeration, $32 trillion was wastefully spent, and an intensely political issue was put to rest.

It´s still true–you can´t prove a negative.

But an Unprecedented Arctic ozone loss last winter  raised scientists’ concerns again in 2010. According to scientists, unusually low temperatures in the Arctic ozone layer have recently initiated massive ozone depletion. This implies if winter Arctic stratospheric temperatures drop just slightly in the future, for example as a result of climate change, then severe Arctic ozone loss may occur more frequently.

It was deduced the authors used a combination of measurements and computer simulations.  The authors caution that the actual impacts on ozone could be somewhat different than estimated if atmospheric changes led to unusually warm or cold polar winters. They also warn that a geo-engineering project (sulfate injection) could lead to even more severe ozone loss if a major volcanic eruption took place at the same time. One of the most discussed ideas (Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen), would be to regularly inject large amounts of sun-blocking sulfate particles into the stratosphere. The goal would be to cool Earth’s surface, much as sulfur particles from major volcanic eruptions in the past have resulted in reduced surface temperatures.

In recent years, this geo-engineering proposal to cool the planet, and reduce global warming was deduced to have a drastic impact on earth’s protective ozone layer [ScienceDaily/ 4/25/2008]. The study, led by Simone Tilmes/ National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), warns that such an approach might delay the recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole by decades and cause significant ozone loss over the Arctic. “Our research indicates that trying to artificially cool off the planet could have perilous side effects,” Tilmes says. “While climate change is a major threat, more research is required before society attempts global geo-engineering solutions.”

The sulfates would also delay the expected recovery of the ozone hole over the Antarctic by about 30 to 70 years, or until at least the last decade of this century, the authors conclude. “This study highlights another connection between global warming and ozone depletion,” says co-author Ross Salawitch of the University of Maryland. “These traditionally had been thought of as separate problems but are now increasingly recognized to be coupled in subtle, yet profoundly important, manners.”

It sounds like someone forgot that anthropogenic global warming doesn’t really exist, that there was not enough UVB radiation for any additional ozone elimination, that the maximum worldwide production of CFCs in 1985 (2.1 billion pounds) with its atmospheric lifetime of 80-100 years will not reach the upper atmosphere until 2060, and no other viable destroyer of ozone (i.e., cosmic rays) has even been considered for ozone variances.

Why is it that respected scientists won´t believe an Intelligent Designer knew that ozone depletion would be suspected in the destruction of ozone, but had built in a compensating step to eliminate that hazard? Can man feel omnipotent enough where he believes he completely controls his destiny? Evidently.

Source: Op/ed By Kevin Roeten (roetenks@charter.net)