Canadian Government Claims Credit for Fixing a Non-Existent Problem

Commentary, Environment, Frontier Centre

Those who thought that Environment Minister Peter Kent’s support of the global warming scare is a unique example of him being bamboozled by his advisors was in for a rude awakening two week ago. In “Canada Celebrates 25 years of Success with Montreal Protocol”, Kent’s September 14th “Statement”, he demonstrates how he has been seriously misled on the ozone depletion issue as well.

In his Statement, the minister supports a scientific falsehood that triggered unnecessary, and exorbitantly expensive, regulations. The Protocol only appeared to work because there were no “holes” in the ozone layer. There was only a normal region of thinning that amounted to approximately 1/3 of the global average.

In fact, the ozone layer expands, contracts and moves, all the time. I explained this in my testimony before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in 1990, but it was too late—the political process was underway.

The ozone deletion hypothesis driving the Montreal Protocol supported the false notion that variations in ozone are unnatural and caused by human produced chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). The process by which this conclusion was reached contradicted the scientific method because it pretended to prove, rather than disprove, the hypothesis.

Unsubstantiated assumptions were bolstered by ignoring all contradictory evidence and so, as a test run for the equally false claim that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous climate change, yet another unjustified environmental scare was born. Last week’s announcement about the Montreal Protocol is undoubtedly designed to support Environment Canada’s push to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in December, with another equally onerous and scientifically unjustified climate agreement. Many of the Environment Canada personnel who were promoting the Montreal Protocol are now involved with the Kyoto Protocol.

To appreciate the hoax that has been perpetrated in the ozone depletion case, we need to know a bit of the science. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun strikes free oxygen molecules (O2) in Earth’s upper atmosphere to create ozone (O3). It happens by O2 molecules splitting into single oxygen atoms (O), which then combine to create ozone. It occurs at an altitude of between 15 and 55 km with maximum concentration between 15 and 30 km. Ozone concentration densities vary horizontally and vertically, changing constantly due to the dynamics of the atmosphere. It is important to understand that the Ozone Layer is self-healing. As UV radiation penetrates further into the atmosphere it encounters more free oxygen and so creates yet more ozone.

The misdirection of science started in 1974 with the hypothesis promoted by Frank Sherwood Rowland, Chemistry Professor at the University of California at Irvine, and his postdoctoral associate Mario J. Molina, that CFCs destroyed ozone. It was Rowland’s idea, but Molina’s work.

Molina explains:

“Sherry [nickname for Rowland] offered me a list of research options: the one project that intrigued me the most consisted of finding out the environmental fate of certain very inert industrial chemicals – the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – which had been accumulating in the atmosphere, and which at that time were thought to have no significant effects on the environment. This project offered me the opportunity to learn a new field atmospheric chemistry-about which I knew very little (my emphasis).

“Three months after I arrived at Irvine, Sherry and I developed the "CFC-ozone depletion theory." At first the research did not seem to be particularly interesting – I carried out a systematic search for processes that might destroy the CFCs in the lower atmosphere, but nothing appeared to affect them. We knew, however, that they would eventually drift to sufficiently high altitudes to be destroyed by solar radiation.”

Because CFCs are four times denser than air, they don’t “drift” to high altitudes. So, how would they get up to 15 km? The answer is they didn’t. The search for processes was not empirical. Kevin Roeten explained in his October 13, 2011 article “CFC’s the Real Reason for Ozone Loss?” “Rowland and Molina based their chlorine production and ozone destruction on climate model simulations, rather than direct observations.”

Environmental hysteria then took over, fuelled by well-funded enthusiasts at Environment Canada . The imperative was to ban CFCs, not to test the theory. Like the global warming hypothesis, the consensus was pre-determined and conflicting evidence ignored.

Central to the CFC hypothesis was the false assumption that UV levels are constant, making ozone variation due to something other than natural change. Environmentalism demanded a human cause and Molina and Rowland conveniently provided CFCs. We now know that UV varies considerably and ozone also varies with changes in cosmic radiation. Roeten elaborates:

“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.  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.”

Of course, the benefits of UV light were ignored, even though it produces vitamin D in the body, and is essential to prevent rickets as well as scrofula –a form of tuberculosis. Children were kept out of the sun, physically or by chemical blockers due to yet another scare, and reports from England concluded that doctors are consequently finding increasing levels of rickets. Sun blockers are a huge industry that profited from emphasizing the dangers of UV radiation.

It is commonly asserted that CFCs stay in the atmosphere for 100 years. Yet, media, and now Peter Kent and other politicians, boost the Montreal Protocol as a triumph. A 1998 editorial in the Washington News Tribune even asserted that “Ozone recovery offers a success to build on” because of the Protocol.  It couldn’t have been. The ozone layer “recovered” because there was no problem in the first place.

Minister Kent must understand that the touted success of the Montreal Protocol is based on false science; namely, that human-produced CFCs caused depletion of ozone. He is unwittingly supporting a hoax that has led to the waste of billions of dollars and caused needless suffering of children due to the public’s understandable reaction to fears Environment Canada created. Rather than than claiming credit for “solving” a non-existant problem, Kent must properly re-examine this issue, just as he must re-examine the climate issue. Then, when he discovers what has really been going on, hold his staff accountable.