The Coastal Post - June, 1996

Europe's Hole In The Ozone Is An Ugly Stepchild

BY JIM SCANLON

For reasons unknown, the large national media have all ignored the first appearance of an Ozone Hole over northern Europe this March.

And, the only significant publication to mention the depletion, New Scientist (May 4, 1996) did not give an indication of any rise in levels of ultra-violet radiation in an enormous area populated by more than 80 million people.

New Scientist published a graphic showing an area of severe ozone depletion stretching from Alaska, across Canada, Scandinavia to Russia as far south as the British isles. The depletion was 20 percent lower than the average from 1979-1986.

The Antarctic Ozone Hole (always big news) has only recently been recognized as passing over the tip of south America, a large area with a population of only about 250,000 people. In 1995 it started earlier, was as big as ever and lasted much longer.

Climatologists believe that unusual cold weather in the Arctic promoted high altitude clouds providing surfaces on which chemical reactions can take place which release reactive chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), thereby turning ozone into oxygen.

No one is sure what causes the unusual cooling; however, the theory of global warming calls for cooling of the stratosphere. This cooling has been observed and verified; however, no one can say with high confidence why it is occurring.

New Scientist does not mention any measurements of increases in short wave length ultra-violet radiation known to cause biological damage to living things. This, despite the large number of scientific observatories in Northern Europe.

Scientists have long claimed that for every percent of stratospheric ozone loss, the level of ultra-violet radiation on the surface goes up by some multiple of between one and two also across Europe and to a lesser extent the U.S.