J Henry Phillips 

Austin, Texas--Curitiba Paraná
© August, 2008 by J Henry Phillips
Is the hole Natural or caused by the evils of freedom? Before global warming was elevated to its current status as Most Fashionable Apocalypse, religious fervor was every bit as intense in support of a different The-End-is-Near hypothesis. The Ozone Hole rallied about it a host of true believers absolutely convinced--by constant repetition in lieu of evidence--that chlorofluorocarbons, affectionately nicknamed CFCs, spelled the imminent doom of mankind. In a nutshell, measurements indicated less than the expected quantity of atmospheric ozone over the South Pole, not far from where Mount Erebus constantly erupts chlorine and other gases high into the atmosphere. Political ex-scientists quickly rounded up capitalist greed among the usual suspected causes, and pressured politicians--including Ronald Reagan--to ban the safest refrigerator gas in the history of chemical engineering. Was this a correctly drawn conclusion? Did it follow from true premises by proper methods of inference? Did any of that even matter?
Remember The Bomb fallout? By ignoring inconvenient facts while constantly dinning doom over the airwaves, a case strong enough to justify the sacrifice of freedom on the altars of coercive collectivism was made with relative ease. Concentrating all attention on the hypothetical exposure of penguins to sunburn, lobbyists skillfully steered attention away from several icebergs in the path of their argument. The first of these navigation hazards is wearily familiar to anyone familiar with data from early hydrogen bomb tests. Strontium 90 and carbon 14 in nuclear fallout stirred intense interest in the way things are transported in the atmosphere. Strontium 90 is chemically able to lodge itself in bones, much like calcium, and carbon 14, is able to lodge interchangeably with ordinary carbon in DNA. It was feared--for good reason--that the recoil from emitting a beta particle might dislodge carbon atoms in the constituent nuclei of amino acids and disrupt genetic material within the double helix. Congressmen became anxious to know whether the fallout was headed toward Washington, and two British scientists, A.W. Brewer and G.M.B. Dobson developed a picture of atmospheric circulation known as the Brewer-Dobson effect. If you have never heard of this effect, it is not for lack of relevance or importance, but rather, because the fact is inconvenient.
Fallout stays in its own hemisphere Picture a wet basketball spinning very rapidly on the fingertips of one of the Harlem Globetrotters. You’d expect the water to come spinning off the equatorial region of the ball, and so it does. The Earth's atmosphere behaves in a roughly analogous fashion in that the air lower down, in the troposphere, is flung higher into the atmosphere as the Earth’s spin draws it toward the equator. There it collides almost head-on with the air mass from the other hemisphere. The Earth turns more slowly than a basketball and has considerable gravitational pull, so that the air in the stratosphere--instead of flying into space--flows back in elliptical paths toward the poles before reentering the troposphere and again being drawn toward the equator. A diagram of the pattern suggests that North is north and south is South and never the twain shall mix. Sure enough, measurements taken in the spring of 1958 showed that four to eight times as much fallout rained down on the hemisphere in which the hydrogen bombs were exploded. [FALLOUT -- A Study of Super Bombs, Strontium 90 and Survival, John M. Fowler, Ed., basic books, New York, 1960 pp. 30, 34]
So Bomb tests were moved south of the equator British politicians were the first to listen to Brewer and Dobson, and even before 1958 had already decided to move the testing of hydrogen bombs into someone else's hemisphere. By the fall of 1958, however, the news had leaked out, and people in the southern hemisphere did not want nuclear fallout in their back yard. So bomb testing was driven underground. The fact remained, however, that things as tiny as atoms hurled en masse into the atmosphere with all the force of a hydrogen bomb explosion tended overwhelmingly to stay in the same hemisphere in which they were generated. This brings us to the second iceberg in the path of that Titanic effort to politicize science for purposes of peddling political pull.
Q: What is the population of the Southern Hemisphere? Put differently, what portion of the world's population lives south of the equator? The question is by no means trivial, yet the answer is inconveniently hard to come by. Nevertheless, anyone with a computer spreadsheet and some almanacs can verify that for every two people reaching into a refrigerator to grab a cold beer or some water in Australia or South Africa, there are at least 18 such people in the northern hemisphere. The ratio of the Southern Hemisphere's population to the northern hemisphere's population is the same as the ratio of the tip of the iceberg to the bulk that lies submerged, 1/9th or 11%, as in the freshman physics problem in which the student is required to calculate buoyancy based on densities. The refrigerator analogy, however, doesn't quite hold up for Africa and South America, where many people wish to God or Allah they had a refrigerator to reach into and grab a cold one--and air conditioning is an exotic fantasy. Instead, they are left backward and jobless by governments that foster high taxes and unemployment instead of the freedom to trade and produce. It would be very interesting to calculate how much actual Freon was used in the southern hemisphere in those palmy days before eco-Prohibition. Whatever the answer, it is a safe bet that the hemisphere which holds only 1/9 of humanity, and a poorer ninth at that, is only going to have at the very most 1/9 as much Freon available to go in to the atmosphere. The last thing in the world an ozone hole in the Southern hemisphere can be blamed on is human activity--at least until a hole nine times as large is found sitting atop the Northern hemisphere, where teevee dinners and telescreen brainwashing were invented.
The CFC-ozone theory does not fit the facts If human activity caused an ozone hole over Antarctica, there would have to be another hole nine or perhaps fifty times as large over the North Pole. Do doomcriers among atmospheric ex-scientists not know about the Brewer-Dobson effect? By a process of arm waving, the effect of the discrepancy was minimized without ever mentioning the Brewer-Dobson effect by name. The Northern Hemisphere, claimed these former scientists, was too windy to properly entertain an ozone hole. With a perfectly straight face, that pathetic argument was slipped past the editorial board of Physics Today. Small wonder the average layman is unaware of the discrepancy.
Pseudoscience leads to prohibition, and prohibition to death and poverty Ex-scientists of the looter persuasion have adopted a divide-and-conquer approach whereby--in the interest of political control, using environmental purity as a pretext--only a single aspect is considered, completely out of context, at any given time. The result of banning CFCs has been to increase poverty and death by food poisoning and spoilage of vaccines in Africa and South America, plus a higher cost of living in Australia and New Zealand. Yet now that the restrictions are backed by the force of law, the matter is closed, much as the issue of alcohol prohibition was “put behind us” in America on the night of January 16, 1920, with the passage of the Volstead Act... or was it? --JHP
Brazilian Translated Home  ¦  Portuguese Interpreter Home ¦ Tradutor Americano Home