Monday, November 23, 2009

I couldn't make that up if I tried!

On, an article heading:

"Why is global warming damaging the ozone layer?"

Excepting that some anthropogenic greenhouse gases (think Freon...) are also ozone depleting, the two matters are unrelated. There's certainly no simple causal link between AGW and ozone depletion. It is possible, as a pure hypothetical I haven't spotted in the literature, that the climate change associated with AGW will affect stratospheric air currents (at the poles or elsewhere) in such a way as to enhance or diminish ozone depletion, but that sort of thinking is probably not what is at work here.

Over a decade ago, while still in high school, I wrote in to the editors of a several-book introduction to economics recommending that they remove a phrase "and greenhouse gases are still depleting the ozone layer" from a discussion of externalities. I didn't understand how anyone could confuse these two very different problems--the mistake is inconceivable, not one of those for which one can follow the thought process that led to the wrong conclusion.

Strangely enough, attracted three writers to this heading. One treats us to the denialist Gish Gallop, one notes that some greenhouse gases break down into free radicals in the upper atmosphere, and one merely states both problems. To their credit, neither made the connection. But someone on the staff did. I'd like to put myself in his shoes mentally, but I find it impossible. That has depressing implications.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An ocean acidification reference

The seemingly thorough lack of concern of Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner for ocean acidification in the geoengineering chapter of their recent Superfreakonomics has brought this once-obscure environmental problem to the mainstream consciousness.

Of course,this means that denialist hoke is starting. ("They can't call it 'acidification' if the ocean is not turning to ACID. It's ALARMISM! RELIGION!!!!!1111!!ONE")

Those who want to bring themselves up-to-speed on the science of global warming and the associated climate changes have things easy: the IPCC Working Group 1 summarized the literature up to 2007. The IPCC doesn't cover ocean acidification at all, as it isn't climate change. The Royal Society, however, has written a very fair review, accessible to the lay reader.