Untidy Minds #3 : Janet Daley

We’ve had Oxbridge Classics and Language graduates denying Global Warming in the Press in the last couple of weeks; now we’re on to the political commentators.

Why Global Warming Science is a matter for adversarial politics, you know Left and Right, liberal and conservative, I don’t know.

Global Climate Change is affecting us all, and pretty much the same steps will need to be taken by whichever party is in power, in whichever country. It doesn’t really have a political flavour. It’s not a matter of choice, or choice of policy. Climate Change policy is not based on political ideology.

Almost everything that we can think of to throw at it could turn out to be useful : regulation and voluntary targets, both; markets and subsidies, both; trading and aid, both; taxation and quota, both; Carbon reduction and Carbon intensity improvements, both; insulation and Renewables, both; electrification of transport and public transport, both. The list goes on. We might even need a spot of geoengineering, perish the thought, but we might.

Enter stage Right one Janet Daley, who is back in the “Dark Ages of 1980s Denialism and Delayism” in terms of the clear arguments for de-Carbonisation, attacking Science by showing a clear ignorance of it, and a regurgitation of some pernicious myths.

Does she think she is somehow protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of big business profit, or something, by denying the facts of Global Warming ? I don’t know.

The Economy has probably done her, personally, precious little good, especially of late.

Economics doesn’t work, right ? Let’s get that out in the open.

Classical or even Neoliberal Economics is not based on sound socio-financial evidence, is not a science, and the “money incentive spiral”, or “pyramid scheme” of “meritocracy” only works for the wealthiest, who suck the system dry so that it collapses.

The Economic system is a veritable Tragedy of the Commons, writ in inequality and debt.

Anyway, let us get back to the task and analyse Janet Daley’s untidy thought on the matter in hand, Atmospheric Science :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/janetdaley/100018432/newsflash-hole-in-ozone-layer-a-good-thing/

“Newsflash: hole in ozone layer a Good Thing : By Janet Daley, December 1st 2009 : Remember the last great climate change doomsday nightmare – the one we were all obsessed with a few years ago? The Hole in the Ozone Layer was going to permit dangerous amounts of ultra-violet radiation to penetrate the atmosphere of the planet causing a mass epidemic of skin cancer as well as irreversible global warming, blah-blah…”

No, Janet. The Hole in the Ozone was not predicted a few years ago to cause irreversible global warming. The only realm in which strong links were made between the Ozone Hole and Global Warming was…the Media. Journalists can’t do Science, it seems, and they’ve always had problems doing Science.

There are certain chemical and physical interactions between the Globally Warming world and the Ozone situation, but the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had this to say in their influential expert Fourth Assessment Report of 2007 (Working Group 1, Technical Summary) :-

http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_TS.pdf

“The radiative forcing due to the destruction of stratospheric ozone is caused by the Montreal Protocol gases and is re-evaluated to be –0.05 ± 0.10 W m–2, weaker than in the TAR, with a medium level of
scientific understanding…”

This “Radiative Forcing” term is used to indicate how much of a cooling or heating effect something in the Atmosphere has, in this case a slight cooling effect. “TAR” by the way was the previous IPCC major report from 2001, the Third Assessment Report.

So, you see, nobody (apart from the “science-blind” Media) has been worrying about the Ozone Hole causing irreversible Global Warming, even as far back as 2001. So, Janet, you are mistaken.

Janet continues with further folly :-

“Unless you follow these things fairly closely, you may have found yourself wondering what had happened to the Great Hole – why is it never mentioned any longer as a threat to the earth’s future? Because it is repairing itself. Which was not supposed to be possible. But that isn’t all…the Hole is – miraculously – healing itself…”

No, Janet, again, you are incorrect. You can see from the previous quote from the IPCC that something called the Montreal Protocol gases are implicated in the formation of the Ozone Hole. This Montreal Protocol was designed to stop emissions of the chemicals that caused the Ozone Hole.

The Hole in the Ozone Layer is not “miraculously” healing itself. It’s taken a major international treaty, the Montreal Protocol, to address the problem, and it looks like there are signs that the corner has been turned, and that the Ozone Hole will probably now start to repair :-

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7257/full/460781a.html

The projected recovery of the Ozone Hole, and the interaction between Global Warming and the stratospheric ozone layer is a lot more complicated than I will go into just here, but the summary is this : it took intervention to stop the ozone patient getting any sicker, and it’s going to take intervention in the global Fossil Fuels-based Economy to tackle the threat of dangerous Climate Change.

I know Janet is only writing a weblog, not main articles for the Daily Telegraph, but she appears to want to stir up the doubting population, urging them to rise up and fend off reason, logic and science. Her purpose ? I can only guess.

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