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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d88oct17

Saving Our Skins: Technical Potential and Policies for the Elimination of Ozone-Depleting Chlorine Compounds, Arjun Makhijani, Annie Makhijani, A. Bickel, 167 pp., Sep. 1988. Environ. Policy Inst. (EPI) and Inst. for Energy & Environ. Res. Single copies $20 (nonprofit organizations), $45 (other) from EPI, 218 D St. SE, Washington DC 20003 (202-544-2600).

According to the EPI, an organization of researchers, advocates and citizens, this report is the first comprehensive single-volume assembly of technical and economic data on CFCs and chlorine compounds which threaten the ozone layer, including explanations of the formation and depletion of ozone and the potential dangers of increased ultraviolet radiation (UV-B). Part 1 describes the process of ozone depletion, resulting effects on humans, plants and animals, and global warming; Part 2 details the various current uses of CFCs and chlorocarbons (organic chlorinated compounds) and the potential for eliminating their use and emission; Part 3 offers an agenda for action in terms of governmental regulation of corporations, U.S. policy, and international agreements.

The report finds the Montreal Protocol insufficient to adequately protect against severe ozone depletion, largely due to the long lifetime of most halocarbons in the atmosphere. A significant exception is methyl chloroform with a lifetime of nine years; drastically reducing its emission is the only method for actually reducing atmospheric chlorine levels substantially in the next two decades. All important sources of atmospheric chlorine and bromine must be regulated; phase-out of CFC production is possible by the year 1995. Recent history has shown that a "post-mortem" approach to the problem will not do; corporations will respond only to government pressure even when the impacts of their products are known.

Recommendations for an immediate, equitable phase-out of damaging chemicals from the world economy include: phase-out of currently regulated CFCs by 1995 following the schedule recently adopted by Sweden; phase-out of methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride by the year 2000; changes in U.S. Army and Navy regulations which now encourage CFC use; a world-wide ban on most CFC use in aerosols. A tax on damaging chemicals would transfer windfall profits to local, state and federal governments and fund those costs associated with phase-out. Examples are small-business loan guarantees to install CFC recycling and recovery equipment; municipality costs for collecting, recycling and destroying CFCs; assistance to Third World countries. Also recommended are coordinated studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.N. Environmental Program, intensified international research cooperation, and implementation of a comprehensive plan to assist the Third World in phasing out substances and adapting to substitutes. Finally, consistent and firm regulation of corporations is urged, starting with an investigation of why development and testing of alternative chemicals was stopped by so many corporations around 1980.

Item #d88oct18

Atmospheric Ozone 1985--Assessment of Our Understanding of the Processes Controlling its Present Distribution and Change, 648 pp. + append. (3 vols.), 1986. Global Ozone Res. & Monit. Proj. Rep. No. 16, World Meteorol. Org. Available in the U.S. from Earth Sci. & Applic. Div., NASA, Code EE, Washington DC 20546; in Europe from World Meteorol. Org., C.P. 5, CH 1211 Geneva 20, Switz.; in Africa from U.N. Environ. Prog., POB 30552, Nairobi, Kenya.

This assessment builds on previous national and international assessments but is much more comprehensive in scope as well as international participation. It discusses: the physical, chemical and radiative processes which control the spatial and temporal distribution of ozone in the troposphere and stratosphere; the magnitude of natural and industrial sources of substances capable of modifying atmospheric ozone; observations of the composition and structure of the stratosphere; the predicted magnitude of ozone perturbations and climate changes for a variety of emission scenarios; the ozone and temperature data used to detect the presence or absence of a long-term trend, and recommendations for future research. Co-sponsors were three U.S. agencies (NASA, FAA, NOAA), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP), the Commission of European Communities (CEC), and the Bundesministerium für Forschung und Technologie (BMFT) of West Germany. About 150 scientists from 11 countries contributed through a series of workshops and reviews in late 1984 and 1985.

Volume 1 contains a science summary, and chapters on stratospheric chemistry; sources, distributions and trends of tropospheric trace gases; tropospheric chemistry; stratosphere-troposphere exchange; dynamical and radiative processes. Volume 2 covers observations and interpretation of species of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and halogenated compounds. Volume 3 discusses assessment models, model predictions of ozone changes, the relation between ozone and temperature trends, and the effects of CO2 and other trace gases on climate. Appendices describe kinetics, photochemical, and spectroscopic databases, instrument intercomparisons, monthly mean ozone and temperature distributions, and other reference information. While some of the conclusions reached may have been superceded by the Ozone Trends Panel report (see Global Climate Change Digest, NEWS, July 1988), most of the extensive background and recommendations are valid and the report is a useful reference.

Item #d88oct19

Our Common Future: The Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 397 pp., 1987. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK; £5.95.

The commission was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1983 to prepare a strategy for achieving sustainable development by the year 2000, to propose ways of improving international cooperation and national action on environmental concerns, and to establish for the world community a common set of environmental goals. It was chaired by the Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and drew on a world-wide network of individuals, panels, research institutes and agencies. The report calls for urgent changes in social values, attitudes and goals which will be often difficult and painful for institutions. Development to benefit the world's poor while protecting the environment requires new approaches by governments and international agencies, policies to bring population into balance with the supporting environment, and food security. Six priority areas are set out for institutional and legal change.

The report is reviewed by M.W. Holdgate on page 282 of Environmental Conservation, 14(3), Autumn 1987.

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