skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Stratospheric chlorine: Blaming it on nature

Abstract

Much of the bitter public debate over ozone depletion has centered on the claim that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) pale into insignificance alongside natural sources of chlorine in the stratosphere. If so, goes the argument, chlorine could not be depleting ozone as atmospheric scientists claim, because the natural sources have been around since time immemorial, and the ozone layer is still there. The claim, put forward in a book by Rogelio Maduro and Ralf Schauerhammer, has since been touted by former Atomic Energy Commissioner Dixy Lee Ray and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, and it forms the basis of much of the backlash now being felt by atmospheric scientists. The argument is simple: Maduro and Schauerhammer calculate that 600 million tons of chlorine enters the atmosphere annually from seawater, 36 million tons from volcanoes, 8.4 million tons from biomass burning, and 5 million tons from ocean biota. In contrast, CFCs account for a mere 750,000 tons of atmospheric chlorine a year. Besides disputing the numbers, scientists have both theoretical and observational bases for doubting that much of this chlorine is getting into the stratosphere, where it could affect the ozone layer. Linwood Callis of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Langley Researchmore » Center points out one crucial problem with the argument: Chlorine from natural sources is soluble, and so it gets rained out of the lower atmosphere. CFCs, in contrast, are insoluble and inert and thus make it to the stratosphere to release their chlorine. What's more, observations of stratospheric chemistry don't support the idea that natural sources are contributing much to the chlorine there.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
6480014
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Science (Washington, D.C.); (United States)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 260:5114; Journal ID: ISSN 0036-8075
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CHLOROFLUOROCARBONS; CHEMICAL REACTIONS; OZONE LAYER; ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY; ANTARCTIC REGIONS; BIOMASS; POLITICAL ASPECTS; PUBLIC OPINION; SEAS; SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS; VOLCANISM; CHEMISTRY; CRYOSPHERE; ENERGY SOURCES; INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS; LAYERS; ORGANIC CHLORINE COMPOUNDS; ORGANIC COMPOUNDS; ORGANIC FLUORINE COMPOUNDS; ORGANIC HALOGEN COMPOUNDS; POLAR REGIONS; RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES; SURFACE WATERS; 290200* - Energy Planning & Policy- Economics & Sociology; 290300 - Energy Planning & Policy- Environment, Health, & Safety; 540120 - Environment, Atmospheric- Chemicals Monitoring & Transport- (1990-)

Citation Formats

Taube, G. Stratospheric chlorine: Blaming it on nature. United States: N. p., 1993. Web. doi:10.1126/science.260.5114.1582.
Taube, G. Stratospheric chlorine: Blaming it on nature. United States. doi:10.1126/science.260.5114.1582.
Taube, G. Fri . "Stratospheric chlorine: Blaming it on nature". United States. doi:10.1126/science.260.5114.1582.
@article{osti_6480014,
title = {Stratospheric chlorine: Blaming it on nature},
author = {Taube, G.},
abstractNote = {Much of the bitter public debate over ozone depletion has centered on the claim that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) pale into insignificance alongside natural sources of chlorine in the stratosphere. If so, goes the argument, chlorine could not be depleting ozone as atmospheric scientists claim, because the natural sources have been around since time immemorial, and the ozone layer is still there. The claim, put forward in a book by Rogelio Maduro and Ralf Schauerhammer, has since been touted by former Atomic Energy Commissioner Dixy Lee Ray and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, and it forms the basis of much of the backlash now being felt by atmospheric scientists. The argument is simple: Maduro and Schauerhammer calculate that 600 million tons of chlorine enters the atmosphere annually from seawater, 36 million tons from volcanoes, 8.4 million tons from biomass burning, and 5 million tons from ocean biota. In contrast, CFCs account for a mere 750,000 tons of atmospheric chlorine a year. Besides disputing the numbers, scientists have both theoretical and observational bases for doubting that much of this chlorine is getting into the stratosphere, where it could affect the ozone layer. Linwood Callis of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Langley Research Center points out one crucial problem with the argument: Chlorine from natural sources is soluble, and so it gets rained out of the lower atmosphere. CFCs, in contrast, are insoluble and inert and thus make it to the stratosphere to release their chlorine. What's more, observations of stratospheric chemistry don't support the idea that natural sources are contributing much to the chlorine there.},
doi = {10.1126/science.260.5114.1582},
journal = {Science (Washington, D.C.); (United States)},
issn = {0036-8075},
number = ,
volume = 260:5114,
place = {United States},
year = {1993},
month = {6}
}