Thursday, May 28, 2015

Anthony Watts and his ozone hole deniers are out in force (again)

Sou | 2:29 AM Go to the first of 16 comments. Add a comment
In yet another "claim" headline, Anthony Watts shows yet again how he denies science. Not just climate science but atmospheric chemistry as well. This, mind you, is the same week as he sent his fans to spam Wikipedia denying his denial of science.

This time his headline is about a press release that he copied and pasted, about the ozone layer (archived here). Anthony's denial only comes via his headline: Claim: ‘Severe ozone depletion avoided'. It's not the first time he's denied that ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) react with ozone in the stratosphere, destroying it (see further reading below).

The paper, by Professor Martyn Chipperfield and colleagues, is in Nature Communications. The authors discuss how the ozone hole would have been much worse had the world not agreed (through the Montreal Protocol) to stop releasing ozone-depleting substances. The researchers developed a model to investigate what would have happened if action had not been taken. They describe this as (from the abstract, my dot points and emphasis):
  • A deep Arctic ozone hole, with column values <120 DU, would have occurred given meteorological conditions in 2011.
  • The Antarctic ozone hole would have grown in size by 40% by 2013, with enhanced loss at subpolar latitudes.
  • The decline over northern hemisphere middle latitudes would have continued, more than doubling to ~15% by 2013.

As you probably know, the ozone hole over Antarctica is not expected to shrink much before the 2050s or so. That's because of the longevity of CFCs etc. They don't break down quickly. Below is a video of the "hole" over Antarctica, from NASA Earth Observatory.

This new paper complements work that was reported late last year, following an assessment by 282 scientists from 36 countries, as reported on NASA's Earth Observatory website. You can get a copy of that report here.

There are links in the references below, which themselves have many more references, and some cursory discussion of the science.

From the WUWT comments

WUWT deniers don't restrict themselves to denying climate science. They also deny atmospheric chemistry. I'd say it's because the thinning of the ozone layer is caused by humans.  The fact that it also affects climate would be secondary to that.

In my observation, deniers are by inclination people who cannot own up to their responsibilities. Guilt as an emotion overloads their brains so they turn to denial.  Some don't feel any guilt - they are the sociopaths of the world.

Most people don't feel guilt about the past or if they do they don't dwell on it. There's no point. Our efforts are better spent on the present and creating the future. Deniers, by contrast, want to be free to destroy whatever gets in the way of their personal comfort. Some have even codified their denial in a cult - rationalising that their god will clean up after them. Primitive? Yep. Here are some of the comments from WUWT.

This first comment is one you'll see from deniers if we ever manage to stop emitting greenhouse gases. The ones who get it back to front, that is, just like Mike Jonas, who wrote:
May 26, 2015 at 6:18 pm
Basically the paper is saying that since the Montreal Protocol there has been no reduction in ozone levels, but the protocol still worked because without the protocol the ozone levels would have been higher. Funny that at the time they said the protocol would in due course remove the ozone hole. It seems that the thing over the Antarctic isn’t an ozone hole, it’s a credibility hole.

Once again, Tony Brown writes a similar comment to that he wrote in September 2009 and March 2009 and his March 2014 - but he softened it a little, allowing for the first time (for him) that the ozone hole is a recent phenomenon. Today climatereason (Tony Brown) wrote:
May 27, 2015 at 1:04 am
But how do we know if the ozone hole hasn’t always existed its just that prior to the 1950’s we didn’t have the equipment to measure it?
That was the question I asked Cambridge University and the Max Planck institute a few years ago. They cant be certain but think it unlikely due to modelling results

It's just as likely (or more likely) that the scientists know it didn't exist before because of chemistry and atmospheric physics. As I wrote last time Tony made that comment:
First of all, back in the 1950s there wasn't an ozone "hole" over Antarctica of the type there is today. It was first reported in the 1980s (eg Farman et al 1985). Secondly, the chemistry is now quite well understood as discussed by Molina and Rowland (1974),Solomon et al (1986), Drew Shindell and co (1998) - who elaborate on the importance of temperature - and others. For a simple explanation, the EPA account is not bad. Wikipedia has a longer description and isn't too technical.

cirby gets his or her wires crossed and didn't understand the press release. What was "told" was that it would be unlikely to measure a shrinkage of the hole over Antarctica before around 2050. And no, "they" were not wrong about the science. And this paper is some of the evidence of that.
May 26, 2015 at 4:49 pm
That’s odd.
When the Montreal Protocol was enacted, we were told it would take until at LEAST 2050 for ozone depletion to stop, because of the long lifespan of CFCs in the upper atmosphere. Reversal of the loss? Even further down the road.
Which means they were wrong about the science. Again.

Rather a lot of commenters would rather the paper was based on observations of more thinning, and that we didn't stop releasing ozone-destroying substances. It's a bit like a home owner wanting his house to burn down before he could be convinced that he should install smoke alarms. For example, dp wrote:
May 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm
That they find themselves informed by a model is worrying. All they have is a speculative best guess as to what would have happened. The worst kind of ignorance is knowledge that is based on self-deception. This should be another story tagged with “creepy and a little scary”.

Engineer Ron, like many at WUWT, has no understanding of science. He doesn't know that ozone-depleting substances are very stable, and hang about for decades.
May 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm
It seems suspicious that the hole isn’t getting smaller. It’s just not getting larger as predicted by MODELS. Maybe the Montreal Protocol has done nothing and the hole that’s there has been there since forever. Maybe CFC’s had nothing to do with the hole in the first place.

George NaytowhowCon doesn't "believe" chemistry and physics, and thinks that gas molecules don't bounce about - up and down, and find their way up into the stratosphere.
May 26, 2015 at 5:19 pm
CFC’s can not get up to the ozone layer, too heavy

For a change, someone at WUWT corrects George. D.J. Hawkins wrote:
May 26, 2015 at 6:27 pm
Oy! You make my head hurt! Vapor bulk density has nothing to do with whether or not you’ll find traces of CFC’s in the stratosphere, troposphere, or wherever. By your reasoning, O2 should have settled out of the atmosphere long ago, since it’s 14% denser than N2. When gases and vapors are unconstrained physically, where they wind up is all about diffusion. If you didn’t have natural processes such as weather and the bio cycle mixing things up and allowing inhomogenities for atmospheric components such as methane, CO2, etc to exist, you’d wind up with a perfectly uniform gaseous mixture all over the planet, all other things being equal.

dmh probably doesn't think that having cleaner air has anything to do with clean air regulations, either. Or that the reduced road toll has anything to do with speed limits and better roads.
May 26, 2015 at 6:07 pm
Well this is a new spin on the “its worse than we thought” meme.
Instead of a prediction so far out in the future that proving or disproving it is impractical in our lifetimes, they’ve now come up with a prediction of something that might have happened in the past but is impractical to prove or disprove as we can’t rerun history. Genius.

And to think the rest of society has to lug these people around. (Is that too harsh?) I wonder how many of them have ever added anything of value to the world?

References and further reading

M. P. Chipperfield, S. S. Dhomse, W. Feng, R. L. McKenzie, G.J.M. Velders, J. A. Pyle. "Quantifying the ozone and ultraviolet benefits already achieved by the Montreal Protocol". Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 7233 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8233 (open access)

Severe ozone depletion avoided - press release at ScienceDaily.com

WMO (World Meteorological Organization), Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2014, World Meteorological Organization, Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project-Report No. 55, 416 pp., Geneva, Switzerland, 2014. (link)

Johannes C. Laube et al, Newly detected ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere. Nature Geoscience (2014) doi:10.1038/ngeo2109


  1. Climate change deniers dislike the ozone hole because its history contradicts their 'planet that can take anything polluters throw at it' paradigm. As usual, when one of their paradigms comes into conflict with reality, its reality that gets discarded.

  2. A bit off topic, but it looks like Phillip Lloyd has surfaced again. Seems he just published a paper at Multi-Science: "An Estimate of the Centennial Variability of Global Temperatures". Claims that standard deviation of temperatures over the past 8000 years is 0.98+/-0.27 degrees C and because of this most of the warming we've seen is due to natural variations. The Deniosphere seems to be going bat crazy over this. Since it resides behind a pay-wall and I don't really want to pay for garbage, I was just curious if anyone had any information on it.

    1. I just skimmed it and what really stood out is that all of his datasets have a temporal resolution of ~100 years. You can read all about Nyquist frequency and sampling theory elsewhere but to me it seems he's taken a dataset and heavily aliased it to achieve this result. A more important question is why didn't Lloyd examine Dendrochronological records instead?

    2. The usual specious statistical boondoggle unconcerned with mundane matters such as cause and effect. Lots of sciencey words and phrases. In E & E and why not. There's a reasonable dissection of it at http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=10673291#post10673291

    3. Yes I saw that touted at WUWT, but wasn't prepared to give any money to E&E or waste time reading it. Philip's not a climate scientist, he's a retired petrochemical engineer who's taken up climate science denial for a hobby I'd say. Philip did some maths on a bunch of ice cores from the look of things. Maybe he's another denier Don who thinks that the Greenland ice sheet with its massive variability is a proxy for the average surface temperature on Earth. Which is nuts.

      The fact he could only get it published in E&E (which favours denier nonsense) says about all you need to know.


    4. And a big bingo there Sou. He did indeed use the Greenland cores...

    5. Thanks everyone.
      Didn't realize Multi-Science was E & E.
      Greenland ice cores…sheesh

    6. A standard deviation of 1°C sounds like a local time series. The global average has much less variability. Would fit, showing local data and pretending it is global is one of their standard techniques.

  3. That's the core of it. They think evidence is only evidence when it's evidence of stuff they approve of, or when it reinforces whatever daft worldview they have. Any evidence of something they disapprove of, or that contradicts their worldview, is not really evidence and can be discarded on a whim.

    For example, I've seen climate science deniers who also deny evolution. When asked why, they'll say that they looked at the evolutionary view but "didn't like it". In their minds, this is grounds for ignoring all evidence for evolution.

    I've also seen hard core southern US deniers who make a religion out of "freedom" but seriously think the Confederacy should have won the US Civil War. They see absolutely no contradiction between worshipping "freedom", and total support for a regime based on slavery (of other people).

    They're bonkers.

    1. ^ That was meant to be a reply to Millicent.

    2. The Texans have momentarily halted their Succession planning and asked the Yankee Carpetbaggers to send moarrrr disaster relief funds.
      How can Red States keep complaining with a straight face about big Federal Government spending when everyone of them get considerably more money back than they pay in and they always want to get the country into $trillion$ of war$?
      Texans narrowly avoided economic free fall when the oil prices partially recovered. So much for the highly touted conservative business policies, it was the previously high oil price that caused the Boom.

  4. I think the denier position is very wise.

    They deny that there is an ozone hole, or that the ozone hole was caused by CFCs emitted by old fridges on the scrap heap.
    By doing so, they make it way more say to deny that wise environmental policies based on sound science avoided a greater catastrophe.

    By the same non-reasoning, it is pointless to do anything about CO2, just as it was pointless to phase out CFCs.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Given how many pillars of AGW denial were also engaged in CFC denial they can hardly concede the point now without losing ... oh dear, I nearly said 'credibility' there :)

  7. Aside from the word "Claim", he is paraphrasing a line from the abstract which reads, "...we demonstrate that much larger ozone depletion than observed has been avoided by the protocol...". I believe the reason for "Claim" is his issue with the results being retrieved via a model. Most people at WUWT don't like models.


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