An Ounce of Optimism

March 25, 2020

In the face of bad-to-worse news, today some cheer on the environmental front, and a fleeting indication mankind could have a chance to survive, if only we just get-along, and cooperate.

(Illustration: ‘Example of a typical jet stream chart across the earth,’  found here).

Climate change (now a ‘crisis‘) is the result of how our earth has mutated the last couple-hundred years because of CO2 emissions from human shit. In the 1970s, scientific evidence showed the ozone layer, actually a protective shield from harmful UV light radiating from the sun, was being depleted and the cause was heavy worldwide use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used as aerosol propellants.
In 1985, an ozone hole was discovered in the atmosphere high above the north pole, which apparently influenced how jet streams operate, and the situation seemed to be worsening, altering the streams toward the south pole.

In a gesture of togetherness in this, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (generally referred to as the Montreal Protocol) was signed Sept. 15, 1987, and regulated/banned nearly 100 man-made chemicals referred to as ozone depleting substances (ODS), and it worked.
Over time, the jet streams started returning to their natural courses and the hole above the above Antarctica is continuing to recover.

A report at the Guardian this morning was both environmental science, and an acknowledgement on humanity’s ability to actually get a handle on climate change — some snips:

International cooperation on ozone-depleting chemicals is helping to return the southern jet stream to a normal state after decades of human-caused disruption, a study shows.
Scientists say the findings prove there is the capacity to heal damaged climate systems if governments act promptly and in coordination to deal with the causes.

The new paper, published in the journal Nature, shows that the Montreal protocol has paused the southward movement of the jet stream since the turn of the century and may even be starting to reverse it as the ozone hole begins to close.
Last September, satellite images revealed the ozone hole annual peak had shrunk to 16.4m sq km, the smallest extent since 1982.

“It’s a success story. This is more evidence that the Montreal protocol has led to the recovery of the ozone layer,” said the study’s lead author, Antara Banerjee, who works in the chemical sciences division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is a visiting fellow at the University of Boulder, Colorado.

Alexey Karpechko, a reviewer of the paper who works for the Finnish Meteorological Institute, said the paper illustrated how ozone depletion had been the main driver in atmospheric circulation.

“This is good news, definitely. It shows our actions can stop climate change,” he said.
“We can see coordinated action works. It is a strong message to us as emitters of greenhouse gases. This shows we can manipulate the climate both ways: in a wrong way and by reversing the damage we have done.”

And to heap enthusiasm (New Scientist this afternoon):

In terms of ozone layer recovery, “we’ve turned the corner”, says Martyn Chipperfield at the University of Leeds in the UK, who wasn’t involved in the study.
He says we had already seen signs that the ozone layer is recovering and that this study represents the next step, which is seeing the effect of that recovery on the climate.
Chipperfield says it is important to know which aspects of climate change have been caused by carbon dioxide emissions, which are continuing to rise, versus ozone depletion, which is now stopping and reversing.

Climate change will also have an effect on the ozone layer.
“A thinning of the ozone layer over the tropics is predicted,” says Chipperfield.
“We still have to tackle climate change.”

Of course, in this ‘success story’ we have to keep in at least the back of our minds on our current scenario of ugly, a hateful asshole who’s anti-everything good and decent — reflected by the facts, of lack thereof:

So, the chances of a Montreal Protocol-like climate change situation happening with the T-Rump and Republicans is naught to zero…

(Illustration found here).

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