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The next steps in the U.S. space program were to be the design and construction of an Earth-orbiting space station, and a reusable transportation system to and from orbit. These would be the stepping-stones to a manned mission to Mars, tens of millions of miles from Earth. Technological breakthroughs resulting from the space program had also produced new materials, engine technology, computers, and electronics, which opened up the possibility of developing prototype commercial aircraft able to fly faster than the speed of sound, and, one day, to take off from an airport and fly into outer space.
The supersonic transport envisioned for the next decade would fly as high as the stratosphere at speeds two or three times the speed of sound. Three nations were in the race to engineer and build revolutionary supersonic aircraft: the U.S.S.R., with the Tupolev 144; France, with the Concorde; and the United States, with the Boeing 2707, known as the SST.
Slated for development immediately following the SST, and also under study during the mid-1960s, was a hypersonic plane, which would fly at speeds up to Mach 25. The Air Force Dynasoar (Dynamic Soaring) aircraft, also on the drawing board, would be able to take off from a U.S. airport and land in Tokyo two hours later. It would also be able to fly fast enough to obtain orbital velocity and rendezvous with Earth-orbiting space stations.
Even before the Apollo lunar module set down on the surface of the Moon in 1969, however, an intense fight over the future of the space program and related advanced technologies was taking place on Earth. Virtually as soon as President Kennedy announced the Apollo effort in May 1961, antitechnology think tanks, like London's Tavistock Institute and the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, were worrying aloud that the space program would ruin their plans for a neo-Malthusian world. By the mid-1960s, Tavistock's Journal Human Relations reported that the space program was producing an extraordinary number of ``redundant'' and ``supernumerary'' scientists and engineers. ``There would soon be two scientists for every man, woman, and dog in the society,'' one commentator wrote. What worried them most was the climate of technological optimism that had been created.
The space program took a political and financial back seat to the escalating war in Vietnam. Soon, America's premier technological effort was under combined attack from the ``budget crisis,'' which led to drastic cutbacks in government-supported research and development, and from a growing environmentalist movement, bent on destroying high-technology agriculture and industry in America. Development of the commercial SST, the Air Force Dynasoar, the NASA space station, the Space Shuttle, and the Mars mission were crippled by this new Luddite movement.
The fabricated argument that a depletion of the ozone layer would result in a shower of ``cancer-causing'' ultraviolet rays onto the Earth became one of the most powerful weapons in the antitechnology arsenal. This weapon was wielded without mercy against America's economy through the 1970s and 1980s, in a series of battles that has become known as ``The Ozone Wars.'' The casualties of these wars include the SST project, the Dynasoar, and CFCs, some of the most benign and useful chemicals ever created by man, now banned from use.
The Ozone Wars included mass media propaganda campaigns to convince the public and America's law-makers of the following unproven theories:
If several--and in some cases only one--of these claims were true, the atmosphere's ozone layer would have been destroyed several times over by today. Yet, as we shall see in the chapters to come, there is no scientific evidence of any ozone depletion.
Already in circulation were four arguments against the SST project: that the sonic boom from the aircraft would break windows and the eardrums of men and animals; that aircraft noise near the airports would be unbearable; that the SST engine exhaust would pollute the lower atmosphere; and, finally, that climatic changes caused by chemicals in SST exhaust would bring about a new Ice Age. Despite a relentless media campaign pushing these scare stories, Congress had remained committed to building two prototypes of the SST.
Taking the podium to deliver his testimony, McDonald announced a new SST catastrophe theory. His research, he said, had shown that water vapor released by the exhaust of the SST in the stratosphere would lead to a 4 percent depletion of the ozone layer. And, said McDonald, this ozone layer depletion would result in an additional 40,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States each year. The ozone wars had begun.
Congress, however, remained skeptical. Lydia Dotto and Harold Schiff chronicle the events that followed in great detail in their 1978 book, The Ozone War. According to Dotto and Schiff:
``McDonald came under sharp questioning, but the congressmen seemed more interested in his views on unidentified flying objects, than they were in his concerns about SSTs. McDonald had, in fact, been interested in the UFO problem for some time. He had done a study of UFO data, believed the problem to have been `scientifically ignored,' and had been a vocal opponent of plans to cancel a UFO observation program'' (p. 39).In fact, the last time McDonald had been at a congressional hearing was to testify to his belief that power failures in New York City had been the result of ``flying saucers'' drawing electricity from power transmission lines.
UFOs or no UFOs, the news media seized on the ozone depletion scare story, which was covered nationally. Within weeks, McDonald was called on to present his theory to the scientific community at a conference in Boulder, Colorado. The meeting, which took place on March 18 and 19, 1971, was sponsored by the Department of Commerce Technical Advisory Board. Its original purpose had been to study the other environmental concerns involving the SST, including the possibility of climate change. After McDonald's congressional testimony, however, attention was focused on potential depletion of the ozone layer.
The meeting became a battleground. Harriet Hardy, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, explained the absurdity of McDonald's skin cancer claims. Arnold Goldberg, chief scientist at Boeing's SST Division, tore apart McDonald's scientific evidence. Goldberg pointed to recent measurements showing that ozone had been increasing in the stratosphere, at the same time that water vapor levels had also been increasing.
This should have been a death blow to McDonald's theory and calculations, but other ``atmospheric experts'' at the conference argued that observational data were not enough to disprove this hypothetical claim....
McDonald was by no means left on his own to do the dirty work. Also speaking at the Boulder meeting was Harold Johnston, of the University of California at Berkeley. Johnston concocted a new version of the ozone depletion theory on the spot. In Johnston's scheme, it was not water vapor but nitrogen oxides (NOx), released by the exhaust of the SST operating in the stratosphere, that would deplete the ozone layer....
The participants of the Boulder meeting did not pay much attention to Johnston's theory at the time. Shortly after the meeting was over, however, it became the leading ozone depletion theory. Johnston played a major role in this, by feeding the press with truly frightening stories about how ozone depletion would lead a worldwide epidemic of skin cancer and blindness, induced by overdoses of ultraviolet radiation. According to Johnston:
``all animals of the world [except, of course, those that wore protective goggles] would be blinded if they ventured out during the daytime.''In a paper published in Science magazine in 1971, Johnston predicted ozone depletions up to 50 percent within two years of the advent of the SST.
....[T]he hysteria created by McDonald and Johnston had done the job it was intended to do: The two prototypes of the SST were killed, and with them the program. Although the United States dumped this program, France and England built the Concorde, while the United States and the Soviet Union went on to build hundreds of aircraft, supersonic bombers, spy planes, and jet fighters--which regularly put as much water vapor and nitrogen oxides into the stratosphere as some of the scenarios proposed by McDonald and Johnston. The ozone layer remains intact.
Nuclear explosions soon became a leading candidate, because the fireballs of nuclear blasts produce enormous amounts of nitrogen oxides that are quickly carried to the stratosphere. The Soviet and U.S. atmospheric tests of nuclear explosives in 1961-1962 were estimated to have injected into the stratosphere an amount of nitrogen oxide comparable to the existing stratospheric inventory of nitrogen oxide or to one year's operation of the projected SST fleet. These tests, therefore, appeared to provide an unparalleled opportunity for validating both the nitrogen oxide catalytic theory and the stratospheric models of ozone depletion.
Scientists H.M. Foley and M.A. Ruderman first suggested the use of nuclear blasts for this purpose in 1973, projecting an ozone reduction of at least 10 percent from the nuclear explosions. They were unable, however, to find any indication of a reduction of stratospheric ozone in the records examined.
As this work proceeded, the perils of nitrogen oxide poisoning of the stratosphere by nuclear explosions soon became a major international issue on its own. Predictions of a ``nuclear summer'' began to fill major newspapers. This new doomsday scenario predicted that the immediate result of a nuclear war would be the total destruction of the ozone layer, which would allow lethal doses of ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth. All life on Earth would be wiped out.
This new ozone depletion theory came just at the right time to play a major role in the SALT I negotiations managed by then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. According to Dotto and Schiff:
``[I]n the fall of 1974, Fred Iklé, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, gave several speeches in which he emphasized the hazards to all life on Earth that might result from the ozone depletion caused by nuclear war. His remarks received considerable press coverage.... Iklé was hopeful that the ozone connection might be a useful bargaining tool in disarmament talks, and he asked the National Academy of Sciences to do a study....
``The Academy held a five-day workshop in January 1975 and released a report that summer. This report did not consider casualties from the direct hits of belligerent nations, but the aftermath effects of the war, particularly on noncombatant nations. Nor did the study confine itself solely to the ozone question but, as we shall see, the ozone effects were a prominent feature of the report. In fact, the Academy's president, Philip Handler, said that the `principal new point' developed in the study was that the ozone effect, not dispersion of radiation, would be the major impact on countries not directly involved in the conflict.
``The study considered what would happen if ten thousand megatons of nuclear weapons--about half of the then-existing arsenals--were exploded. The conclusion was that the amount of NOx in the stratosphere would increase by factors of from five to fifty.... This in turn would lead to an ozone depletion in the atmosphere over the Northern Hemisphere of from 30 to 70 percent and from 20 to 40 percent in the Southern Hemisphere. The peak effect would occur within a few months of the event, and the atmosphere would take twenty to thirty years to recover. In addition to predicting increases in skin cancer lasting for over forty years, the report said that short-term effects would include `severe sunburn in temperate zones and snow blindness in northern latitudes.... For a 70 percent decrease in ozone, severe sunburn involving blistering of the skin would occur in ten minutes.'[pp.| 302-4]
As was the case concerning all the other hoaxes perpetrated by the ozone depletion theorists, the actual evidence flew in the face of the theory and made a laughingstock of the National Academy of Sciences' report in scientific circles.
In 1973, P. Goldsmith definitively repudiated this ``nuclear summer'' theory in an article for Nature magazine. Goldsmith wrote:
``Analysis of the ozone records reveal no detectable changes in the total atmospheric ozone during and after the periods of nuclear weapons testing. Although two models of nitrogen oxide injection [SSTs and nuclear bombs] may not be identical from the meteorological viewpoint, the conclusion that massive injections of nitrogen oxides into the stratosphere do not upset the ozone layer seems inescapable'' (p. 551).
The same view was echoed by most leading scientists, among them James K. Angell and J. Korshover, writing in the January 1976 issue of the Monthly Weather Review.
``If there was a reduction in total ozone following the [nuclear] tests, it is difficult to see how it could exceed 1 to 2 percent...,''they asserted.
``We hereby raise the caution flag, and suggest that perhaps the theoreticians and modelers are in error somewhere along the line, and that at the very least they have overestimated the magnitude of the nuclear (nitric oxide) effect on total ozone'' (p. 72).
Since then, it has been discovered that most of the nitric oxide in the atmosphere results not from any of man's activities, but from the solar wind, [which] carries vast amounts of energetic solar protons, which generate nitrogen oxides when they collide with the Earth's atmosphere.
In its original conception, the orbiter was to be a craft the size of a medium-range airliner that would ride on top of a booster the size of a 747. Both vehicles would be piloted, and both would be able to fly back to land like conventional aircraft. The booster (a supersonic transport), would have been powered by 12 rocket engines, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to lift the paired vehicles from the ground. When the SST had exhausted its fuel, the orbiter would break away and continue into space, using its own hydrogen/oxygen-fueled rockets, leaving the booster to fly back to base under the power of its auxiliary jet engines.
The 1970s, however, saw draconian cuts in the space program budget and also the defeat of the SST. NASA was forced to dangerously compromise the Space Shuttle program and fall back on a cheaper design. The result was the partly reusable Shuttle system that came into operation and is now a familiar sight. This compromise craft is equivalent to the orbiter stage of the original proposal, using its own rocket motors and the fuel from a huge external tank to get into orbit. In order to lift the required weight of fuel off the ground and give the vehicle enough thrust to reach orbit, however, this craft required a pair of additional solid-fuel rockets strapped onto the Shuttle/tank configuration for launch.
As soon as the new configuration of the Shuttle was announced, environmental impact studies began. NASA announced that ``no negative environmental effects in the stratosphere are expected as a result of Shuttle operations.'' But the environmentalists disagreed. They claimed that the hydrogen chloride (HCl) gas emitted by the Shuttle's solid-fuel rockets in the stratosphere could be dangerous. Under pressure, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center awarded a contract to a team of researchers at the University of Michigan to consider any environmental effects that may have been missed. Why this contract was awarded to the Michigan team is a mystery. The two main researchers were Richard Stolarski and Ralph Cicerone. According to Dotto and Schiff:
Cicerone and Stolarski were yet another team of ``outsiders'' when it came to problems of the ozone layer. Like Rowland and Molina, they were not stratospheric chemists. Unlike Rowland and Molina, they were not even chemists. Cicerone had received his degree in electrical engineering and both he and Stolarski, whose training was in physics, had been doing work on the ionosphere, a region of the atmosphere above the stratosphere [p. 125].
But what they lacked in knowledge, Cicerone and Stolarski made up with their enthusiasm to avert a new-found environmental disaster. Dotto and Schiff write:
Stolarski remembers that they were looking around for something new to do and were attracted by all the activity in the stratosphere. But it was not easy to break into that game ... and ``you couldn't just hop into the SST thing. It had been going for too long and we didn't have the credentials.'' So they decided to take ``something that nobody cared about, which was chlorine'' [p. 125].For that purpose, the Shuttle contract was just the ticket. Cicerone and Stolarski's goal became to discover by which mechanism chlorine from the rocket boosters could damage the ozone layer. Assuming 50 flights per year, the boosters would deposit more than 5,000 tons of HCl in the stratosphere annually.
Unbeknownst to Cicerone and Stolarski, another team of researchers was at work assessing the impact of chlorine waste from the Space Shuttle on the stratosphere. The second team, located at Harvard, was led by Mike McElroy and Steven Wofsy. Both teams were working in secret, hoping to accumulate enough scientific evidence to publish a paper and open up the next phase of the Ozone Wars....
The next battle in the war came in November 1973, when Harold Schiff received a paper from McElroy for inclusion in the proceedings of the conference, to be published in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry.. According to Dotto and Schiff:
``Schiff was a little taken aback to discover that it was dominated by a discussion of chlorine chemistry, rather than the nitrogen chemistry that had made up the bulk of McElroy's presentation in Kyoto'' (p. 131).The paper now stated that the impetus of the studies of chlorine at Harvard was the effect of the Space Shuttle on the ozone layer.
The Harvard team stopped at nothing to prevent its rivals from gaining the credit for the Space Shuttle scare. Harvard team member Steve Wofsy reviewed a paper on chlorine submitted to Science magazine by Stolarski and Cicerone and he rejected it for publication. When Stolarski and Cicerone, learned of the rejection of their paper, they hit the ceiling. Not only had their paper been rejected, but also they had obtained a preprint of a paper written by Wofsy and McElroy, to be published in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry, which dealt with the same subject.
During December 1973, several high-level NASA officials decided to look at the scientific evidence concerning chlorine depletion of the ozone layer, and they established the Shuttle Exhaust Effects Panel. The panel sponsored a three-day scientific workshop at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Jan. 21-24, 1974. Both NASA scientists and outside researchers participated. The workshop concluded that most of the data and calculations were uncertain but that there was a possibility of a 1 or 2 percent ozone depletion from chlorine released by the Shuttle. At least one scientist at the workshop argued that the data indicated that there would be a net increase in ozone.
The workshop's final report stated that Shuttle operations would result in a ``small but significant'' addition to natural sources of HCl in the stratosphere, adding that the calculations of ozone depletion ranged ``from significant to insignificant.''
Less than 10 days after the gathering, NASA's Physical Sciences Advisory Committee met at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Harvard's Mike McElroy was the chairman of the public session, where a summary of the workshop was discussed with members of the press in attendance. The results of the discussion came as a complete surprise to many. Without warning, the staff member assigned to present the workshop data announced that a 10 percent depletion of the ozone layer would occur over Florida, in the high-traffic corridor over Cape Canaveral, as a result of Space Shuttle operations....
[NASA Administrator James] Fletcher was furious, and demanded to know how McElroy could have allowed discussion of this sensitive subject during an open meeting. The question was very serious, said the NASA administrator. It did not matter that the numbers released at the meeting were wild conjectures; the news media could now seize upon them to destroy the Space Shuttle and thus the space program itself.
Fletcher decided to handle the crisis by addressing it publicly. On Feb. 14, during a speech at the National Space Club in Washington, he brought up the speculations concerning the destructive effect of chlorine on the ozone layer, and asserted that there were ``no data to show that this actually happens''....
We return to December 1973. The location is the chemistry department at the University of California at Irvine. F. Sherwood Rowland, the chairman of the department, is preparing to depart on a six-month sabbatical to Europe, where he is hoping to get some inspiration to redirect the department's scientific course, as well as some much-needed funding.
Rowland knew one thing that the Harvard and Michigan teams had missed. In 1970, James Lovelock, the official father of the hypothesis that the Earth is a living goddess-creature called Gaia, had built an instrument designed to measure CFCs in the air, at that time one of the most sensitive instruments in the world, capable of measuring parts per million. Lovelock took the instrument on a cruise to Antarctica and back, measuring CFCs all along the way. He discovered the presence of CFCs in Antarctica and concluded that the amounts of CFCs in the air were the equivalent of all the emissions of CFCs from the beginning of their use until then. From this he drew the conclusion that there was no natural process destroying CFCs.
Reviewing Lovelock's findings, Rowland also conjectured that there were no sinks (processes that remove or destroy compounds) for CFCs in the lower atmosphere. He concluded, therefore, that he should direct his attention up to the stratosphere. So Rowland instructed one of his research associates, Mario Molina, to find out what happened to CFCs and the chlorine from CFCs when they reached the stratosphere.
Molina knew nothing about the stratosphere or stratospheric chemistry; his expertise was in chemical lasers. For that matter, neither did Rowland, who had graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a major in chemistry and a minor in journalism. Nevertheless, the team proceeded. Shortly before Christmas, after doing calculations on paper for several days, Molina came to Rowland with a new doomsday theory. He told Rowland that when CFCs rose to the stratosphere, they would be split apart by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, releasing chlorine. The next step, said Molina, was a catalytic chain reaction in which the chlorine molecules would destroy hundreds of thousands of ozone molecules. His conclusion was that between 20 and 40 percent of the ozone layer would be destroyed.
After poring over the calculations of his assistant, Rowland called Harold Johnston at the University of California at Berkeley. Johnston, as noted above, was already an initiate of the ozone depletion priesthood. Rowland was an ardent follower of Johnston, and had invited Johnston twice to the Irvine campus to give presentations on the SST doomsday theory.
Johnston told Rowland there was nothing new about the chlorine chain doomsday theory, but CFCs as a source of chlorine was something new. Rowland and Molina flew to Berkeley where they met with Johnston. Johnston gave them preprint copies of the scientific papers written by the Michigan and Harvard teams on the threat to the ozone layer from the Space Shuttle and looked over their calculations. At the end of their meeting, Johnston gave Rowland and Molina his blessings and urged them to publish their calculations.
As he left for his sabbatical in Europe, Rowland was on the verge of becoming famous as a result of his assitant's new doomsday theory. He spent his first Sunday in Vienna writing a paper, which he sent to the British journal Nature. His next step was to contact the leading proponents of ozone depletion theories in Europe. In Sweden he met with Paul J. Crutzen, who had become--and still is--Europe's grand priest of the ozone depletion theory. Not only did Crutzen give Rowland his blessing, he was actually the first one to unveil the new ozone depletion theory to the press during a speech at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in February 1974, months before Rowland's paper was published in Nature magazine.
With the cooperation of the press, however, the CFC scare story remained dormant as long as the Space Shuttle threat to the ozone layer remained a viable scenario to cripple the space program. The CFC story was revived in the fall of 1974, during a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlantic City. By then Rowland had joined forces with the University of Michigan team of Ralph Cicerone and Richard Stolarski. In July 1973, the three had met to devise a strategy by which they could break the CFC story in the press. Cicerone and Stolarski submitted an article to Science magazine, while Rowland wrote a 150-page paper to support his theory.
In late summer, Dorothy Smith, the news manager of the American Chemical Society, held a press conference for the doomsayers. Rowland used this platform to predict a 50 percent depletion by the year 2050. Cicerone and Stolarski predicted a 10 percent depletion of ozone by 1985 to 1990, previewing a paper that was to appear in Science magazine Sept. 27.
Several wire services carried the CFC story, but it did not become major news until it was featured on the front page of the New York Times Sept. 26, 1974. The Times story, written by Walter Sullivan, was doomsday journalism at its best. In one of the more bizarre turns of the ozone depletion wars, however, instead of featuring the work of Rowland, or Cicerone and Stolarski, Sullivan featured a paper written by the competing Harvard team led by McElroy and Wofsy. Sullivan's article created an uproar in the scientific community. The scientific paper featured in the New York Times had not even been received by Science magazine for publication when the newspaper article came out; the paper was not actually published until February 1975, four months after Sullivan's front-page splash. Furthermore, Dotto and Schiff tell us:
``What really caused annoyance and bitterness was the fact that the Times story appeared just one day before the Michigan calculations were published in Science, in effect scooping them'' (p. 23).
Yet one more treacherous sneak attack in the Ozone Wars. By this time, such tactics were very important to the depletion theorists, who believed that a Nobel Prize hung in the balance of the contest.
The paper by McElroy and Wofsy featured in the Times had several scenarios for ozone depletion, depending on whether the ban on CFCs was immediate or whether it occurred at a later date. Following the scenario that most closely resembles production rates of CFCs since 1975, the Harvard team's model predicted an 18 percent depletion of the ozone layer by 1990. Whether it be Cicerone's 10 percent or McElroy's 18 percent, the fact is that 1990 has already passed, and there is still no measurable depletion of the ozone layer. Rowland and Molina, the Michigan team, and the Harvard team have been proven to be wrong.
Ten years to the day after the nuclear summer theory was proposed in 1973, some of the very same scientists who floated that scare story came up with the ``nuclear winter'' theory. The fact that the same scientists, using the same models, had now come up with the exactly opposite predictions was ignored by the news media. Like the nuclear summer hoax, the nuclear winter theory was proven to be a fraud, and the public did not hear much about it after 1985, until recently. The recent burning of the Kuwaiti oil fields has produced an enormous cloud of dense, black smoke, similar to one that would be produced by use of tactical nuclear weapons. Where is the environmentalists' nuclear winter?
The nuclear winter theory was introduced to the public in November 1983, when ABC-TV network broadcast The Day After, a made-for-television ``docudrama'' that purported to give a realistic picture of the conditions after a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. The broadcast came in a period of great strategic conflict and upheaval. On March 23, 1983, U.S. President Ronald Reagan had announced his controversial Strategic Defense Initiative; six months later, in September, the Soviets had responded to his offer for joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. development of antiballistic missile systems by shooting down the civilian aircraft Korean Air Liner 007.
In addition to The Day After, viewers were treated to the performance of television scientist Carl Sagan, who charged in an interview broadcast after the film that it had seriously ``downplayed'' the consequences of a nuclear war. According to Sagan's calculations, a ``small'' nuclear exchange equal to about 1,000 megatons of TNT would be enough to obscure the sunlight for weeks and cause temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere to sink 30° Celsius below normal. Even a unilateral preventive nuclear strike, Sagan said, would bring on a ``nuclear winter'' that would destroy both victor and vanquished. Sagan and colleagues published their calculations in Science magazine....
According to this doomsday scenario, transportation systems would break down, as would power grids, food production, medical care, sewage, and sanitation. Government services would be impossible. All over the world there would be starvation, hypothermia, radiation sickness, disease, and death....
Nuclear winter was thus established as a scientific fact. But, was it really? Absolutely not. Within months, scientists had debunked the computer models used to predict the doomsday scenario. The models used by Carl Sagan, Paul J. Crutzen, and other proponents of the nuclear winter theory had conveniently ignored the existence of the oceans--which cover two-thirds of the surface of the Earth--and their role in the biosphere. Any grade school student who has studied the weather knows that the oceans are the key factor determining weather on Earth. But in Sagan's model there were no thunderstorms, hurricanes, or tornadoes, or ocean-atmosphere interaction. No mention was made of these and other weather phenomena that would clear the troposphere and stratosphere of smoke after a nuclear exchange--as they do after volcanic eruptions....
Soon after Sagan declared the nuclear winter theory, he and others revealed their strategy: The nuclear winter theory ``proved'' the physical impossibility of winning a nuclear war. Therefore, political and military leaders, East and West, had no choice but to abandon their nuclear strategies, including the purely defensive SDI. It seemed that simple to observers accustomed to Hollywood happy endings.
However, military leaders of both the superpowers had not waited for Sagan's nuclear winter theory. They themselves had raised the question of whether their most powerful weapons might also destroy themselves. The climatic effects of nuclear explosions--and the immense fires that were expected afterward--had been investigated since the 1960s, netting less spectacular results than those predicted by Sagan, et al. Under somewhat more realistic conditions than the worst-case assumptions of Sagan, the climatic effects on the nuclear aggressor are far less devastating than the direct effects of nuclear bombs on the territory attacked.
Thus, the concern of military leaders at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s was in exactly the opposite direction of the nuclear winter advocates; namely, that technological development and greater accuracy was increasingly undermining nuclear deterrence.
Gradually, Sagan and his friends conceded that they had exaggerated, and that the substance of the nuclear winter hypothesis could not be maintained. Proponent Stephen T. Schneider came to speak of a ``nuclear autumn,'' and Paul J. Crutzen, whose article in the 1982 Ambio had kicked off the nuclear winter thesis, spoke in a newspaper interview not about scientific facts in connection with this theory but rather about political contacts. Physicist Freeman Dyson suggested a simple formula for the nuclear winter: ``Good politics, bad physics.''
``In addition, researchers found evidence of reduced concentrations of nitrogen oxides in the lower stratosphere. Nitrogen oxides help preserve ozone by reacting with chlorine and bromine compounds before they can damage the ozone layer. 'Our conclusion is that the "immune system of the atmosphere"--its nitrogen-mediated ability to fight ozone-destroying chemicals--is weaker than we had suspected before,' said James G. Anderson of Harvard University, lead scientist for the airborne observations program.''
The bottom line is that the same nitrogen oxides declared to be dangerous by opponents of the SST are now described as ``the immune system of the atmosphere''!
Also of interest is that in 1992, many veterans of the ozone wars sit in positions of scientific power. Ozone depletion theorist F. Sherwood Rowland, for example, is the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of Science magazine. Another ozone warrior, Ralph Cicerone, is president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), one of the world's leading scientific societies. AGU publishes EOS, the Journal of Geophysical Research, and Geophysical Research Letters, the primary journals through which many scientific theories, especially global warming and ozone depletion, are debated.
Other leading ozone depletion theorists are also in top posts with command power over scientific journals and associations, and, ultimately, public opinion. In this intensely political situation, the doomsday scientific establishment thus decides who is published in the literature and who receives grants--issues that can make or break a career. The doomsday scientists have received a bonanza of research grants, titles, perks, positions, and much more, as a result of the publicity received by their theories. At the same time, the scientists who have had the courage to oppose the doomsday theories in public have had their papers rejected for publication, their grant money discontinued, and in some cases, have even lost their research and teaching positions.
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