Thursday, 19 October 2006

Ozone, Baby

I'm currently reading this popular science book. It doesn't matter which, because that will be the subject of several other posts; what does matter is that the book was written in the mid seventies, and the Hebrew version I'm reading was published in 1981.
Amongst others, the book discusses the issue of the hole in the ozone layer, and it suggests that this hole is caused by CFC's found in aerosols as well as the fluids running air-conditioners and fridges.
The amazing bit comes in the shape of a footnote, saying: "Translator comment: According to the current views of the scientific community, this theory is incorrect". I bet that translator would prefer to commit suicide than to be reminded of this foolish footnote she added to a perfectly good theory!
Which shows the wisdom one gains over a period of 25 years. We can now safely look back and see how silly and ignorant we were.
But the lesson I value the most with regards to the hole in the ozone layer has to do with something a bit different. Ask everyone you want about the dangers posed by the hole in the ozone layer, and I guarantee that 90% of the people if not more would tell you that it's skin cancer.
And that's where the problem is. We are so selfish and self centered it's amazing! We can't seem to help it: religion tells us we're the pinacle of creation, and most of us seem to take its word for granted.
Hardly anyone cares to think of others. In this case, hardly anyone bothers to think of what, to the best of my knowledge, is the real big danger: that small micro organisms, infinitely more sensitive to ultra violet light, would break apart; and that their catastrophe will filter up the food chain to create a problem much bigger than having to slap some sun-screen on or keep under the shade.
We humans need to learn some humility. And we need to apply it soon, because the handling of global warming is going to be much trickier than the handling of the hole in the ozone layer.

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