Case Studies in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism
Guest Scientist: Drew Shindell, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences
Before Molina and Rowland’s 1974 paper, a large portion of the world attributed ozone decrease to airplanes and jets. Why do you think there wasn’t a lot of press coverage about their chlorofluorocarbon discovery? Did any article cover their study particularly well (or not well)?
The EPA ordered a phase-out of the non-essential uses of chlorofluorocarbons in 1978. However, it wasn’t until the 1985 Farman et al. paper that people started to really pay attention, especially within the international political community. Why do you think it took over a decade for widespread response? What was different about the Farman et al. paper.
Many of the articles about the 1974 Molina and Rowland paper were quick blurbs, not often directly mentioning their study. In the 1980s and beyond, articles tended to the report more directly on scientific studies in this example. Do you think that readership interests have helped this kind of environmental reporting become a more prevalent part of the media, or do you think the media has affected the readership’s interest?
What trends do you notice in the popular articles (ozone science) section?
Do the early articles do a good job explaining the science behind chlorofluorocarbon’s role in ozone depletion? Any particularly bad ones?
“The Ozone Layer; Cold Comfort” was the first article (that we could find) that dealt with the 1985 Farman et al paper. How well does it deal with the issue and science behind it?
Do you get a sense of balanced reporting in these articles?
The Montreal Protocol is considered to be the first and one of the best global environmental treaties. What aspects of the Montreal Protocol made it such as successful international treaty?
The Montreal Protocol addresses nine classes ozone depleting chemicals and how each will be managed in the future. However, the popular press typically focused on just one (CFCs) and occasionally two (CFCs and Halons) of these in their discussion. Why might that be?
Ozone depletion is a global issue and many nations came together to create the terms and conditions shown in the Montreal Protocol. How did coverage of the protocol differ between nations (United States, Australia, Canada)? Were different values and culture expressed in the different nations?
Who was affected more by the Montreal Protocol, the industries or the individual consumer? Is this reflected in the popular articles? How?
There were still vast amounts of uncertainty in the science of ozone depletion before and after the Montreal Protocol. Which of the popular articles reflect this uncertainty best? Worst?
Several of the articles address a link between ozone depletion and global warming. Do they address the scientific uncertainty in this link? What evidence would we still need to strengthen this link if there is one?
This September marked the 20-year anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol. Looking at the 2007 articles, has the view on the Montreal Protocol changed? Is there just as much controversy now as ever or has it subsided? Has the protocol been successful?
The Montreal Protocol has been called a great predecessor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Given what you have heard in the news about the Kyoto Protocol and read in this case study about the Montreal Protocol what are the major similarities and differences between them? What was the role of the US in each? How much scientific uncertainty surrounds each? Does that affect the acceptance of the Protocol?
·“Ozone Depletion” – Wikipedia
· “Ozone Science” – USEPA website, answers questions like ozone-depleting substances, current state of the ozone layer, health and environmental effects of ozone layer depletion, dispelling myths
· Nasa Ozone Hole watch – Daily updates and maps
Crutzen, Paul. 1970. “Influence of Nitrogen Oxides on Atmospheric Ozone Content.” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 96(408):320.
Molina, M.J. & F.S. Rowland. 1974. “Stratospheric sink for chlorofluoromethanes: chlorine atomc-atalysed destruction of ozone.” Nature 249: 810-812.
Farman, J.C., Gardiner, B.G., and J.D. Shanklin. 1985. “Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal ClOx/NOx interaction.” Nature 315: 207-210.
Clyne, M.A.A. 1974. “Destruction of atmospheric ozone?” Nature 249: 796-797.
“Death to Ozone.” Time Magainze. October 7, 1974.
“Why aerosols are under attack.” Business Week. February 17, 1975
“Aerosol makers brace for ozone ordeal.” Chemical Week. June 11, 1975.
“Fftt Comes Back.” Time Magazine. September 22, 1975.
“Saving the Ozone.” Newsweek. September 27, 1976.
“Government ban on fluorocarbon gases in aerosol products begins October 15 (1978)” EPA Press Release. October 15, 1978.
“Bad data make the EPA duck.” Business Week. March 13, 1978.
Sullivan, Walter. “Low Ozone Level Found Above Antarctica.” The New York Times. November 7, 1985.
“The ozone layer; Cold comfort.” The Economist. July 13, 1985.
Tucker, Anthony. “Futures: The hole in the heavens/Thickness of the ozone layer.” The Guardian (London). July 25, 1986.
Peterson, Cass. “US Tax on Chlorofluorocarbons Sought to Help Save Ozone Layer; Institute Recommends Global Controls, Reduction of Emissions.” The Washington Post. November 30, 1986.
Cowen, Robert. “Geneva meeting on ozone focuses efforts to set world standards.” Christian Science Monitor. December 5, 1986.
Peterson, Cass. “Administration ozone policy may favor sunglasses, hats; Support for chemical cutbacks reconsidered.” The Washington Post. May 29, 1987.
Ardill, John. “Aerosol carbon blamed for hole in ozone layer.” The Guardian (London). August 7, 1987.
Peterson, Cass. “McDonald’s Repackaging Sandwiches to Guard Ozone; Chain Announces Environmental Gesture.” The Washington Post. August 6, 1987.
Peak, S. “Packaging not a health risk, says burger boss.” Herald. August 14, 1987.
“Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer” 1987. as adjusted and/or amended in London 1990, Copenhagen 1992, Vienna 1995, Montreal 1997, Beijing 1999. (SUMMARY)
Maddox, John. 1987. “The great ozone controversy.” Nature 329: 101.
Keating, Micheal. “Ratification of ozone pact thought likely to take a year.” The Globe and Mail (Canada). September 17, 1987.
Weisskopf, Michael. “45 Nations Near Treaty on Ozone; Chemical Production Would be Curbed to Protect Atmosphere.” The Washington Post. September 16, 1987.
Shabecoff, Philip. “Dozens of Nations Reach Agreement To Protect Ozone.” The New York Times. September 17, 1987.
Shabecoff, Philip. “Washington Talk: State Department; The Environment as a Diplomatic Issue.” The New York Times. December 25, 1987.
Gleick, James. “Sharp Ozone Drop Found Worldwide in 8-Year Period.” The New York Times. January 1, 1988.
Peak, S. “New Warning on Our Thinning Ozone.” Herald (Australia). January 1, 1988.
Nelson-Horchler, Joani. “Ozone’s price tag: CFC substitutes will be expensive.” Industry Week. February 15, 1988.
Gleick, James. “Treaty Powerless to Stem a Growing Loss of Ozone.” The new York Times. March 20, 1988.
Erlichman, James. “Du Pont opens way to death of ozone eater.” The Guardian (London). March 26, 1988.
“Chlorofluorocarbons; On the way out, with luck.” The Economist. May 21, 1988.
Cowen, Robert. “Turning the Heat Off.” Christian Science Monitor. June 30, 1988.
Greaves, William. “The man who saw the hole; Joe Farman; Ozone layer; Spectrum.” The Times (London). August 1, 1988.
Landrey, Wilburg G. “The changing climate is creating the world crisis.” St. Petersburg Times (Florida). August 14, 1988.
Garelik, Glen. “Environment A Breath of Fresh Air.” Time Magazine. September 28, 1987
Melkert, Ad. “Twenty year later, the Montreal Protocol is still making its mark; The pact was a ground-breaking deal that set the stage for Kyoto.” The Gazette (Montreal). September 16, 2007.
Mulroney, Brian. “Twenty Years Later, Learning from Success.” National Post (f/k/a The Financial Post) (Canada). September 17, 2007.
Revkin, Andrew C. “From Ozone Success, a Potential Climate Model.” The New York Times. September 18, 2007.
Lieberman, Ben. “Ozone: the hole truth.” The Washington Times. September 19, 2007.
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