back to article Yay! The ozone layer hole the smallest it's ever been seen. That's not necessarily good...

The hole in Earth’s ozone layer is the smallest it has ever been since scientists discovered the puncture nearly 35 years ago, according to NASA. “It’s great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. “But it’s important to recognize …

  1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    So Good news

    .. It wont be the hole in the ozone layer that kills us.

    yay.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: So Good news

      It's going to take time to improve, because CFCs stay in the atmosphere for years before finally breaking down. So even if we stopped all CFC production instantly it would take time. However I think recent research suggests that the hole isn't shrinking as fast as predicted, and there's a suspicion that there's still some major manufacturing source out there producing the stuff - that nobody knows about.

      But as long as we don't start using the stuff again, this is a problem that'll solve itself eventually.

      1. deive

        Re: So Good news

        It was tracked down earlier this year. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48353341

      2. John 104

        Re: So Good news

        @Spartacus

        Yeah, I'm sure China, India, and other 'we don't give a fuck' countries were right on board because Western powers decided to play nice. It's right up there with catalytic converters, efficient engines, and carbon neutral ideas that we have been promoting for years. All good for us, but when India and China are pumping tons of the stuff into the atmosphere, it doesn't mean much.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So Good news

      Don't be so pessimistic.

      There's always the possibility of an enormous asteroid obliterating the earth and destroying any evidence of man- made environmental issues.

  2. Blackjack

    Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

    Just because the hole is smaller it doesn't mean we will miraculously recover from all the damage done. Even if the hole was gone today, the damage caused would still be around for decades at the very minimum.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

      Ozone depletion wasn't all bad. We all made more vitamin D. Admittedly, the skin cancer and cataracts were a bit of a drawback.

      I'm interested in the ongoing damage you refer to. Do you mean future cancer cases? Care to expand?

      Anyway, despite your apparent gloom and doom world view, it's good news. As Thatcher herself would have said, "Just rejoice at that news".

      p.s. That's "Lady Thatcher" to you. Lady Thatcher, milk snatcher.

      p.p.s. Thatcher:-

      But the story that sums up her whole style was when she was a guest at the press gallery children's party and was being shown around by Father Christmas. They came upon a small boy crying into his dessert. "Miss, miss," said the boy, "they've given me blancmange, and I don't like blancmange!"

      "That," she said sweetly, "is what parties are all about – eating food you don't like." And it was her recipe for government, too.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

        I've still not eaten blancmange since having it for a school christmas dinner when I was 6. It took me until I was about 30 to force myself to try ravioli in an Italian restaurant - after the horrors of school dinner catering "ravioli". Which was radioactive orange because of the "tomato" sauce and filled with grey belly-button fluff minced beef. Ugh!

        My Mum still refuses to eat mashed potatoes because of the horrors of wartime school dinners - where they left the eyes in due to not wanting to waste any nutritious food.

        As for Maggie - that's the sort of thing my Mum would have said to us. She's shockingly easy on the grandchildren - but we were brought up the harder way. She even invented a method to teach children with learning difficulties and/or behavioural problems to eat properly. She'd put their pudding in the middle of the table during dinner, and then slice bits off and take them away if they were naughty. Taking it all gives no incentive to behave afterwards - whereas seeing the consequences of your actions is more instructive. She taught in an RNIB special school - but clearly had the talent for the Gestapo...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

          "It took me until I was about 30 to force myself to try ravioli in an Italian restaurant - [...]"

          In the 1950/60s my sister won a bet from our father on two occasions - for the then not inconsiderable sum of one shilling. Both bets were to eat "new" foods that he wouldn't touch: mushrooms and spaghetti. The latter being the Heinz tinned variety. We both ate them after that - but my father never did.

          At about the same time our breakfast cereal was Sugar Puffs. One day one or two of them appeared to be moving. The packet was stored in a traditional kitchen cabinet with a fitted flour sifting dispenser. It hadn't been used for years - but there had obviously been some remaining flour on which a fly had laid its eggs. The moving Sugar Puffs were the similarly coloured maggots. We converted to toast for breakfast and never wanted Sugar Puffs again.

      2. RPF

        Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

        Milk has a carcinogen in it, casein.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166373/

        Also the calcium "benefits" of milk are bogus: the body stops producing calcium when milk is consumed and then later in life, if you stop drinking it, your bones become brittle. Hip-fracture rates in old people in the West are actually higher than same age group in China.

        Perhaps giving milk to kids wasn't such a great idea after all?

        1. John Jennings

          Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

          Your body would need a fusion reactor to produce Calcium.

          I think you are referring to calcium extraction - and there, you are talking tosh. You need to extract calcium. Yes, you can get too much of it. Age related osteoporosis is not related to the amount of calcium in the diet - rather its more to do with the invisibility of the body to absorb it and use it - generally thought to be a reduction in oestrogen and angrogen.

          Hip fracture rate differences are more likely due to an increase in sedentary lifestiles in the West in that age group.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

            "[...] generally thought to be a reduction in oestrogen and angrogen."

            Vitamin D is also an essential component in fixing calcium into the bones. Hence the increase in rickets in people who avoid exposure to sunshine in the UK.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

              "people who avoid exposure to sunshine in the UK."

              Sunshine? In the UK? Next you'll be telling me you can get proper food and wine made in the UK, and I won't believe that either!

              1. Symon Silver badge
                Flame

                Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

                Haha, we get some sunshine. Occasionally.

                http://www.reuk.co.uk/wordpress/solar/solar-insolation/

                Not as much as I remember living in CA, but at least we never have to turn off the electricity in case the countryside catches fire!

                https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/23/us/california-fires-wednesday/index.html

        2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

          Perhaps giving milk to kids wasn't such a great idea after all?

          Uurgh..so many memories of being forced to drink school milk from those 1/2 pint bottles with a straw. It was always just left at the bottom of the stairs so in winter it had lumps of ice in it, and in summer it was warm and part-way to being cheese by break time. And because my birthday fell during the school hols, I was "entitled" to it for an extra year more than most of my classmates,

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

            I also didn't like school milk. Though ours was fortunately fresh from the fridge. So cold and not what you wanted in Winter. Mum told me that one of her teachers used to put it on top of the radiator so that it was "warmed up" when they came in from morning break. Which made it absolutely horrible.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

              "[...] used to put it on top of the radiator so that it was "warmed up" {...]"

              On a touring trip we had a meal at a large chain motel at the tip of Scotland. When the bottle of red wine arrived - it was ice cold. So it was sent back. A little while later it came back. As you drank it there were alternating areas of hot and cold. We reckoned they had stuck it on a radiator. The chicken was also a disaster. Cutting into the meat exposed pink flesh with blood viz not fully cooked.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

                Both sound like a microwave was in use ...

          2. STOP_FORTH
            Headmaster

            Mensuration

            Wasn't it a third of a pint?

            1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

              Re: Mensuration

              Wasn't it a third of a pint?

              Come to think of it, it was - I was a much smaller person back then so it probably just looked bigger

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Mensuration

                Bit like Wagon Wheels getting smaller then. It's just our hands getting bigger...

                They're still horrible though.

                1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                  Re: Mensuration

                  But Curly Wurlies definitely shrank!

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Mensuration

                  "They're still horrible though."

                  At Halloween they soon go from the treats basket. Admittedly they are usually the biggest chocolate bar in there.

          3. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

            I used to love it. ISTR two of us drinking the whole crate (24 bottles of 1/3 pt) in the last year of primary school for a bet. I won with about 15' if you are interested.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Symon and M Thatcher

        point to your head and say her initials.

        Personally I have always been surpised at the English veneration of their monsters, almost as if killing your own people for profit and power was a good thing.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: @ Symon and M Thatcher

          I have always been surpised at the English veneration of their monsters, almost as if killing your own people for profit and power was a good thing.

          We're traditionalists who don't like to argue with thousands of years of historical precedent. We're also egalitarians so have spent centuries killing other people for profit and power as well.

        2. Wicked Witch

          Re: @ Symon and M Thatcher

          That's easy: just try to get agreement with those people on the definitions of "own" and "people", let alone the added complexities of "own people". Then apply the different definitions to northerners, miners, poor people, non-Etonians (or maybe Harrovians), Scots, inhabitants of Ireland, colonials, natives (in all its many meanings and connotations), immigrants, "immigrants",…

    2. John Jennings

      Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

      Its been decades, and the hole is reducing.

      We stopped mass producing CFCs 30 years ago. Freons typically have 50-70 year half lives in the atmosphere, so we should see a reduction by now.

      It is still like mentioned above, produced clandestinely, and other pollutants can have a similar (though usually lesser) effect.

      On the other hand. Computer modelling is really a bit crap for this sort of work. It constantly has massive variance adjustments made, to accommodate the general chaos of the systems under consideration.

      1. cirby

        Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

        Not exactly.

        True, CFC production is much lower than it was 30 years ago, but it's common knowledge that there are "bootleg" CFC factories in places like China and India - and they're producing enough CFCs to counterbalance the tiny amount of CFC that degrades each year. We weren't supposed to see an appreciable reduction in stratospheric CFCs until the middle of the 21st century, even with complete phase-out of CFCs.

        Basically, the amount of CFCs in the upper atmosphere shouldn't be going down at all, much less dropping enough to allow ozone regeneration. That suggests that the theory was drastically wrong about the mechanism for ozone depletion, at least in magnitude.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

          That suggests that the theory was drastically wrong about the mechanism for ozone depletion, at least in magnitude.

          Makes you wonder what other theories used for long term forecasting, based on primitive computer models, are going to be exposed as "drastically wrong" in years to come...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

            "[...] are going to be exposed as "drastically wrong" in years to come..."

            It is amazing how many times the wrong (or poorly understood) method has produced the right results. In my career there were several IT applications that did that - in spite of serious bugs. In some cases the effects of two bugs cancelled each other out.

        2. BigSLitleP Silver badge

          Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better

          Except for the fact that CFC production hasn't dropped significantly, therefor CFCs are still affecting the ozone. There was literally a recent study showing that CFC output has increased in China and India.

          That suggests that your theory that the original theory is wrong is wrong.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yet the weather is still getting worse, not better @BigSLitleP

            Except for the fact that CFC production hasn't dropped significantly, therefor CFCs are still affecting the ozone.

            If this isn't a significant drop, then I'd love to know what is!

            http://www.theozonehole.com/images/cofck.ht1.jpg

  3. Paul J Turner

    Like blood groups, O-holes and A-holes

    Haha, you can read the panic in every utterance as their meal-ticket evaporates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Like blood groups, O-holes and A-holes

      I'm ok - Group B+

  4. jake Silver badge

    Obviously went to school to learn ...

    ... the meaning of the technical term "wonky".

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Obviously went to school to learn ...

      Ah, memories of SM:TV and Wonkey Donkey. "IT'S GOT TO RHYME!!"

      https://youtu.be/fA4rSOOjVQY

  5. JimPoak
    Mushroom

    Yay!

    It's just a little under 40 years since CFC were band. This was the primary culprit for destroying the ozone layer. I don't think we will have the same amount of time to fix climate change especially when some dumb ass thinks nuclear weapons are the solution taming devastating hurricanes.

    Look at earth.nullschool.net and select Chem - So2sm

    1. Oengus Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Yay!

      It's just a little under 40 years since CFC were band.

      I don't remember them. What were some of their songs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yay!

        I don't remember them. What were some of their songs?

        I believe they did a passable version of Jumpin' Jack Flash - it's a gas, gas. gas

  6. ratfox Silver badge

    Still feels like we don't have a clue what's going on.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I don't know though. I think the ozone hole story is a great example of good science.

      Scott might have come second in the race for the South Pole - but at least he didn't get there with a continuous doggy-betrayal based diet. And also his expedition did a lot of science - it wasn't just a race for glory.

      And that science was what gave the British Antarctic Survey scientists a baseline to compare the 1980s levels of ozone to - which I understand is how they discovered the ozone hole.

      They then worked out what was causing it, banned the use of CFCs and now the hole is slowly shrinking - as the stuff gradually breaks down over time.

      1. MJB7 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Scott figures

        Scott certainly did some useful scientific work (remember the Antarctic explorer's prayer: "For speed and efficiency, give me Admunsen; for scientific discovery give me Scott; but when disaster strikes, and all else fails, get down on your knees and *pray* for Shackleton"), but the ozone hole was mainly obvious from comparing September (spring) values with other values (which were much, much, higher).

        The other snippet about the ozone hole is that Jonathan Shanklin didn't actually know anything about atmospheric ozone, so he just reported the numbers. It turned out that NASA had evidence of it long before, but they *did* know about atmospheric ozone, so in the pre-processing, they replaced any stupidly low values (which obviously implied a sensor failure) with a sensible (low) value ... which meant that NASA scientists never got to see the hole.

        1. STOP_FORTH
          Big Brother

          We have always been at war with Eurasia

          I can remember reading about a hole in the ozone above the South Pole in New Scientist in about 1973-74.

          I also remember reading that it was first discovered during International Geophysical Year (1956-7).

          I know the newspapers and TV latched onto the topic in the mid-Eighties.

          What exactly is the timeline here?

          People wouldn't have stopped using CFCs until after it was discovered.

          I suspect years or decades of lobbying would have been needed before any action was taken.

          (Big Brother 'cos revision of history.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Scott figures

          "[...] which meant that NASA scientists never got to see the hole."

          On their university course a friend was taught to discard outlier points in the data. IIRC that has masked several situations where the outliers were very significant.

          Any standard algorithm that filters data is only accurate within certain known constraints. When an underlying constraint is broken - people often still regard the results as absolutely true. Many of the so-called "expert" network traffic protocol analysers suffered from that. Only if you could drill down to the actual packets - and understand what was happening - could you see what had fooled them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still feels like we don't have a clue what's going on.

      agreed if "we" refers to you and some of the other posters here.

      Luckily there were other people who did have a clue and cared enough to get change.

      Whilst CFCs were very useful chemicals the damage from there use was too expensive to all of us to be allowed to continue same as lead in petrol, oddly enough I believe both were originally proposed by the same scientist working for GM ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley_Jr. ), which to me was always a classic example of the misused of science and proof that no matter the tool some will always use it against the rest of us.

  7. Danny 2 Silver badge

    The very definition of Blue Skies research

    The British Antarctic Survey discovered the hole just as Thatcher was about to cut their funding.

    [I'm not quite sure how you all got on to school milk, but that was the same Thatcher, Milk Snatcher]

    Anyway, raise a toast to Joe Farman, Brian Gardiner and Jon Shanklin, without their curiosity and tenacity we'd all be toast.

    https://www.bas.ac.uk/media-post/131632/

    Ark

    They sent out a dove: it wobbled home,

    wings slicked in a rainbow of oil,

    a sprig of tinsel snagged in its beak,

    a yard of fishing-line binding its feet.

    Bring back, bring back the leaf.

    They sent out an arctic fox:

    it plodded the bays

    of the northern fringe

    in muddy socks

    and a nylon cape.

    Bring back, bring back the leaf.

    Bring back the reed and the reef,

    set the ice sheet back on its frozen plinth,

    tuck the restless watercourse into its bed,

    sit the glacier down on its highland throne,

    put the snow cap back on the mountain peak.

    Let the northern the lights be the northern lights

    not the alien glow over Glasgow or Leeds.

    A camel capsized in a tropical flood.

    Caimans dozen in Antarctic lakes.

    Polymers rolled in the sturgeon’s blood.

    Hippos wandered the housing estates.

    Bring back, bring back the leaf.

    Bring back the tusk and the horn

    unshorn.

    Bring back the fern, the fish, the frond and the fowl,

    the golden toad and the pygmy owl,

    revisit the scene

    where swallowtails fly

    through acres of unexhausted sky.

    They sent out a boat.

    Go little breaker,

    splinter the pack-ice and floes, nose

    through the rafts and pads

    of wrappers and bottles and nurdles and cans,

    the bergs and atolls and islands and states

    of plastic bags and micro-beads

    and the forests of smoke.

    Bring back, bring back the leaf,

    bring back the river and sea.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The hole won't go completely away

    Best I remember from reading long ago, we don't expect to never have holes in the ozone layer. They should just be smaller. Ozone is created by radiation from the sun hitting the atmosphere, and it does naturally go away. So when the poles go to zero light, they will naturally lose ozone.

  9. gnarlymarley Bronze badge

    sunlight/angle

    UV light hits the atmosphere and create the ozone. This means that the hole can only change if the tilt of the earth is changing. I think I would be more concerned about the wobble changing than I would the ozone hole.

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