Now That Trump Has Defeated Paris, He’s Taking on Montreal!

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From

Sacré bleu !

Trump Budget Attacks Montreal Protocol, Reagan’s Crown Jewel

May 24, 2017 David Doniger

The Trump FY18 budget proposal slashes funding to support compliance with the Montreal Protocol, Ronald Reagan’s treaty to save the ozone layer.

The cut—which appears to be on the order of 40 percent—welches on U.S. international commitments and will imperil the global phase-out of ozone-destroying chemicals.

The Montreal Protocol—widely considered the world’s most successful environmental treaty—was negotiated under President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and is his crowning environmental achievement. It has been strengthened repeatedly under both Republican and Democratic presidents.



This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, the “treaty to save the ozone layer.”  This treaty is often cited as the textbook example of a successful environmental treaty which literally saved the planet at a reasonable cost.  In many ways it is a perfect model for global efforts to save the planet from climate change:

  • Instrumental measurements of the phenomena do not date back far enough to establish natural variability.
  • Measurable mitigation success won’t occur for decades.
  • Unverifiable claims that things would be worse if we hadn’t acted are treated as evidence that the treaty was successful.
  • The threat was hyped.
  • The true economic costs have been blurred.

This excerpt from a Smithsonian Magazine article sums it up quite well:


Rumors of blind sheep—the increased radiation was thought to cause cataracts—and increased skin cancer stoked public fears. “It’s like AIDS from the sky,” a terrified environmentalist told Newsweek’s staff. Fueled in part by fears of the ozone hole worsening, 24 nations signed the Montreal Protocol limiting the use of CFCs in 1987.

These days, scientists understand a lot more about the ozone hole. They know that it’s a seasonal phenomenon that forms during Antarctica’s spring, when weather heats up and reactions between CFCs and ozone increase. As weather cools during Antarctic winter, the hole gradually recovers until next year. And the Antarctic ozone hole isn’t alone. A “mini-hole” was spotted over Tibet in 2003, and in 2005 scientists confirmed thinning over the Arctic so drastic it could be considered a hole.

Each year during ozone hole season, scientists from around the world track the depletion of the ozone above Antarctica using balloons, satellites and computer models. They have found that the ozone hole is actually getting smaller: Scientists estimate that if the Montreal Protocol had never been implemented, the hole would have grown by 40 percent by 2013. Instead, the hole is expected to completely heal by 2050.

Since the hole opens and closes and is subject to annual variances, air flow patterns and other atmospheric dynamics, it can be hard to keep in the public consciousness.

Bryan Johnson is a research chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who helps monitor the ozone hole from year to year. He says public concern about the environment has shifted away from the hole to the ways in which carbon dioxide affects the environment. “There are three phases to atmospheric concerns,” he says. “First there was acid rain. Then it was the ozone hole. Now it’s greenhouse gases like CO2.”

It makes sense that as CFCs phase out of the atmosphere—a process that can take 50 to 100 years—concerns about their environmental impacts do, too. But there’s a downside to the hole’s lower profile: The success story could make the public more complacent about other atmospheric emergencies, like climate change.


Read more: the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Rumors of blind sheep!!!  Drastic measures to eliminate CFC emissions!!!  Thirty years on, the ozone hole has not significantly changed… Although it would have been worse without Montreal (wink, wink) and it will heal by 2050 (nudge, nudge).  This is from NASA’s Ozone Hole Watch page:


Figure 1. The data from 1979-1985 are not compatible with the post-1986 data. The 0 km^2 area in 1979 is fictitious. There has been no significant change in the area or depth of the ozone hole over the period of continuous instrumental measurement (1986-2017).

The annual thinning of the ozone layer over Antarctica has occurred during every Antarctic spring in which anyone was actually trying to measure it and continuous records only date back to 1986.

Ozone in the upper atmosphere is created when UV radiation from the Sun strikes oxygen molecules.  This leads to the creation of ozone.  The ozone layer doesn’t work like sunscreen; it’s more like reactive armor.

Stratospheric ozone is created and destroyed primarily by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The air in the stratosphere is bombarded continuously with UV radiation from the Sun.When high energy UV rays strike molecules of ordinary oxygen (O2), they split the molecule into two single oxygen atoms.The free oxygen atoms can then combine with oxygen molecules (O2) to form ozone (O3) molecules.

O2 + UV light  → 2 O
O + O2 + M → O3 + M (where M indicates conservation of energy and momentum)

The same characteristic of ozone that makes it so valuable – its ability to absorb a range of UV radiation – also causes its destruction. When an ozone molecule is exposed to UV energy it may revert back into O2 and O. During dissociation, the atomic and molecular oxygens gain kinetic energy, which produces heat and causes an increase in atmospheric temperature.


During the Antarctic winter very little sunlight hits the upper atmosphere over Antarctica and the Antarctic polar vortex prevents much in the way of atmospheric mixing between the polar and higher lower latitude air masses.  This leads to an annual depletion of Antarctic ozone from mid-August through mid-October (late winter to mid spring).  As the Antarctic spring transitions to summer, there is more exposure to sunlight and the ozone layer is replenished.

This process has occurred since the dawn of continuous ozone measurements in 1986.  NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory / Global Monitoring Division used to feature a very disingenuous chart on their ozone page.

Figure 2. NOAA ESRL/GMD South Pole Ozone.  This image is no longer available on the NOAA ESRL website.

The image above has been replaced with the following:


Figure 3. NOAA ESRL/GMD. “The red line is the data for the current year and the blue line (if present) is the data for the previous year. The lines and shading follow a progression from bottom to top as the minimum (thin black line), the 10th percentile (light gray shading), 30th percentile (dark gray shading), median (thick black line), 70th percentile (dark gray shading), 90th percentile (light gray shading), and the maximum (thin black line) over the period shown in the lower left corner.” The thin gray line is derived from the 1967-1971 “measurements” in Figure 2.

The NOAA ESRL/GMD charts imply that the annual ozone hole did not exist during an earlier period of measurements from 1967-1971.  This is wrong.  The actual data from 1967-1971 clearly show that the annual ozone hole did exist.  It may have been less pronounced at higher altitudes and it may have bottomed out in September rather than October; but it did exist.  At low altitude (200 MB and 400 MB) it was nearly identical to the present-day…

Figure 4. Comparison of 1967-1971 and 1986-1991 Antarctic ozone (Oltmans et al., 1994)

There are a lot of reasons why earlier measurements differ from the modern data:

  1. The older data were sparsely sampled (1/4 the number of profiles) and the earlier ozonesonde balloons rarely, if ever, reached higher altitudes (40 MB and 25 MB).
  2. Natural climate oscillations.  1967-1971 was during a period of global cooling.  1986-1991 was during a period of global warming.
  3. Fluctuations in the polar vortex.  It has been demonstrated that fluctuations in the polar vortex can influence Antarctic ozone observations (Hassler et al. 2010).
  4. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s).  It is possible that CFC’s did exaggerate the Antarctic ozone hole.  However, the data clearly show that CFC’s did not create it.

Anthropogenic CFC emissions may very well have contributed to the area and depth of the annual Antarctic ozone hole.  Reducing CFC emissions was a good thing.  However, there clearly is no evidence that this was a crisis which required immediate, drastic, global action.  CFC’s could have easily been replaced gradually with substances less hostile to the stratospheric ozone layer.  The panic was so severe, that no cost analysis was even required for the Montreal Protocol.

No estimate of the global cost of replacing CFC-based technology has been made, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the cost in the United States alone would be some $3 billion, mostly for replacing equipment made obsolete or unusable by the ban.

NY Times (1990)

Unsurprisingly, the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimated that the cost in the United States would be more than ten-times the EPA estimate.

The CFC phaseout may well be the single most expensive environmental measure taken to date. During the policy debate, the costs were underemphasized to the point that they never became an important factor. The impact on consumers was scarcely considered. It may be too late to reverse course on the CFC phaseout, but it can serve as a lesson for the future.

CEI (1994)

I have not been able to find any recent estimates of the costs imposed on the U.S. economy by the Montreal Protocol.  However, I know the costs were not insignificant and all of the benefits are either: 1) model-based assumptions and/or 2) 50 years in the future.

The ozone hole panic cost many people a lot of money.  Refrigerating fluids, particularly in automobile air conditioners, had to be replaced.  If you were the owner of a 1980’s motor vehicle or  in need of air conditioner repairs in the 1990’s, you may as well have traded your vehicle in; because the cost of repairs became almost prohibitive due to new environmental regulations related to CFC’s (I owned a 1983 Chevy Camaro back then).  If your home HVAC system was manufactured before the CFC ban, you faced a similar dilemma.   The elimination of CFC’s even drove up the cost of asthma breathalyzers inhalers.  The elimination of CFC’s may have evened worsened AGW!

The economic cost of this particular chapter of environmental junk science was minuscule in comparison to that of the current environmental swindle (anthropogenic global warming)… But this should serve as a clear reminder that citizen scientists have a duty to always check the work of government and academic scientists when they start Chicken Littling about the latest environmental crisis du jour.



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