Science, Technology and Diplomacy Meet in the Ozone Hole Charles Weiss Georgetown School of Foreign Service
STORY LINE: The Rationalist’s Paradigm of Science and Diplomacy
Ozone Issue Identified by Scientists
Scientific Uncertainty Clouds Early Negotiations
Later Scientific Discoveries Confirm
Seriousness of issue
Identification of CFCs as Cause of Problem
Governments and Corporations Act Decisively Only After Ozone Hole Is Discovered
Diplomacy Incorporates Dynamic Science
Situation Improved but Problems Remain
Is This a Precedent for Climate?
First, the Science
The Kinetic Theory of Dilute Gases: A Scientific Model
A Dilute Gas is Mostly Empty Space in which Molecules (Pictured as Tiny Balls) Move Randomly and Fast, Colliding and Bouncing off Each Other with No Chemical Reactions and No Loss of Energy
Air is 80% N 2 , 20% O 2 , plus bits of Argon and CO 2 . Most Collisions are with N 2 or O 2
Molecules Move Faster at Higher Temperature
Collisions with the Walls of the Vessel are Felt as Pressure
F=ma plus Relatively Simple Math ---> PV=nRT (Boyle’s Law) (P 1 V 1 =P 2 V 2 )
A Digression : This “Billiard Ball” Picture is a Model : a “Simplified Representation of a System or Phenomenon, with the Hypothesis Needed for Explanation, Often in Mathematical Form.”
Because of the Assumptions that Went into the Model, Its Domain of Applicability is Limited to Dilute Gases. Similarly, the Validity of Models Used in the Social Sciences Depends on their Purpose and Hence on their Assumptions and the Processes they Include.
Why is the Validity of the Model Limited to Dilute Gases? The Real World is More Complicated than the Description Provided by this Model. Molecules like O 2 , N 2 and H 2 O are Made Up of Atoms that are Made up of Nuclei Surrounded by Clouds of Electrons. But in Dilute Gases, Molecules Spend Most of their Time Far from Each Other, so that This “Fine Structure” Doesn’t Matter.
These Complications Do Matter at Higher Pressures or Lower Temperatures.
Volume of Molecules is No Longer Negligible
Atoms are Spherical but Molecules Aren’t: ( O 2 and N 2 are More Like Dumbbells)
Electron Clouds Deform as Molecules Near Each Other (VanderWaals Forces: Otherwise Gases Wouldn’t Liquefy) So the Model Must be Refined to Take these Facts into Account if You Want to Explain Anything about Liquids. But in the Stratosphere This Doesn’t Matter.
ANOTHER SIMPLIFYING REACTION IS: No Chemical Reactions, Just Energy-Conserving Bounces
In Fact, Some Collisions Can Result in Chemical Reactions
The Rates of these Reactions as a Function of Temperature and Pressure Can be Measured in the Laboratory
(by measuring how the speed of the reaction changes when the concentration of each reactant is varied.)
These Measurements Help Scientists to Estimate the Rate of these Reactions in the Stratosphere
TAKE-HOME MESSAGE : A Model Explores the Implications of a Set of Assumptions as Applied to Available Data. It’s No Better and No Worse than these Assumptions. It’s Designed to be Good Enough to Explain the Desired Observations Make Predictions Similar Limitations Apply to Social Science Models Used to Justify Policy Decisions
The Layers of the Atmosphere
The Stratosphere (~25 Miles Up)
A Dilute Gas, 1/25 as Dense as the Air We Breathe, Temperature -110F
Atmospheric Gas Molecules Speed through Empty Space at ~400 Meters per Second (900 miles/hr -- compared to ~600 m/s [1300 mi/hr] at Room Temp)
Molecules Collide About Every 25 Nanoseconds after Traveling ~10 Microns (100 Diameters -- compared to every 2/3 Nanosecond at room temp & ground level)
(Comparison: Light Travels 1 Foot per Nanosecond.)
Stratospheric Ozone (not ozone smog in the troposphere, which we breathe) Absorbs Low Wavelength (High Energy) Ultraviolet Photons that would (if they reached the surface of the Earth), Damage DNA, Causing Skin Cancer and Disrupting Marine Eco-systems
Stratospheric Photochemistry in Nature (Without Human Intervention)
Stratospheric ozone is naturally formed and destroyed by a series of well understood chemical reactions. Creation and destruction balance, resulting in a stable equilibrium concentration of 0.3 ppm in the atmosphere. (NB: O 2 is 200,000 ppm)
O 2 + UV --> O + O (photolysis into free O atoms)
O + O 2 + N 2 --> O 3 + N 2 (O 3 formation) [N 2 ABSORBS EXCESS ENERGY AND HEATS STRATOSPHERE, BUT IS CHEMICALLY INACTIVE]
O 3 + UV --> O + O 2 (O 3 photolysis)
O + O 3 --> O 2 + O 2
O 3 may be destroyed by other mechanisms, e.g. by NO + O 3 --> NO 2 + O 2
CFCs -- Wonder Chemicals ( CHLOROFLUOROCARBONS)
Invented by Midgeley, who also invented leaded gasoline
Chemical inertness makes possible widespread applications
But long after their invention, scientists discover that all CFCs end up in the stratosphere, where they remain for 100 years!
(CFCs are Heavier than Air, and Travel Upward on Air Currents, not Diffusion.)
CFCs Destroy O 3 by a Catalytic Chain Reaction in the Stratosphere
C 2 Cl 5 F + UV --> Cl + C 2 Cl 4 F in the upper stratosphere [C 2 Cl 5 F is a Generic CFC]
O 3 destroyed: Cl + O 3 --> ClO + O 2
Cl regenerated: ClO + O --> Cl + O 2
Net Effect: O + O 3 --> O 2 + O 2 repeated ~10,000 times
Chain Termination: Cl + NO 2 --> ClONO
Discovery Wins Nobel Prize for Rowland and Molina. There’s No Uncertainty.
This Model Predicts a Change in the Equilibrium ratio of O 2 and O 3 , and the Partial Destruction of Stratospheric Ozone Everywhere in the World ( since Ozone and CFCs Travel and Mix Freely in the Stratosphere All Over the World, with One Exception that we shall Discuss Shortly)
AN ASIDE: Distinguish Among the following:
CFCs Destroy the Stratospheric Ozone Layer (by the Chain Reaction that we discussed)
CFCs Also Cool the Stratosphere by Reducing Ozone Photolysis
i.e., Less Energized N 2 Is Produced Because There’s Less Ozone to Be Photolyzed.
CFCs Are Also Greenhouse Gases and Contribute to Global Warming (to be Discussed Next Lecture) These Are Three Different Phenomena
The Political and Diplomatic Response: ( Science and Diplomacy Advance in Parallel) Science and Diplomacy Advance in Parallel
Response of Government
Oregon and Other States Ban “Non-Essential” Uses of CFCs (Aerosol Propellants)
Details: A Powerful, Irascible and Legendarily Profane Oregon State Legislator Champions Oregon laws through. No one dared oppose him.
He and Midgely each show how One Man can Make a Difference.
Federal Government Follows Some Years Later
Response of Industry:
Dupont Announces that it will Stop Making CFCs if they are Proven Harmful to Human Health.
Dupont Organizes Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy. an Industry Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Alliance Opposes Further CFC Limits on Grounds of Scientific Uncertainty
Limited Basic Research on Stratospheric Photochemistry and Applied Research on Potential Substitutes Begins, but Ends as Issue Fades with Reagan Election
International Negotiations are Inconclusive
Scientific Controversy Complicates Negotiations
Still No Measurement of Global Ozone Loss
Predictions of World-wide Ozone Depletion Bounce Up and Down as Models Improve
Disagreement Over the Right Approach:
Industry: Act When the Science Is Proven
Environmentalists: Take Proactive Measures in Case the Danger Turns Out to Be Real
Even So, NGO and Scandinavian Pressure Leads to the Vienna Convention
Vienna Convention (1985)
Agreement in Principle that Ozone Destruction is a Problem and that the Parties will Limit CFC Production
Broad Framework Agreement to Be Followed by Specific Protocols
Sets Pattern for Future Global Environmental Agreements
Provisions of Vienna Convention (2)
Parties meet regularly as a ‘legislature’ to update the treaty without amending it
Scientific review incorporated into updating process
Government-appointed scientists meet one year in advance to set forth state of scientific understanding
Atmospheric scientists gain political sophistication
‘ Kept’ scientists have trust of government, but attract ridicule if they espouse politically convenient theories outside of mainstream scientific opinion
Precedent: Regular Scientific Review had Earlier been Part of Treaties Concerning Whales and Sea-Going Mammals
NEW SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY An ozone hole over the Antarctic, an area of reduced stratospheric ozone the size of the US, confirms the urgency and the seriousness of the problem, and puts diplomats under pressure to find a solution.
The Ozone Hole in False Color
CFCs are suspected but not proven to be the cause of the ozone hole. A major expedition, organized by NASA, was in the field measuring ClO in the stratosphere to make it possible to choose among several alternative theories, even as diplomats gathered in Montreal to negotiate the first protocol under the Vienna Convention.
The Montreal Protocol
Montreal Negotiations Take Place Despite Scientific Uncertainty
Meta-Analysis of Different Models Shows that Different Projections of Global Ozone Loss are Due to Differing Projections of CFC Production, not to Uncertainty about the Effects of CFCs.
‘ Epistemic Community’ of Scientists, Government Officials, NGO Activists, and Officials of IGOs Speed Consensus by Educating Colleagues and the Public
NGOs Don’t Want to Lose Momentum. Through a ‘Lead Coalition’ of Scandinavian Nations, they Press for Action Even Before the Cause of the Ozone Hole is Definitively Established
Ozone Hole Looms in the Background, but is not Used as an Explicit Justification for Action because of Lack of Proof that CFCs are its Cause.
Provisions of Montreal Protocol
50% Cut in CFC Production and Consumption from 1986 Levels
50% is a Political Compromise with No Scientific Justification
Restricts Trade with Non-Parties
GATT Permits Limits on Trade Linked to Environmental Goals
Special Concessions to Developing Countries (LDCs)
Advanced countries created the problem. Why should LDCs suffer?
But Rapid growth of “Emerging Markets” with Hot Climates (especially India and China) make them a major source of CFCs
Resolution: LDCs are Allowed 10 extra years to comply
Funds from “Global Environmental Facility,” managed by the World Bank, are provided to help LDCs phase out CFCs
A Watershed in International Environmental Agreements -- Hoped to be a Harbinger of Future Trends
Scientific Uncertainty Mixes with Political Differences
Science Sets the Agenda -- but Does Not Dictate the Political Solution
Limits on Free Trade Needed in order to Meet Environmental Goals
Cooperation of LDCs Needed to Meet Global Needs
Epistemic Community Educates the Governments and their Diplomats, but Some Countries Have to Take the Lead.
After the Montreal Protocol is Negotiated, The Ozone Hole is Explained
POLAR STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS
Newly Discovered Mechanism Proves CFCs Cause Ozone Hole
Chlorine (Cl 2 ) and hypochlorous acid (HOCl, the active ingredient in Clorox), formed by chemical reactions, accumulate during winter darkness on the surface of tiny ice crystals that make up polar stratospheric clouds
Dawn’s light in Antarctic spring releases atomic chlorine (Cl) that leaves the ice (desorbs) and activates the chain reaction that destroys ozone
Cl lasts until ice crystals melt because the usual chain terminator (NO 2 ) is trapped on the surface of the ice as ionized nitric acid (H + and NO 3 - )
Cl Generation in Antarctic Stratosphere
Cl 2 + light ---> Cl + Cl
HOCl + light ---> HO + Cl -- feeding Cl into the ozone-destroying chain reaction: O 3 destroyed: Cl + O 3 --> ClO + O 2
Cl regenerated: ClO + O --> Cl + O 2
Net Effect: O + O 3 --> O 2 + O 2 repeated many more than 100,000 times and producing the ‘ozone hole’
A Digression for All You Chemists: O, Cl, OH and ClO are Free Radicals with Unsatisfied Valences. They are Very Reactive, and Last only a Few Collisions, after which They Disappear in the Chemical Reactions we Discussed.
Response to Definitive Scientific Evidence
Dupont agrees to stop CFC manufacture
Dupont could have profited from stonewalling but elected to honor their previous commitment
They also realized that CFC substitutes would be a business opportunity
“ London Revisions” (1990) speed CFC phase-out
Halons and other chemicals included in the restrictions
Where Are We Now? and What Lessons Have We Learned?
A Remarkable Diplomatic Achievement
CFC Production is Down in Advanced Countries
Substitutes have been found for almost all CFC uses (despite early fears that they were irreplaceable)
Ozone Hole Hasn’t Grown, and may be Beginning to Decrease
Future Disappearance of Ozone Hole Depends on Degree of Compliance
But Problems Remain
Smuggling of CFCs Is Highly Profitable
China and India Have Begun Rapid Economic Growth in Economy and in CFC Production
It’s Hot and People Want Refrigerators and Air Conditioners
Many Late Payers to the Global Environmental Facility
CFCs and Other Ozone Destroyers Must Be Controlled for 50-60 Years Before Stratospheric Ozone Levels Recover
Lessons from Ozone Experience
Boundary blurs between public and private, business and government, domestic and international issues
Review of scientific evidence is an essential part of the diplomatic process in environmental agreements
US Leadership is Essential
What is the Presumed Value of the Treaty Process?
Negotiation of an environmental treaty educates governments, prods the recalcitrant, exposes spurious scientific arguments to peer review
Ratification and implementation of an environmental treaty builds confidence, establishes commercial standards, stimulates new technical solutions, builds technical and administrative capacity -- but this may collapse when costs become apparent and opposition counter-attacks (Kyoto, Oslo)
The Ozone Treaty: a Precedent for Dealing With Climate Change? YES
Science Adds New Problems to the Diplomatic Agenda; Scientists Gain Diplomatic Savvy
Epistemic Community Educates Governments and International Organizations
Policy Mixes Science, Diplomacy and Politics
Bargaining, Not Science, Controls Outcome
But Science Weighs in at Critical Moments
Corporations, NGOs and Public Opinion Play Critical Roles
The Ozone Treaty: a Precedent for Dealing With Climate Change? YES
Public Opinion is Critical to Political Outcomes
Environmental Treaties Must Be Updated As Experience Unfolds and Scientific Understanding Improves
Scientific Report Now Precedes Major Environmental Negotiations
International Secretariat Monitors CFC Phase-Out and Size of Ozone Hole
Precautionary Action May Be Justified Even Before Scientific Proof Is Complete
The Ozone Treaty: a Precedent for Dealing With Climate Change? NO
Clear-cut Scientific Conclusions Are NOT Typical of Environmental Issues
Ozone Decision Was Easier Because There Were Few Manufacturers, Limited Market
Climate Change Involves Comprehensive Change in the World’s Style of Living: Huge Economic Stakes
Political Climate Changes in 2000 as US Turns Against Multilateral Regimes
Climate Change Unfolds Differently :
Huge Corporate Counter-Attack, Inventing or Exaggerating Scientific Uncertainty in order to Forestall Action
US Government Ignores Scientific Consensus; Major Disagreement on Objectives Blocks UN Action
Europe, US States and Multinational Corporations Take the Lead in Establishing Cap-and-Trade Systems, Researching Conservation and Alternative Energy Sources
Climate Change as ‘Post-Normal Science’
Driven by Policy Issues
Hard Political Problem
Values in Dispute
High Uncertainty in the Science
Scientific Consensus Proves Vulnerable to Counter-Attack
Two New Concepts
Sustainable Development Development Should NOT Take Place at the Expense of Future (Human) Generations ‘Deep Ecologists’ Argue that Humans Have No Special Moral Status
Medium and Long Term Consequences Matter
An Important Corrective: Both Politics and Economics Tend to Ignore the Long Term
Short Election Cycle in Democracies
Bureaucrats Change Jobs Often, Aren’t Accountable
Most Economic Models Do Not Address Long-Term Effects
Cost/Benefit Analysis Uses Discounting Techniques that Essentially Neglect Long-Term Effects
Growth Theory Assumes that Future Generations will be Better Off than We Are.
Philosophical Reluctance to Think Long-Term
‘ What Have Future Generations Ever Done for Me?’
‘ The Long Term is After Lunch.’
‘ Life is Short: Eat Dessert First.’
The Precautionary Principle (or Approach)
‘ Weak’ Precaution : Lack of Scientific Evidence Does Not Preclude Action to Protect the Environment If Damage Would Otherwise be Serious and Irreversible (Note Triple Negative.)
To Act in the Face of Uncertainty Is a Normal Situation in Policy Matters! It Just Seems Abnormal to Scientists!
‘ Strong’ Precaution : Action Should be Taken in the Absence of Firm Scientific Evidence!
The Precaution Principle (2)
Think Before You Act in order to Prevent or Minimize Risk, Rather Than Retrofit After It Has Occurred
AVOID TECHNOLOGY LOCK-IN
Consider Alternative Paths to Your Objective, and Choose the Least Risky
Burden of Proof Shifts to Polluters
Development Doesn’t Get Priority
Ecology Has Intrinsic Value
Monitoring and Research Are Needed
Affected Parties Should Be Notified
E uropeans Regard the Precautionary Principle as Customary International Law; the US is Resisting. (Definition: Customary International Law is Law that States Obey in the Belief that they have to, even in the Absence of a Treaty)
But What Level of Certainty Justifies Action?
‘ Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’?
‘ Clear and Convincing Evidence’?
‘ Clear Indication’?
‘ Preponderance of the Evidence’?
‘ Reasonable Belief’?
‘ Reasonable Indication’?
‘ Reasonable Suspicion’?
Hunch? Groundless Fear?
More Generally, What Action Should be Taken at What Cost, and What Level of Benefits Foregone, in order to Avoid Uncertain Long-Term Damage?
The Precautionary Principle (PP) Values Harms and Risks More than Benefits, an Old Ethical Issue
PP Reflects Distrust of the Promoters of Products and Projects
Inaction, too, May Have its Costs. The Relative Risks of Action and Inaction Must be Weighed.
Zambia Refused to Accept Genetically Modified Corn that it Needs to Avert Starvation
Take-Home Message on Precaution
Precaution is not a Specifically European Idea. Precaution is Built into American Laws on Environment and Public Health.
The Precaution Principle is a Blunt Instrument It is Often Used as a Vehicle for Political and Economic Pressures, Both to Derail Unwise Projects and to Block Desirable Innovations.
The Precautionary Principle Can be a Useful Counter-Balance to Pressure (Often from Enthusiasts or Strong Vested Interests) to Take Unnecessary Technological Risks.