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The Media Science

Your Thoughts on the Great Ozone Debate? 719

Posted by Cliff
from the environmentally-unsound dept.
Hrodvitnir asks: "Yesterday the BBC reported that the hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic is the largest on record. Today CNN says that it is recovering, or at least stabilized. Do we really know what's going on? Is this more bad science/false studies, or are they both partially right?"
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Your Thoughts on the Great Ozone Debate?

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  • Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Freexe (717562) <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:11PM (#13456364) Homepage
    They're both partially.
    • Well, sort of (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:31PM (#13456636) Homepage
      The articles linked are both right in some sense, the article submission is wrong... the slashdot summary here says the 2005 hole is the "the largest on record", the BBC article it links says it is the largest on record since 2000, which was the actual all-time record...
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Informative)

      by lightyear4 (852813) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:34PM (#13456677) Homepage

      Both are completely right. An elaboration: Wheras the CNN article discusses the stabilization of ozone depletion, the BBC article discusses the size of the Antarctic ozone hole. The BBC piece says, in not so many words, that the size of the ozone depleted region was largest in 2000 and 2003, owing to biennial-ish seasonal fluctuations and weather conditions. The hole might be of similar size THIS year as well for the same reasons. However, to quote from the very same BBC article:

      • Two years ago researchers produced the first evidence that damage to the ozone layer is slowing down; globally, they showed, destruction continues, but at a slower rate than before.
        That is down to the Montreal Protocol, established in 1987, which has limited production and use of CFCs and related substances.
        But the indications are that the ozone layer will not be back to its pre-industrial condition for at least another 50 years.

      So then, both articles do indeed agree. They were not referring to separate conclusions on the same issue, but instead to different facets of the same phenomenon.
  • by suso (153703) *
    Does the hole over the antarctic have anything to do with the fact that there is no or very little plan vegetation down there? I guess if so the same hole might be over the arctic. But still, why does the hole end up over a magnetic pole?
    • by RealityMogul (663835) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:15PM (#13456429)
      Its because oxygen is heavier that ozone, so it falls to the bottom of the earth and displaces the ozone.
    • by mOoZik (698544) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:16PM (#13456440) Homepage
      The reason they end up over the poles is because that's where the offending particles end up. To read about why this is so, visit here: Ozone Hole [coolantarctica.com].
    • "But still, why does the hole end up over a magnetic pole?" I thought the general theory was centripetal action.
    • Does the hole over the antarctic have anything to do with the fact that there is no or very little plan vegetation down there? I guess if so the same hole might be over the arctic. But still, why does the hole end up over a magnetic pole? No it doesn't. The ozone is created by the sun's rays hitting the earth's atmosphere. During this time of year there are fewer rays hitting the South Pole. Less rays, less ozone. No big deal.
    • But still, why does the hole end up over a magnetic pole?

      Its not a matter of magnetism, but sunlight. Ozone forms in the upper atmosphere as a result of sunlight striking oxygen in the air. The atmosphere north of the arctic and south of the antarctic circles is largely blocked from sunlight during the winter.

      Ozone's not a very stable molecule, so without the energy input from sunlight to form ozone, ozone tends to break down and become ordinary O2 again.

      -jcr
    • No (Score:3, Informative)

      by vlad_petric (94134)
      The ozone layer actually has nothing to do with plants. It is continually produced by solar radiation and oxygen, and it is also continually "consumed". O3 is heavier than air, so it falls down in the lower atmosphere. However, things like CFCs are very effective at catalytically breaking down ozone into regular oxygen (1 molecule of CFC will break thousands of ozone molecules). The stratospheric clouds during the polar winter just happen to have a higher concentration of CFCs.

      BTW, did you know that becau

    • Stratospheric ozone (O3) and O2 exist in an equilibrium, constantly being converted to and from one another by reaction with UV light. Free chlorine in the stratosphere in the presence of a substrate like SO2 or PSCs (polar stratospheric clouds) can "tilt" the equilibrium toward O2 (O3 + Cl- => O2 + ClO). The Antarctic has a far more extensive PSC layer because of its larger cold air mass relative to the Artic, thus the ozone hole there is larger even though most sources of stratospheric Cl are in the
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by slavemowgli (585321) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:12PM (#13456375) Homepage

    Let's see who we have:

    The BBC: one of the most highly-respected independent news organisations in the world.

    CNN: an outlet for political propaganda, thanks to Ted Turner.

    Who are you going to believe?

    • Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

      by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking @ y a h o o . c om> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:14PM (#13456410) Homepage Journal
      Fox! After all, they're fair and balanced!
      • Re:Easy... (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Ahhh, good old Fox. The news channel that decided to give me a good 5 minute long update on the movie filming that had to stop in New Orleans rather than let me know about what was really happening there...
      • Re:Easy... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rei (128717)
        Fox *is* balanced. The problem is that the fulcrum is shifted way to the right.
    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > Who are you going to believe?

      Depends on how it's 'launched' or how often it's repeated.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Solr_Flare (844465) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:18PM (#13456465)
      I've yet to find a single media source that isn't biased. And yes, the BBC is very biased, so is CNN, Fox News, and yup even slashdot. That's why intelligent viewers look deeper into the stories presented to them, or use multiple sources of information(something they teach you in grade school..or at least did when I was growing up).
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:23PM (#13456537)
      CNN: an outlet for political propaganda, thanks to Ted Turner.

      You've got several problems with that.

      1) Turner is notably liberal and, if you are right with your stereotypical thinking, would be more likely to report damage to the environment than that it's getting better, but CNN is reporting the opposite.

      2) It seems you didn't RTFA, at least the CNN article. Note that it cites a NOAA report.

      There have been many reports, even discussed and linked to on here, about how scientists in the Bush administration are constantly forced to alter reports to fit the views of the administration. Since this administration says everything is okay, there is no need to worry, it is only expected to see a report issued from a branch of the US gov. to agree with that statement.
      • by Elder Entropist (788485) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:54PM (#13456886)
        3) Ted Turner hasn't been intimately involved in what goes on with CNN for a decade (he sold CNN in 1995) and conservative Walter Isaacson moved the network very much to the right when he took over in 2001.
        • ... and Jonathan Klein moved it further to the right when he took over CNN U.S. last fall, pumped by the fact the right wing swept the elections and tightened their grip on power.

          Fact is America is moving to the right or at least the right has conned everyone in to think it is. CNN has been getting killed by Fox in cable news ratings so they had two options, try to be completely unlike Fox and try to find an audience or try to be like Fox. Unfortunately they chose the later leading to a situation in which
    • Very important (Score:3, Insightful)

      by beldraen (94534)
      A big problem with listen to any debate is the understand that while people who are talking are equal, their knowledge is not necessarily equal. For any subject you can find, you can easily find ten people arguing on one side and ten on another. In the end, it comes down to two possibilities: Global warming is happening, global warming is not happening.

      Unfortunately, America has lost responsibility in the press. It used to be about finding and reporting facts. Now it is about finding both sides to argue
  • not THAT unusual (Score:2, Informative)

    by Afecks (899057)
    The hole is a seasonal ozone hole over the South Pole. It comes and goes, sometimes it's bigger than usual. This has been used by environmentalists since the 80's to scare people.
    • Re:not THAT unusual (Score:3, Interesting)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      Nevertheless, three quarters of the carbon dioxide that has been pumped into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution is still there. Sooner or later, the chickens will come home to roost.
      • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:46PM (#13456801) Homepage
        Carbon Dioxide has no impact on the ozone hole.

        The ozone hole, which this article is about, is not connected to the separate problem of global climate change as a result of human-produced greenhouse gases. The ozone hole is also a problem which is easier to deal with; the CFCs and particles which cause ozone layer damage fall out of the atmosphere much faster than carbon dioxide.
      • by Ingolfke (515826) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:55PM (#13456898) Journal
        the chickens will come home to roost.

        Sir, it is highly unlikely that chickens will ever roost in the Arctic or Antarctic. Not only could they not withstand the extreme climate they do not have the ability to fly the hundreds of miles over open ocean that would be required to make it to either of those regions. Furthermore chickens are not indigenous to either the Arctic or the Antarctic so they would never "come home" to roost as neither of those regions could be properly called "The Home of Chickens". Your science, sir, is all a shambles. Disgraceful... disgraceful.
  • not all sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solosaint (699000)
    i dont think we know all there is to know yet, but i have to think that much of what man has done has had some effect
  • no one has a clue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hsmith (818216) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:14PM (#13456409)
    The ones that think we are harming the earth and the ones that think we aren't

    neither side have any idea what is going on with the earth.

    the earth will be fine, now and long after humans are wiped from the planet. are we speeding up that process? maybe, maybe not.
    • And this really gets to the heart of the matter. The entire "save the planet" movement is really "save the humans." The Earth will be fine long after we're gone...
    • by Nasarius (593729)
      neither side have any idea what is going on with the earth.

      Yes, we do. The chemical reactions that result in CFCs depleting ozone are well understood. If you didn't sleep through freshman chemistry, you probably learned about that, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, etc. It's all perfectly valid science.

      If you want to debate global warming, that's a separate issue. There is no doubt that humans have done significant damage to the ozone layer.

    • the earth will be fine, now and long after humans are wiped from the planet.

      I agree completely. We couldn't wipe out life on earth if we dedicated all our efforts to it. It's that last part that I'm worried about.

      That we don't know, and some people think that's the same as us being safe and not needing to change anything, is what scares me. We need to know. And in the give and take of "maybe, maybe not" there's a lot to say "maybe" and therefore a lot to say we are screwing ourselves by doing nothing an

    • the earth will be fine, now and long after humans are wiped from the planet
      Yeah, the earth will probably go on its merry way oblivious to the "damage" humans inflict upon it. I think the point of understanding this phenomenon is to prevent the "humans are wiped from the planet" bit from happening sooner than later, particularly due to our own actions.

      But if the earth somehow can and does care, I think it'd rather be rid of us sooner....
  • It stopped growing, but it's still the largest on earth.

    Ta-da! :D
  • by Bob3141592 (225638) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:15PM (#13456419) Homepage
    Bad science? More likely bad reporting. The public likes their news in small, easilly digested sound bites, but something as complex as environmental policy issues don't fit that template. So one scientific paper says the ozone hole isn't as big as before (even if the previous case was a record breaker) and the press says that things are recovering. That's just misleading.

    What we need are better educated reporters. And a better educated public. But I'm not holding my breath for that, no matter how polluted the air is.
  • by October_30th (531777) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:16PM (#13456437) Homepage Journal
    As long as you don't have a consensus on the facts, you assume and act according to the worst case scenario.
    • The worst case scenario: Any possible source of carbon dioxide or methane is a significant danger to the environment.

      Solution: Exterminate all non-plant life on this planet, for the good of the ozone.
  • RTFA (closely) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldWolf (20476) <`jeffrankine' `at' `netscape.net'> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:16PM (#13456442)
    The fourth paragraph of the BBC article says:

    "There have been signs over the last two years that damage to the ozone layer has reduced, but a full recovery is not expected until around 2050."

    Sounds like the same thing CNN is saying to me.

  • Easy...... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:17PM (#13456444)
    The earth has been here for millions of years....

    Scientists measuring the ozone layer have only been here for about 30 years.

    Real measurement for 30 years verses millions of years of unknown history.

    Extrapolation is easy if you really don't care.
    • Re:Easy...... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:58PM (#13456936)
      The earth has been here for millions of years....

      Scientists measuring the ozone layer have only been here for about 30 years.

      Real measurement for 30 years verses millions of years of unknown history.


      Hmm...now if only we had some sort of material that could trap gasses at the poles and would accrete at a predictable pace hence saving samples of historical atmosphere. Possibly something that starts as a liquid but ends up as a solid?
    • Re:Easy...... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Morinaga (857587)
      As is true with all relative statistics people need to look at what they are relative to. I think most educated persons know that statistics at face value don't mean much until you investigate how they were collected.

      To be even more specific to this study it's important for casual observers to understand that this data has only been collected since 1995. It's much sexier in a news report to say that, "This is one of the largest ozone holes in the past decade". That sells papers, gets people to pay atte

  • Another Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:17PM (#13456451)

    Here's a good link [spaceref.com] to the story...quite a bit of detail not present in either article cited in the submission.

    Interesting that the sources that hold that the hole is gtting worse are European, while the sources that state everything's OK are American.....hmm....
  • political agenda (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minus_273 (174041) <`moc.oohay.MAPS' `ta' `aaaaa'> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:18PM (#13456466) Journal
    It really depends on what the political agenda of the person writing the story/the station is. On one hand the intention might be to make Bush look bad in which case, it is the biggest ever. On the other side, reduce panic and therefore say its recovering. If cnn said it was the biggst ever, they migth be accused of scaremongering.

    Go look at some stories on democratic underground and you will see stories saying that Bush was responsible for hurricanes because of global warrming and a ton of "scientists" backing that. Look on michael moore.com and cindy sheehan has a post about jews who took soldiers away for war in iraq and not being here to stop the looting ( hello posse comitatus) in New Orleans.

    My point, "News" is basically the blog of some reporter with about as much factual basis behind it. (See jason blair)
    • I'll bite (a little) (Score:3, Informative)

      by shis-ka-bob (595298)
      There are serious (peer reviewed) articles from NOAA (see http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/reference/bibliography/2 0 04/tk0401.pdf [noaa.gov] and references in it, for example ) that certainly make for a plausible correlation between rising CO2 levels and increasingly severe hurricanes. It is quite a stretch to blame this on GW personally. But his administration is doing practically everything in its power to deny global warming and to delay any action that may be harmful to economics interests. I think he is placing himse
  • In the BBC article, it states that this year's hole is "ONE OF the largest on record". It also states that the ones in 2000 and 2003 are still the largest on record. This year's could get larger, sure, but we won't know for sure for a few weeks.
  • by Leknor (224175) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:19PM (#13456484)
    This is another case of science being used to push an agenda. Is the "hole" there, sure, I'll take their word for it. If I really cared I could establish if that fact was true or not. Everything after that fact is opinion and probably biased. Some people may believe it's a problem and will change the earth for the worse forever. Other people may believe it's part of the natural evolution of the earth which may lead to a new great era. Others may believe it's part of Intelligent Design so it must be implicitly good. Who is right? Probably none of the above. My opinion is that the effects will be both bad and good. It's part of life, learn to deal with change.
  • BBC: They show that the Antarctic ozone hole was larger in mid-August this year than at the same period in any year since 2000.

    Not the biggest depletion ever, just the largest in five years.
  • tan (Score:2, Funny)

    by daddyrief (910385)
    I, for one, could use the extra sun. Being a nerd, I'm pretty white.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:21PM (#13456510) Homepage Journal
    This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with bias in media. The real question is who is lying and who is telling the truth? My money is on the folks who say global warming is happening because they have quantifiable data to back their claims up. The people who are opposed to those findings have yet to produce reliable proof. But getting back to the question at hand, where does the bias come from? The news media corporations have many companies behind them. And those companies have investors backing them financially expecting a return on their investment. And not just a reasonable return, but unrealistic expectations. This drives those parent companies to cover their asses every which way as long as whatever they are doing makes a profit. They could be putting newborn babies in crash test simulators and if there was a tidy profit to be made from it, they'd do it and then try to hide the fact that they're doing it. Meanwhile, the media companies that they control aren't going to leak a word of the story because the parent company could shoot them down permanently. It's gotten out of hand and I suggest that some people at the tops of many corporations need to be handled in the way that Pat Robertson suggested that Hugo Chavez be handled. ;P Seriously. All the investors need to put down the crack pipes and realize that they are indirectly responsible for a lot of really rotten things. Don't just bury your head in the sand. Accept the fucking responsibility.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:26PM (#13456577) Journal
    So, the ozone layer is stabilizing... meaning that it is shrinking by less each year. It's still shrinking, however, so the hole will continue to grow for a bit.

    Also, there is a 26-month cycle for equatorial winds that affects the size of the Antarctic hole, so there's a quasi-biennial cycle to the ozone layer hole.

    So, the only question is, how do you want to spin it?

    The hole is still getting bigger. We need to step up pollution controls. Or

    Nothing to see here, the hole is stabilizing at it's current size and we expect it to go back to normal within 50 years, so our current ozone-depleting-compound-pollution policies are fine.

    Are we doing the best we can in re: O3 layer? No.

    Do we need to do better? I dunno, and apparently, neither does anyone else.
  • The vast preponderence of human activity is in the Northern hemisphere, and there's relatively little atmospheric exchange between the hemispheres.

  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:27PM (#13456594) Homepage
    I'm not exactly sure what the article submitter is trying to imply or ask?

    The submitter seems to be trying to say that the BBC and CNN articles contradict one another. However, this isn't the case at all. The BBC article is talking about the size of this year's hole; CNN seems to be talking about the size of the hole in a more general over-years sense. CNN is saying that the ozone hole is levelling off in a long-term sense; the BBC is talking about year-to-year fluctuations. The BBC itself even says: There have been signs over the last two years that damage to the ozone layer has reduced, but a full recovery is not expected until around 2050, seeming to support the CNN article.

    Moreover, the article submission is misleading. The submission says the 2005 is the largest on record. The BBC says the 2005 hole is one of the largest on record. The BBC itself says: They show that the Antarctic ozone hole was larger in mid-August this year than at the same period in any year since 2000. The 2000 ozone hole was still larger than this year's hole!

    CFCs take a certain amount of time to fall out of the atmosphere, and the damage they cause lasts a certain amount of time beyond that. There is no sign in the news here that the Montreal protocol is anything but working; we're jolting back and forth within a certain area but at least the ozone hole is no longer getting worse constantly.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:30PM (#13456626)
    I predict that the ozone layer will vanish one day, not because of first world countries, but because third world countries dont have the cash for the more expensive ozone-friendly chemicals.

    When that happens, a whole bunch of people are going to die from skin cancer and/or will go blind from cataracts, while the survivors who are more resistant to UVs will procreate.

    I'd give anything to be around at that time, only to see how the creationism/evolution debate turns out.
  • It doesn't matter... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CptNerd (455084) <adiseker@lexonia.net> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:33PM (#13456657) Homepage
    .. since It's All Bush's Fault(tm)

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:39PM (#13456731) Journal
    The CNN article (actually Reuters, but hey...) refers to "Wednesday's issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research." So, going back to google, one discovers that abstracts from the JGR are available... [agu.org]

    Statistical trend analyses have been performed for monthly zonal average total ozone data from both TOMS and SBUV satellite sources and ground-based instruments over the period 1978-2002 for detection of a "turnaround" in the previous downward trend behavior and hence evidence for the beginning of an ozone recovery. Since other climatic and geophysical changes can impact ozone behavior and can influence the detection of turnaround and recovery, we also focus on accounting for ozone variations that may be ascribed to various physical and chemical influences. Thus we include in the statistical trend modeling and analysis the effects of various dynamical and circulation variations in the atmosphere, including those associated with the quasibiennial oscillation (QBO), Arctic Oscillation (AO) and Antarctic Oscillation (AAO), and Eliassen-Palm (EP) flux influences, as well as influences of solar cycle. A notable result of the analysis is that for latitude zones of 40 and above in both hemispheres, large positive and significant estimates of a change in trend (since 1996) are obtained (on the order of 1.5 to 3 DU per year). The dynamic index series, AO/AAO and EP flux, are found to have a substantial influence on total ozone for these higher latitudes, and significant influences of lesser magnitude are also found for lower latitudes. The feature of positive significant change in trend in total ozone over recent years, however, is obtained both without and with the dynamical index terms included in the statistical models.


    source [agu.org]

    The bbc article, unfortunately, is a bit harder to track down...
  • Who do you trust? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kjs3 (601225) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:43PM (#13456776)
    I'm not familiar with this issue in particular, but BBC > CNN for essentially all values of news.
  • No, we don't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:50PM (#13456846)

    Do we really know what's going on?

    No.

    There, that was easy. Now, as I read somewhere around here the other day, science is not truth nor is it fact. It's a method that attempts to discern both of those things. It's a good method and as time goes on the results of our discoveries show in the things we build and the advancement of our society. So before I continue, I'm not anti-science and have no desire to be branded as some sort of Bible thumper. (Which seems to be the title given to anyone who dares question the perfection of our holy scientists.)

    The problem is that humans (whether religious zealots or scientific zealots) rarely want to admit they're on the path to truth. They want to say they've found it, they know what it is and that's all she wrote. No one wants to say that they're trying when they can say that they're successful and make a really big deal out of it. For instance:

    • "The earth is getting cooler. We're heading straight for a new ice age! We have to cut our pollution!"
    • "The earth is getting hotter. It's global warming! We're all gonna fry if we don't stop polluting!"
    • "We are all vile sinners. We're heading straight for hell! Repent and accept Jesus or you'll burn!"

    People who defend sensational scientific beliefs are just as contradictory as religious nuts. When they're talking about evolution they point to the fact that the changes and cycles take thousands and thousands of years. Geological changes? Even longer. Nature, as a whole moves in very slow patterns and makes very slow changes. It's not in a hurry. However, suddenly we analyse weather for what... 100 years? 200 years? We pluck out a pinhole sized chunk of a 4,000,000,000 year old pie and think that it really tells us anything that's truly long term?

    I really love George Carlin's routine on the environment. He make a single statement that really brings it all into focus. Are humans so arrogant that we think we can destory the earth let alone save it?

    I have a pretty simple policy on whether or not I believe a particular scientific theory/"discovery" and it works like this: If a "discovery" is made that yields cool new gadgets that improve my quality of life (TV, computers, polyester, bath puffs) then I believe it. If a "discovery" is heavily debated and spends a lot of time coming out of the mouths of the far left and/or the far right, I can usually ignore it and move on with my life. Politically pushed and motivated science is the worst kind. In an ironic twist, science should be scientifically motivated.

    Stop telling me we know how everything works or that our methods are perfect and all that's left is time and discovery. In 250 years they're going to poke as much fun at what we know now as we do the science of 1750. Our medicine will be viewed as barbaric and primitive and our ideas on things like quantum physics will be viewed as remedial at best. In fact, with the speed discoveries are made now, the gap may be even bigger in 250 years. Again, this doesn't mean everything we know is bogus, it just means you shouldn't treat it like the be all end all.

    Use science as a guide and use it to the best of your abilities. However, putting the level of faith in sensational theories that fundamentalists put in a literal 7 day (24 hours a day) creation of the world really isn't any better.

    Scientifically, we're moving in the right direction. We're doing our best. However, deal with the fact that a lot of so-called "science" is politically motivated bullshit. Also deal with the fact that some things that we hold dear now are going to be discarded as we learn more about the universe and its laws and mechanics. With the exception of spotting a huge space object heading for the planet, doomsday science can be summarily ignored.

    • Re:No, we don't. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by king-manic (409855) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @03:14PM (#13457099)
      People who defend sensational scientific beliefs are just as contradictory as religious nuts. When they're talking about evolution they point to the fact that the changes and cycles take thousands and thousands of years.

      While I largely agree with most the rest of yrou post, I have to point out that evolution does not need thousands of years. You can observe it's action in 3-7 generations. You don't need a thousand years unless yoru species reproduces very slowly and lives 150 or more years.

      Scientifically, we're moving in the right direction. We're doing our best. However, deal with the fact that a lot of so-called "science" is politically motivated bullshit. Also deal with the fact that some things that we hold dear now are going to be discarded as we learn more about the universe and its laws and mechanics. With the exception of spotting a huge space object heading for the planet, doomsday science can be summarily ignored.


      Unfortunately it can't all be ignored. While it is a small sample and the information is very localized in the time spectrum... it's all we got, we have to make the best decisions we can with what is available. If it happens to be well supported but wrong, we waste a few billion dollars and some things improve when they didn't have to. If it is right, we're fucked. Given those two options I say take moderate steps in the direction that is supported instead of ignoring it because we lack sufficient datapoints. Find out what is generally supported and make a reasonable pollicy accordingly.
    • Re:No, we don't. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @03:44PM (#13457370)
      We do know how some things work. We do know that CFCs destroy Ozone. That's a fact. Test it out in the lab all you like. There are other variables once the chemicals get into the atmosphere like the rate of ozone produced or where the CFCs travel to exactly, or if they can be destroyed or precipitated, etc. but chemical reactions are easy enough to test in the lab. .

      However, suddenly we analyse weather for what... 100 years? 200 years?

      Several tens of thousands, thanks to ice core samples. It's possible to gather data on events that happened before recorded history. It may not be perfectly accurate, but it's better than nothing. And even in our lifetime, we've altered the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Models based on past climate changes have been horrible at predicting future climate changes, but that doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and make no decisions whatsoever, or that we're inevitably safe.

      Whether or not there's a political debate around a scientific assertion should be irrelevant to the weight of validity that you assign to it. For example, the insurance industustries try to play down the health risks of mold so they don't have to cover mold-ridden houses (which would be incredibly expensive.) But talk to any microbiologist and they'll tell you just what mold can do to you.

      Politics is a pretty poor barometer of the truth or falsity of an assertion, I agree. We need to make our decisions based on evidence rather than political ideology. But while politics shouldn't be involved in sciences science should be involved in politics. Or should we just go with our gut feelings?

      Will our medicine be considered primitive in the future? I'm sure. Honestly, who said otherwise?

      I, for one, would like to see rapid identification of bacterial infections and greater reliance on bacteriophage (viruses which kill bacteria) so that normal intestinal flora are not destroyed. This would allow treating people with only mildly harmful infections, since the side effects of treatment (potential fungal overgrowth, C. Difficile infection, etc.) would not be as bad.

      Our techniques for rapidly and cheaply diagnosing pathogens right now are piss poor, and as they improve we'll be able to give very specific, effective treatments with fewer side effects.

      Even our legal system could be making better utilization of science. All people have certain mostly benign viruses in them, which are often sexually transmitted. If a court case came up where one person claimed they were raped and another denied doing it, sexual involvement could be demonstrated by showing the two people had a similar set of viruses in their body. Mutation rates of the more steady portions of the virus might be useful for determining the relative date of the event (good for divorce trials, too.)
      Of course, more than one virus would have to be used.

      Stop telling me we know how everything works or that our methods are perfect and all that's left is time and discovery. In 250 years they're going to poke as much fun at what we know now as we do the science of 1750.

      Who, exactly, has been telling you that they know how everything works?

      With the exception of spotting a huge space object heading for the planet, doomsday science can be summarily ignored.

      So the harm attributed to pesticide usage, lead in the water pipes and in face paint, poor food quality standards, and sexual pandemics... these are just phantoms of our imagination? I'm sure you can think of more.

      Sometimes science does identify real threats. And it requires a political movement to get the law to recognize those threats.

      The thing is, no matter how little information we have, we still have to make decisions based on that information or else confusion and indecision will paralyze us, socially, scientifically, and politically.
  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:57PM (#13456917) Homepage
    You see, the BBC article quotes data taken from European satellites, where as the CNN article quotes data taken from American satellites.

    It is clearly a problem with the European satellites.

  • by jpellino (202698) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @04:37PM (#13457985)
    In science, you can make two broad sorts of errors.
    - you can fail to find something that's really there, and suffer from its effect,
    - or you can find something that's not there, and suffer from spending time/effort/money/angst/blather on it needlessly.

    In this instance, we'll could miss figuring out the ozone and suffer the consequences. If that happens, we'll need to make more ozone.

    Or we could be wrong about the perceived ozone problem. If that happens. we'll need to make more time/effort/money/angst/blather.

    I'm guessing it's going to be easier to come up with replacements for time/effort/money/angst/blather than it will be to order up some replacement ozone.

    That's based on our existing experience with replacing resources. This year, between the tsunami and Katrina, we'll be seeing what happens when entire cities, including a modern first-world one, have to be brought back to functioning literally stick by stick, brick by brick.
  • by JollyFinn (267972) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @06:53PM (#13459284)
    Its the basic thing there is american news organisation giving objective information, while rest of the worlds news agencies gives simply blatant false information on their self interest that is contradiction to American political interest. Its something that everything that is published about pollution and atmosphere its the same thing. The rest of the world has VERY bad bias in there.

Information is the inverse of entropy.

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