I while ago I wrote on John Ray’s claims that environmentalists were wrong about ozone depletion. I think it is quite clear that subsequent research has vindicated the concerns of scientists about ozone depletion. The refusal of Ray to admit that the environmentalists could possibly be right about ozone depletion despite overwhelming evidence is telling—he believes that environmentalists are wrong, irrespective of the facts in any case.
I’ve found another ozone hole denier. In this post, Sylvain Galineau dismisses the ozone hole as “propaganda”. I tried to discuss this with him in his comments and he offered three arguments for his position.
- In response to my point that the 1995 Nobel prize for chemistry had been awarded for the work on ozone depletion, he argued that this was “an appeal to authority and establishes nothing.” [Correction: That was Galineau's co-blogger Jonathan Gewirtz.] Galineau opined that the award was a “sacred cow” and had been influenced by politics. Unfortunately, Galineau does not seem to understand that “appeal to authority” is only a fallacy if the authority is just an authority on some unrelated subject. I’m not an expert on chemistry so I have to rely on the opinions of experts. I’m certainly not going to rely on the opinion of Galineau, who is not an expert and has an axe to grind.
- He argued that the threat of ozone depletion had been depicted at the time as something that had already occurred over habitable regions rather than as something that would happen if CFCs continued to be used. I said that my recollection was different and asked him to provide examples. He responded with this story, which wasn’t from the 80s but from just a few months ago. It does warn about dangers of ozone depletion over habitable areas, but that’s because such depletion has been observed since the 80s. I posted a link describing such observations, but Galineau deleted it, calling it an “offtopic rant”.
- He argued that people would have just stopped using CFCs and switched to more expensive alternatives without the Montreal protocol. I pointed to this graph, which shows that, despite concerns first being raised in the mid 70s, CFC production continued to increase until Montreal. Immediately after Montreal it declined rapidly. Galineau dismissed this as a “coincidence”. He further argued that companies would have got consumers to switch (absent Montreal) by increasing prices for CFCs. This argument seems profoundly ignorant of the way markets work.
Galineau repeatedly demanded that I produce evidence for my position. When I did, he edited my post to delete the evidence, claiming that it was “offtopic”. I must confess that I did include this link, debunking Galineau’s claims about DDT. It wasn’t about ozone, but it was relevant to another part of his post.
I believe that Galineau, like John Ray, is an ideologue. They hold their beliefs about ozone regardless of the facts.
Update: I posted a link to this post in Galineau’s comment thread. Galineau deleted it. Unfortunately for him, his co-blogger Jonathan Gewirtz had already responded to this post in that thread, so he did not succeed in preventing readers from seeing my comments. Gewirtz writes:
Tim scores points WRT Sylvain’s imperfect knowledge of CFC production statistics, which proves… something.
The interesting thing about the CFC production facts is not that Galineau did not know what they were, but that when he found out what they were, it did not influence his beliefs at all. I am reminded of the story about Hegel who, when told that the facts did not agree with his theories, is supposed to have said “So much the worse for the facts.”
Update 2: Galineau’s blog, Chicago Boyz, as a gesture of admiration has pictures of some distinguished Chicago “boys” at its head, including seven Nobel laureates. One U of Chicago Nobel laureate that they don’t have is seen on this page: F. Sherwood Rowland, who shared the 1995 chemistry Nobel for his work on ozone depletion. Galineau expressed his admiration for this distinguished Chicago boy by calling him a “Nobel prized sacred cow”. His co-blogger Jonathan Gewirtz wrote “Nobel committees are influenced by politics and fads”.