Ozone depletion denial, part III

I wrote earlier about ozone depletion deniers John Ray and Sylvain Galineau. I’ve found another such denier and his name is John Lott. Lott wrote a positive review\* of Environmental Overkill, a book written by Dixy Lee Ray with Lou Guzzo. In his review, Lott calls ozone depletion an “environmental myth” and a “scare story”.

Now, Lott’s false statements about ozone depletion might have been forgivable if Ray had made a good case against ozone depletion, but the quality of the science and scholarship in her work is appalling. Robert Parson has written a devastating critique of her chapters on ozone depletion. Parsons categorizes the problems with Ray’s work into four categories

  1. Basic misconceptions about science. For example, the claim that CFCs cannot rise to the stratosphere because they are heavier than air. If this were true all the heavy gasses in the atmosphere would collect at sea level and the air would be unbreathable there.
  2. False assertions that require a more detailed knowledge of the technical literature to refute. For example, the claim that explosive volcanic eruptions are a major source of stratospheric chlorine.
  3. Statements presented in a misleading context and surrounded with false information.
  4. Shoddy scholarship, ignoring the relevant scientific literature and instead uncritically relying on such bizarre sources as publications by Lyndon LaRouche’s associates

Suffice it to say that checking out any of Ray’s claims against her alleged sources would have shown them to be false. But Lott described her work as “solid” and endorsed it.

While I’m on the topic of ozone depletion denialists, this discussion on Sallie Baliunas is interesting, and Jim Norton has a whole page of links debunking various myths about ozone depletion.

\*Lott’s review appeared in Regulation 16:4 pp 80–82 (unfortunately not available on-line).


  1. #1 Sylvain Galineau
    February 9, 2004

    Voice any criticism of media coverage of the issue and you’re an “ozone depletion denier”.

    Better yet, Mr Lambert and other enlightened individuals only have to claim some theory is contradicted in order to prove facts cannot, or did not happen.

    And somehow, that qualifies as “debunking” myths.

    Writing and perpetuating them is more like it.

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    February 9, 2004

    Oh, so are you conceding that CFCs cause ozone depletion, Sylvain?

  3. #3 Sylvain Galineau
    February 10, 2004

    Cool. I got to practice this trick. It probably shouldn’t work with anyone above the age of nine, but who knows ? Just make up something and accuse people of having said it, and when they deny it, ask them if they are conceding.

    You can’t fool me. You’re running for political office aren’t you ?

  4. #4 Hipocrite
    February 10, 2004

    Let’s try that again. Do you or do you not believe that CFCs cause ozone depletion, Sylvain?

  5. #5 Sylvain Galineau
    February 10, 2004

    Well, it depends, my friend. Since the Holy Theorem Of Coase is the benchmark according to which facts do or do not exist, we have to ask the Theorem. And as the self-appointed High Priest of the new church, you tell me. And I shall spread the word far and wide. Amen, Brother.

    Haha. (Couldn’t help myself. Sad isn’t it ?) But first, where did I deny CFCs caused ozone depletion ? It’s sort of hard to concede something you didn’t deny, isn’t it ? I mean, sure, Brother Tim claims I am a “denier” but with all due respect to His Holiness, shouldn’t accusations be based on some kind of clear, unambiguous evidence ? Like something with the words “CFCs” “depletion” and “unrelated” in it ? On my blog or this one ? Don’t punish me, Master. Bad Smeagol is only asking.

    I found one comment on our blog that doubts CFCs are responsible, or at least not the main cause. The very last one, posted recently. Not mine, though.

    Now. Since you guys obviously do not bother reading 1/5 of what I write – or you wouldn’t be making counterpoints to things I never said, or claiming I said or denied things I never did – let’s get back to the starting point and rehash the same argument all over again (I can’t believe I’m doing that). I did ask “what happened to the hole in the ozone layer anyway ?” because, well, it’s virtually gone from the media radar screen, yet it’s still there and for years I was told its long-term consequences reached far and wide, even if we managed to stop its increase. Yet now, except of the odd WHO warning about keeping the kids away from the sun, it’s pretty much history. And the deafening silence is certainly out of proportion with the amount of noise it generated, considering it’s still there and its presence alone was allegedly such a momentous problem in and of itself, and well beyond Antartica.

    Now, you will be kind enough to explain to me how asking what happened to the ozone hole in the collective consciousness, or claiming its outsized media presence in times past – and its predicted consequences as they were then stated – had a thing or two to do with spin or propaganda, imply, in the clearest and most undeniable manner, that I am saying CFCs do not cause ozone depletion ? How do we get from here to there ? All I see here is a leap of faith, not logic.

    Of course, Tim assumed I meant the hole didn’t exist, which one can already infer from his very first comment. Did I contradict him on that ? Did I say the hole didn’t exist ? Where ? This was his assumption, and one for which evidence does not exist. Do I have to “concede” only because Tim believes I denied CFC’s harmful effect ? Should I concede an alleged denial on the sole basis of your interpretation of a rhetorical question that made no mention of CFCs ? Am I liable for what you think I mean ? Hello ?

    Was the question rhetorical ? Yes. Was it ambiguous ? For the two of you, obviously it was. But ambiguity being in the eye of the beholder, I can hardly be held responsible for your own flawed assumptions and biased conclusions. Both your reactions to this ambiguity say a lot more about your biases than it does about my beliefs regarding CFC effects on atmospheric ozone.

    And one bonus question for the road: if I didn’t believe CFCs had anything to do with the problem, or if I believed there was no ozone depletion, no hole….can you explain to me what the hell am I doing arguing here arguing page after page about Montreal, and how market forces were solving the problem etc ? I don’t know, it just seems to me that if one doesn’t believe there is a problem to begin with, they wouldn’t write a page a day to argue on how it was being solved.

    Never mind. I just realized I was expecting common sense and an honest judgment. Sorry. My mistake. Smeagol is very very sorry, Master.

  6. #6 Hipocrite
    February 10, 2004

    That’s the longest nonanswer to an easy question I’ve ever seen. I’ll try again. Do you or do you not believe that CFCs cause ozone depletion, Sylvain?

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    February 10, 2004

    Sylvain, you don’t seem to have answered my question. If what I’ve written is in error I’d like to correct it. Do you think that CFCs cause ozone depletion? Please answer this time.

  8. #8 raj
    February 10, 2004

    Um, who is Sylvain Galineau, and why should anyone care what he, she or it opines on any matter?

    I have asked the same regarding Clayton Cramer, and have yet to receive an answer.

  9. #9 Hipocrite
    February 10, 2004

    Where did Cramer raise the issue? Color me intrested.

  10. #10 Sylvain Galineau
    February 10, 2004

    Tim, since you have made two substantial yet unproven accusations, you are in no position to demand answers yet. Since neither you nor I live in Iran, accusations must be supported with evidence before a would-be prosecutor is in a position to demand answers. First, you unambiguously claimed I denied ozone depletion existed. And second, you implied – by asking me to “concede”, as in “to acknowledge grudgingly or hesitantly” – that I denied CFCs caused ozone depletion.

    Can you, or can you not provide clear and unambiguous evidence – not inferences from ambiguous rhetorical questions conveniently interpreted by yourself, or any other vague inuendo that I might have meant something and therefore I did – for calling me an “ozone depletion denier” ? Second, can you or can you not provide evidence for claiming I denied CFCs caused ozone depletion ?

    Or have you somehow been granted the authority to not only pull allegations out of your ass, and accuse individuals arbitrarily and publicly, but also to publicly demand explanation from them on this sole basis ? By whom ? How ? And why ?

    As long as I wait for my answers, you will be waiting for yours.

    (raj, I think your answer is in your question; who are you and why should Clayton Cramer or anyone else care what you have to opine on any matter or answer you ?…)

  11. #11 Tim Lambert
    February 10, 2004

    Hipocrite, Cramer hasn’t written anything about ozone, though if you want to trawl through old Usenet archives, you’ll find some nutty stuff about homosexuals.

    Raj, I thought your question was rhetorical.

    Sylvain, I don’t need anyone to grant me the authority to write things and ask you questions. If I have misunderstood you views on ozone depletion, please clarify them. Why have you suddenly gotten all shy about expressing your opinions?

  12. #12 raj
    February 10, 2004

    My comment wasn’t entirely rhetorical. A few months ago, I asked the question as to why anyone would care what Cramer posted. This was in regards the gun control issue. He responded with a citation to a page that listed some books that he got somebody to publish for him. I was not sure what the fact that somebody published the books for him had to do with any expertise he had in the matter. Nor can I tell what the fact is that this Sylvain Galineau has a web page on which he bloviates suggests that he has any expertise on the matter on which he is currently bloviating. Perhaps he can elucidate.

  13. #13 Sylvain Galineau
    February 10, 2004

    Tim, you accused me of “ozone depletion denial”. Either substantiate your defamatory accusation. Or admit it has no basis. Which is it ? Are you saying that because you can make up accusations , it falls on whomever you accuse to prove their innocence ? Is this how it’s done in Australia ? You guys still a penal British colony or something ?

    I am waiting. Why have you suddenly gotten so shy about proving your assertion ? Can’t appeal to theory or academic authority anymore ? Afraid of being proven ideological ?

    (Raj, how does your own bloviating prove you have any expertise on anything ? Please elucidate.)

  14. #14 raj
    February 10, 2004

    Sylvain Galineau: this is a joke, right? I don’t claim any expertise. I haven’t made a claim. You apparently have. Made a claim that is. And, as such, have claimed some expertise. So what is the basis for your claim? In other words, why should anyone give you the time of day for your comments? BTW, the fact that I haven’t claimed any expertise doesn’t mean that I don’t have any expertise. In the relevant subjects: statistics, mathematics, physics and chemistry. So don’t change the subject. Why should anyone care what Sylvain Galineau posts. The fact is that any idiot can set up a web page. And it is clear that more than a few have.

  15. #15 Sylvain Galineau
    February 11, 2004

    raj, do you even know what’s going on here ? Who made a claim ? Me ? Can you read English ? Yes ? What is in dispute here ? Tim claims I am an “ozone depletion denier”. I am asking for evidence for this clear and unambiguous accusation and he declines to provide any, on the grounds that he can write what he wants. (Which is usually what people will say when they have no proof…). Do you have proof I made that claim ? Show it to me. Or is Tim’s unsupported assertion that I did sufficient ?

    Now, can you please elaborate on why I should give you the time of day for your comments, when you don’t even know what is being talked about ? And why I or anyone else owes you an answer about anything ?.

    The fact is that any idiot can set up a web page. And it is clear that more than a few have. Thanks for stating it, Captain Obvious. Look around you. Any idiot can accuse anybody else of anything and any passing gnat will accept it as fact. There, I now claim you’re an holocaust denier. Piece of cake. Do I have proof ? Hell, no. But there is no need for that. I can say whatever I want and the burden of proof is on you. How do you like’ em apples ?

    And you’re right; any idiot can set one up. Just like any random moron can post a circular comment asking why he should care what someone is saying, as if anyone cared about what he thinks in the first place.