“Nitrous oxide (N2O) has become the greatest threat to the ozone layer, a new analysis suggests. The ozone-destroying abilities of the gas have been largely ignored by policy-makers and atmospheric scientists alike, who have focused on the more potent chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)-historically the dominant ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere.” So says Nature magazine, reporting on the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado (figures.)
Nature goes on to explain to that while CFCs are sixteen times more potent than nitrous in terms of ozone depletion, the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere has been falling since 1989, when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted worldwide.
“Meanwhile, nitrous oxide levels have been climbing as a result of increased emissions from agricultural fertilizers, biomass burning and animal waste.” And, of course, the massive amount of the stuff inhaled at Dead shows and campground music festivals like Bonnaroo and Gathering of the Vibes.
So, thanks a lot, hippies! Visualize world environmental apocalypse!
In related news, did you see that the Times yesterday weighed in about the “amorphous, floating mass of waste plastic trapped in a gyre of currents in the north Pacific, between Hawaii and Japan”? They say it is maybe 100 million tons of plastic garbage, covering an area roughly twice the size of Texas. Could be a good spot for a recession vacation. Let’s get building on that!