Monday, 7 December 2009

Good news is no news

Congratulations! We saved the planet! Really, I'm not even being slightly sarcastic. Granted it's only on one specific point, but we, the human race, actually accomplished something together.

Still not sure what I'm talking about? Do you all really have sieves for memories? Alas it appears you have forgotten all about our precious ozone layer. Bang! There it is. Now you are recalling the headline after headline, the countless news bulletins, all the graphs and scientists; all talking about the massive hole being burnt into the ozone layer like a lit cigarette being stubbed out on an eyeball. Many a sharp intake of breath was broadcast as questions were asked as to what was happening and what it meant for us, the sentient beings of the Earth. CFC gases! That was the problem. Too many companies making products with absolutely no regard for the atmosphere: hairsprays, deodorants, air fresheners, fridges; all laying about the place letting off gas and not giving a flying toss. These CFC's were all meeting up in the upper atmosphere, you see, and having a party with the planet's protective layer more wretched than male students dirtying up your daughter in freshers' week. The problem with this huge hole, apart from having to wear factor 4,000 sun cream, is that it was right over Antarctica, and so all those extra UV's were nuking the place and making it melt somewhat. The message was simple: cut the crap, get rid of the CFC's, and we'd all be fine.

A decade or so later and we've done it. Yes, there are still some nasty gases about, but the main point is that we're back at recovery levels and the hole is closing up, healing itself (according to several reports, including this one in The Guardian). Celebration time, right? Wrong! Because guess what, that massive hole was actually acting as a big chimney for all the nasty greenhouse gases we're churning out. It was letting the UV rays in, in exchange for the heat out. So in return for repairing the damage done we've effectively placed the lid back on a dry pan with the gas on full. Sheer, ironic brilliance.

The thing is that I'm suddenly not so concerned with global warming because it has proved that if we all pull together, buy the right products, think about what we use, lobby the right people; we can actually achieve something. Why wasn't a bigger deal made out of it in the news? Simply because it's good news. Fixing a hole is never going to make a headline spot when there's global warming danger, riots at Copenhagen's summit, and Tiger Woods' marital affairs to compete with.

Illustration by Hannah Wallace

1 comment:

  1. I actually recall hearing a report on Radio 4 about the healing months ago. It's probably better that not many people hear about it... they might relax to much and We'll slip into old habits.