Press-Republican

Columns

December 4, 2011

Carbon dioxide emissions our legacy to the future

Legacy is a term we may hear and see in print from time to time.

According to www.thefreedictionary.com, it means "a gift by will," "something handed down or received from an ancestor or predecessor."

Our predecessors from the 1900s gave us such a legacy. Even as late as 2011, an "unprecedented" ozone hole developed in the Arctic, with continuing ozone holes forming over the Antarctic regions. This was not done on purpose. There was a lack of awareness and understanding about the impact of groups of chemicals, chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons had on the Earth's atmosphere.

These chemicals consist of volatile molecules and are used as refrigerants in our homes, cars and elsewhere in life. When released/leaked into the atmosphere, they rise into the stratosphere high above the Earth's surface, where they react with and destroy the ozone layer.

The chemistry is very complex, but it is clear that by reducing the ozone layer, increased amounts of high-energy solar UV radiation are able to reach the Earth's surface. This radiation is very harmful and can cause skin cancer and have other deleterious effects on life on Earth.

With some incomplete data but ongoing research, scientists sounded the alarm to policy makers, who rose to the challenge. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and came into force Jan. 1, 1989. Altogether, 196 countries have signed the Protocol to limit these and other similar chemicals, and to eventually stop their use. However, the legacy, the gift, stays with us and will for the next half century and more. Until the ozone hole closes, people from Scandinavia to Russia, Canada to Argentina will be at risk.

But what about carbon dioxide? Is there a legacy here as well? A gift from us to future generations?

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time