It’s Danny Healy-Rae versus science again as TD blames nukes for ozone hole
It is not clear whether he developed the theory himself or took it from another source
He told the Dáil during the debate on the Paris climate change agreement on Thursday that the ozone hole was actually caused by nuclear tests conducted during the 1960s in the Pacific by the US.
“They told us about the ozone layer, greenhouse gases and cans of hairspray or whatever but they never told us that it was nuclear testing, ” he said in relation to the ozone hole.
“They never told us that nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean 50 years ago actually caused the serious damage to the ozone layer. I am thankful it is now mending and curing. It has nothing to do with policies in any country in recent times,” he informed the house.
It is not clear whether he developed the theory himself or if it was an idea from another source. Either way, it is very much at odds with our long-standing understanding of how ozone is lost in the upper atmosphere.
Healy-Rae is correct however in saying that damage to the ozone layer is slowly repairing itself.
His last run-in with science occurred last May, again in the Oireachtas during discussions in the climate change committee. He suggested that the weather was God’s doing and raised doubts about humankind’s ability to have an impact on climate.
Ozone is essential for our life on earth because it reduces the amount of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the surface. These rays from the sun cause sunburn and if you burn it raises your risk of developing skin cancers.
They are depleted in a chemical reaction in the upper atmosphere that is fed by the presence of chlorine put there by human activity.
For decades, humans released chemicals called CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) into the atmosphere from aerosol tins and refrigeration equipment.
These floated into the upper atmosphere where they began damaging ozone and this increased the amount of UV radiation that reached the earth.
The 1989 Montreal Protocol committed the international community to stop using CFCs and since then there has been a gradual return of ozone.
Perhaps Mr Healy-Rae picked up on the nuclear test theory from a New Zealander, Bill Hartley. He believes the light from above-ground nuclear tests was strong enough to knock holes in the ozone layer.
The theory is very unlikely, however, because it is not white light that causes the damage, and the reaction only happens when certain weather conditions are present over the poles.