Image-of-the-Week: Scary Arctic Ozone Hole

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Unprecedented Arctic ozone hole of 2011.: NASA image by Eric Nash and Robert Simmon with data from the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder team.Unprecedented Arctic ozone hole of 2011. NASA image by Eric Nash and Robert Simmon with data from the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder team.

An unexpected ozone hole—the first of its kind—opened above the Arctic this past spring, with a whopping ozone loss of more than 80 percent 11 to 12 miles/18 to 20 kilometers above Earth. That thinning rivals the worst of Antarctica’s ozone woes. We’ve become used to a persistent hole above Antarctica, which, despite our phase-out of CFCs, refuses to heal… thanks to a positive feedback loop between ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions and a paradoxical cooling in the stratosphere. (I first wrote about this in MoJo’s The Thirteenth Tipping Point.) Only 9 years ago the World Meteorological Organization surmised the Arctic would never produce an ozone hole, since it lacked a polar vortex and really cold temperatures. But as the authors of a new paper in Nature report this week, the Arctic got the vortex this year, and: “Our results show that Arctic ozone holes are possible even with temperatures much milder than those in the Antarctic.” We know that decreased ozone leads to increased UV-B radiation, skin cancers, and reduced yields of two-thirds of the 300 most important crop varietals. Europe’s winter wheat crop likely took a noticeable hit from this year’s Arctic ozone hole. As to why the stratosphere gets colder in a warming world, Jeff Masters at WunderBlog sums it up: “If the surface atmosphere warms, there must be compensating cooling elsewhere in the atmosphere in order to keep the amount of heat given off by the planet the same and balanced. As emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, their cooling effect on the stratosphere will increase. This will make recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer much slower.” 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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