Choosing Golf Course Pesticide And Solar Death
By James Donahue
Everybody knows there is an alarming hole in the Earth's
ozone layer that exposes Antarctica
and the southern areas of the world to solar radiation during certain times of the year.
A lot of people also know that world leaders were so alarmed
about the speed at which the ozone over the planet was being depleted, they made an international pact in 1987 to ban products
containing the two main chemicals found to be causing the problem . . . chloride and bromine compounds . . . from world markets.
Since that date, industrial leaders all over the world
have been complying with the terms of the pact, called the Montreal Protocol, and scientists have been expressing hope that
the damage to the ozone layer can be halted before it gets so thin our planet will be too radiated to support life.
This and the second major world effort to stop global
warming via the Kyoto Protocol, hammered out in Japan
just before George W. Bush took office, were both hopeful signs. It was the first two times the major world powers were willing
to act collectively to take drastic measures to save the planet from total ruin.
Bush changed everything.
He not only snubbed the Kyoto Protocol, he is making a
major effort this year to allow American farmers and industries to dodge the rules of the Montreal Protocol. The government
wants to allow the continued use of methyl bromide, a pesticide used for fumigating stored grain bins and treating golf course
If someone has counted the number of farm granaries and
golf courses around the country lately, he or she would know that it would take a lot of methyl bromide to keep the bugs out
of all of them.
Methyl bromide, a toxic poisonous gas, remains the greatest
attacker of ozone left in the industrialized part of the world. That is because of its qualities as a bug killer work effectively
in buildings, thick patches of plants and other hard-to-get-at places. Other pesticides are available that do not harm the
ozone, but the application is more difficult.
Farmers like to inject the gas into the soil before planting
because it wipes out everything alive, including earthworms and other earth-friendly insects. But they say it leaves no toxic
residue in the soil. Instead, the gas escapes from the soil and rises into the atmosphere, eventually attacking the ozone
States is responsible for a quarter of the world's consumption of methyl bromide. The stuff
is so toxic, it is deadly when humans come in contact with it. And the chemical also has been linked to prostate cancers in
If Bush gets his way, his administration is going to snub
the Montreal Protocol, just as it did the Kyoto Protocol. We can then watch the southern hole in the ozone layer get wider
and wider until the protective covering disappears from our planet altogether.
Not only is the U.S. government demanding the right to
continue using methyl bromide to treat golf courses, it also wants to exploit a loophole in the treaty that would allow the
use of the gas to treat wood packaging. Instead of phasing out the use of the poison, American industry might actually increase
production and use.
An international conference in Nairobi
will consider the U.S. demands for protocol
exemptions in the fall. If successful, environmental groups fear the treaty will start to fall apart.
"The US is reneging on the agreement, and working very,
very hard to get other countries to agree," said David Doniger, former government official and now with the Natural Resources
Dr. Joe Farman, the Cambridge
scientist that discovered the Antarctic ozone hole, was quoted in one British newspaper: "This is madness. We do not need
this chemical. We do need the ozone layer. How stupid can people be?"
When you think about the millions of years it took for
that ozone to build up there in the stratosphere, and the millions of years more it will take for it to be replaced, letting
Mr. Bush and pals get away with this is a serious crime.
In the interest of money, they could be sounding
a death knell for the entire human race and it might be coming down on us sooner than anybody might image.