By John Gribbin
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Extra info for Hole in the Sky : Man's Threat to the Ozone Layer
With the chlorine question out in the open , at least in the arena of scientific debate, if not in the awareness of the general public , NASA had to take steps, like it or not, to assess the implications. 2 per cent . 07 per cent) than this 'best estimate' . And because chlorine is released directly into the stratosphere by the shuttle, then locked up fairly quickly by chemical reactions into stable compounds that sink down into the troposphere, the studies showed that it would only take a few years for the ozone layer to recover if the shuttle stopped flying, or if the booster rockets were changed to a design that did not em it chemically active chlorine compounds.
The earlier calculations had implied a switchover of the NO x effects from favouring ozone to destroying ozone at about 10 km, so that Concorde's em is sion s would have been weIl in the destruction zone. The later figures put the changeover at the bottom of the stratosphere itself, so that at Concorde altitudes NO x is now seen as only a minor threat to ozone. By the time this was discovered, however, another vehicle which flies even higher was coming off the drawing board. The space shuttle, by its very nature, flies right through the stratosphere, and it belches out a huge amount of exhaust.
But even that would leave CFCs floating around in significant quantities until the second half of the twenty-first century. Attempts to tackle the problem in 1987 aimed at cutting emissions to about 85 per cent of present level s in the short term - ludicrously inadequate if the buildup of CFCs is to be halted. Following the success of initial legislation on spray-can propellants, in 1980 the EP A outlined propo sal s for limiting overall CFC production in the US, including other uses such as refrigeration, to then-current levels.