F Sherwood Rowland

Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 09:04 in Earth & Climate

He played a key role in eliminating the threat from CFCs to the ozone layerWhat could be the human significance of a scientific paper entitled Stratospheric Sink for Chlorofluoromethanes: Chlorine Atom-Catalysed Destruction of Ozone? As it turns out, a lot. In 1974, F Sherwood "Sherry" Rowland, who has died aged 84, and his co-author Mario Molina, saw that a class of synthetic chemicals already in wide and growing usage around the world could cause pronounced thinning of the Earth's natural ozone layer, thus subjecting life on the planet's surface to larger doses of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.Their paper in the journal Nature laid out the basic science and the plausibility, if not inevitability, of global impacts of these chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemicals and demonstrated how certain human activities can have environmental impacts far beyond what one might intuit. Two decades later, Sherry, Molina and Paul Crutzen shared the...

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