From Publishers Weekly
Cagin and Dray ( We Are Not Afraid ) here examine the effect on the earth's atmosphere of chloroflourocarbons. Clarifying the atmospheric science and physical chemistry behind the familiar reports on ozone depletion, the authors artfully explicate scientific background information that the general reader might otherwise set aside through skepticism or lack of understanding. The story traces the success of CFCs from their invention in 1928 as one of the earliest synthetic industrial chemicals, first used in refrigeration , to their widespread use as a propellant in aerosol cans; and from the first cautionary notes raised in the mid-1970s to the political showdown with the chemical lobby in the '80s. The authors hint at the significance of a weakening of our faith in science, but that theme remains mostly a byproduct of the CFC debate in this level-headed record of the arguments in the CFC investigations.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Shifting from civil-rights history (We Are Not Afraid, 1988) to an especially tragic path of 20th-century progress, Cagin and Dray offer a well-written, devastatingly detailed chronicle of the widespread use of CFCs over more than 60 years. First synthesized in 1928 in the Ohio laboratory of Thomas Midgley, Jr., an eccentric but inspired researcher for General Motors, chlorofluorocarbons were created to provide a nontoxic alternative to the household refrigerators then available. Midgley's boss, Charles Kettering, quickly realized the great potential of such a supposedly benign coolant and encouraged the application of CFCs in the fledgling air-conditioning industry- -thereby prompting a revolution in the American way of life through the emergence of climate-controlled home and office environments. Other uses for the wonder chemical followed: CFCs gave rise to the entire aerosol industry when first employed as a more user-friendly means of dispensing insecticides, and they became an active ingredient in the manufacture of Styrofoam as well. But not until 1974, when research by two University of California scientists showed the likelihood of heavy damage to the world's ozone layer by CFCs, did the price of ``better living through chemistry'' become apparent. Mounting pressure to stop production of the chemicals met with stiff resistance from DuPont and other manufacturers, and any progress toward regulation was hampered by a turbulent political climate--until irrefutable evidence in the mid-80's of growing holes in the ozone over the Antarctic forced the CFC industry to capitulate. At once fascinating and horrifying: a timely study of one scientific advance that proved to be a decidedly mixed blessing. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.