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BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY: How CFCs Changed Our World and Endangered the Ozone Layer Hardcover – May 11, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (May 11, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679420525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679420521
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read many books, both scholarly and popular, of the history of concern over stratospheric ozone and the negotiations of a treaty to protect the ozone layer. Cagin and Dray have written the best. They tell a riviting story of the discovery of the stratosphere, the invention of CFCs (Freons), and the science of stratospheric ozone depletion from the early concerns over supersonic airplanes through the expeditions to antarctica that finally explained the ozone hole.
The science is accurate, and is integrated into a political history of the environmental movement from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to Ralph Nader's activism that led to Earth Day and the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency, to the international negotiations over a treaty to protect the ozone layer.
Cagin and Dray are engaging writers who deliver a blend of history, science, and biography that makes this book very difficult to put down.
The book's greatest defect is the obviously partisan political bias. The authors have a definite political position and their account of environmental policy under Ronald Reagan suffers from a lack of evenhandedness. When I assign this book to students, I caution them to take things with a grain of salt because of the authors' obviously biased treatment, but despite this problem, the quality of the history and the clarity with which Cagin and Dray explain the basic science make this book stand out as the best book to read if you're going to read just one book on ozone depletion.
If you are going to read more than one, Karen Litfin's Ozone Discourses has a much more sophisticated view of the interaction of science and politics in negotiating the ozone treaty, but does not explain the basics as clearly or as vividly as Cagin and Dray.
Richard Benedick's Ozone Diplomacy is also excellent, but focuses almost exclusively on the diplomacy (he was the principal negotiator for the U.S.) and does not spend enough time on the emerging science.
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