Excellent history of the science and politics of ozone
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 19 years ago
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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