One of the key success factors of the Montreal Protocol is the role played by media. When first put forward by scientists, the problem of ozone layer depletion was in reality far away, seemingly much detached from everyday life on Earth. Physically it was more than 20 kilometres up in the sky. Moreover, the cause and effects of ozone layer depletion were removed from one another. After listening to the hypotheses put forward by esteemed scientists Paul J. Crutzen, Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, surely the common man must have said, "there are so many real problems for us to solve, who has the time and mind to hear this stratospherically distant thunder?"
This remote issue was literally brought down to earth and turned into an everyday issue by journalists. They metamorphosed this esoteric atmospheric calamity into an iconic term the "Ozone Hole" which came to be associated with the famous NASA satellite image of ozone depletion over Antarctica. The journalists' work made this hitherto isolated problem appear to be something of a leaking roof over all of our heads. What could be more insecure for a family than to have the safety and comfort of their home imperilled because of a hole in their roof? One cannot go about business as usual and sleep soundly in a house with a leak, particularly when there is evidence that it is going to widen further unless action is taken. The first thing the house dwellers would do is to get a ladder, climb up to the roof and patch up the hole. What else? The Montreal Protocol was that very ladder picked up by the world community whose metaphoric roof was leaking.
On a long haul flight to Malaysia last week, I was reading an article in a magazine about climate change. I finished reading and looked out of the plane window into the distant blue sky. I realised that there is not always a "dangerous" connotation to the word "hole". While "ozone hole" symbolised global environmental problem, "holes" drilled in the Earth could be the answer to another global environmental catastrophe facing humanity today -climate change.
When drilling into the earth, the temperature rises rapidly every kilometre you descend. If you could reach down to 6 kilometres (some of the South African gold mines have already reached up to 4 kilometres below the Earth's surface) the temperature there would be 150 degree centigrade. Now imagine that we pour water from one hole till this point, we could expect steam oozing up from another parallel and connected hole drilled nearby. And that steam could be used for turbines to generate electricity. No need to burn fossil fuel to generate steam! Geothermal energy has potential to help solve the climate change problem, if we had the technology to drill such holes, and they could be located near major population centres. Scientists are already engaged in drilling such experimental bores. These are examples of "holes" with a positive connotation that could help answer our global environmental problems.
Dear journalists, thanks for the your ingenuity for the coining the term "ozone hole". But how about another metaphor, this time to inspire global community to take action against the climate change? How about: "One hole represents a problem but two holes could solve the problem" or "Holistic approach down into core of the earth to address the climate change"
Members of the media, we need your repeat performance to catalyse action on climate change - immediately!
1 comment(s) so far...
By georgetown hostel on
Re: All that is empty is not a 'hole'!
I do have the same perceptions as you. Climate change could be one of the reasons why there are lots of sink holes on earth.