Thatcher Gets No Credit for Ozone

Arctic Ozone HoleThere was a very interesting discussion on All In about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. I quite agree with what Chris Hayes says at the beginning of the clip below. But at one point, he asks Cass Sunstein if there is anything about Thatcher that liberals should applaud. Sunstein mentions the ozone layer: Thatcher and Reagan both pushed for the ban of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Let’s stop right there. (We might as well, he doesn’t mention anything else that liberals might like about Thatcher.)

The reason that we got the ban on CFCs is that DuPont wanted CFC-11 and CFC-12 banned. Why? The patents were running out and they had brand new patents on the replacement compounds. So as usual, these great lions of conservatism were just doing what the corporations wanted. I assure you that there would be a stampede of Republicans calling for carbon taxes if it were to Chevron’s and Exxon’s economic advantage.

So no. Liberals should not give even the slightest bit of respect to the Rusted Out Iron Lady. In banning CFCs Thatcher was doing exactly what she did when she privatized state utilities: the bidding of the power elite. That’s all she (or for that matter Reagan) ever did.


Cass Sunstein also says that the ozone hole causes skin cancer. That’s not really true. The only thing known at that time was that the ozone layer over the south pole was decimated. At that time, global stratospheric ozone had not been shown to be decreasing. This is an issues that has long confused lay people. But this is not to say that the ozone hole isn’t important. Environmental problems don’t have to affect humans directly to be important.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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