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Global Environmental Change: Understanding the Human Dimensions
oped countries. They illustrate how multiple driving forces interact to determine the proximate human causes of global change and why systematic social analysis is necessary for understanding how human actions cause it. In the section that follows, we discuss the interrelationships among the driving forces at a more theoretical level.
In 1985, the head of the British Antarctic Survey, Joseph Farman, reported that his team had discovered a heretofore unobserved atmospheric phenomenon: a sudden springtime thinning of the ozone layer over Antarctica, allowing ultraviolet radiation to reach the ground much more intensely than was ordinarily the case (Farman et al., 1985). Subsequent scientific investigations soon led to what is now the most widely accepted explanation of what was happening. Chlorine compounds derived mostly from chlorinated fluorocarbon gases (CFCs), mass-produced by industrial societies for a variety of purposes, reacted in the stratospheric clouds over Antarctica during the cold, dark, winter months to produce forms of chlorine that rapidly deplete stratospheric ozone when the first rays of the Antarctic spring sunlight arrive (Solomon, 1990). Massive destruction of ozone followed very quickly, until natural circulation patterns replenished the supply and closed what came to be known as ''the ozone hole.'' Human activities in distant areas of the planet had brought a sudden and potentially devastating change to the Antarctic and its ecosystems, a change that did not bode well for the ozone layer in other parts of the planet (Stolarski, 1988).
To understand this event and the political controversies that followed in its wake, one has to reach back through almost a century's worth of history, long before CFCs existed. Until almost the end of the nineteenth century, refrigeration was a limited technology, based almost entirely on natural sources of supply. Urban Americans who could afford to drink chilled beverages relied on metropolitan ice markets, which cut ice from local ponds in the winter and stored it in warehouses for use during the warm months of the year. Breweries and restaurants were the heaviest users of this stored winter ice, which was sometimes shipped hundreds of miles to provide refrigeration. Boston ice merchants, for instance, were regularly delivering ice to consumers in Charleston, South Carolina, and even the Caribbean by the fourth decade of the nineteenth century (Hall, 1888; Cummings, 1949; Lawrence, 1965).