Cloud of pollution `out of control'

THE NOBEL prize-winning chemist who first predicted that man- made chemicals would damage the world's ozone layer fears that vast pollution clouds over the Indian Ocean are a sign the earth's atmosphere is losing the power to clean itself.

Clouds hovering far from the land over the world's oceans are a sign that the smoke creating the pollution is now "overloading the atmosphere" according to Professor Mario Molina, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is to launch an urgent investigation.

An enormous cloud of brown haze, the size of the United States, has been found over the Indian Ocean, 100 miles from the nearest shore, by an international scientific group. No one knows what has caused the smoke - it could come from forest fires, car exhausts on the Indian sub-continent, or perhaps from industrialised countries thousands of miles away.

Professor Molina, who was speaking after being given UNEP's $200,000 (pounds 128,000) Saskasawa Prize - the world's top environmental award - said the cloud over the Indian Ocean had only been found because scientists from the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Group were specifically examining the area. He said there were signs of similar clouds over the Pacific and that he feared they could become a "global" phenomenon. Normally such pollution would be washed out of the air by rain, but the fact they were persisting suggested that an alarming change may be taking place.

He said he feared that pollution was "overloading the atmosphere beyond its capacity to clean itself".

Professor Klaus Topfer, UNEP's executive director, added that the cloud was a cause for "huge concern" and said he was planning to launch "co- ordinated scientific research" into the phenomenon.

However, Professor Molina, who is a scientific adviser to President Clinton added that, in the meantime, the level of ozone damaging chemicals in the atmosphere were gradually beginning to decrease as a result of international agreement to phase them out, marking the beginning of what is expected to be the first major victory over global atmospheric pollution.

But he added that the chemicals last so long in the atmosphere that the ozone layer is not expected to recover fully until the year 2050 even if all nations in the world succeed in banning them.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week