Latest assessment shows continuing recovery of the ozone layer
Author: Liam Taylor
A report from the UN released late last year showing the ongoing healing of the ozone layer have been hailed as an example of what collaborative global action can achieve.
The report, titled Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018, reveals that the concentration of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere has continued to decrease in recent years, leading to an ozone recovery rate of 1-3 percent since 2000. If this rate of recovery continues it is projected that even the most severely depleted parts of the ozone layer over the poles could be completely healed by 2060.
The ozone layer, also called the ozone shield, is a layer of ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which can cause skin cancer, crop damage and numerous other issues. Concerns about ozone layer depletion were initially raised in the 1980s, with scientists finding chlorofluorocarbons and halons commonly used in aerosols and refrigerators to be the major culprits.
This led to the signing of the Montreal Protocol, which committed nations to phasing out the gases, in 1987. Scientists have estimated that if nothing had been done to stop ozone depletion the world may have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065.
“It’s really good newsx,” Paul Newman, the report’s co-chairman, told the Associated Press.
“If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that.”
The Montreal Protocol, which was signed by 197 nations, remains one of the most impressive instances of cooperative action between nations on an environmental issue in history, providing proof of what concerted global action can achieve where there is the political will to do so.
News that the ozone layer is continuing along its road to recovery is only further confirmation of the treaty’s success, giving hope that a similar cooperative agreement could arise on climate change in time.
“Even as complicated and as difficult and time consuming as [the Montreal Protocol] was, climate is far more complex and demanding of the world,” said David Fahey, director of the Chemical Sciences Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory and a lead author on the study.
“We like to talk about it as giving encouragement to take on the harder problem.”
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