More protection: UN says Earth’s ozone layer is healing
More protection: UN says Earth’s ozone layer is healing
This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000 left and September 2018
08 November, 2018, 14:15
Every four years, a report like this one is released, documenting the recovery of the ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol was finalized in 1987 in response to the realization that numerous chemicals used in aerosols, air conditioning systems, refrigerators, and industrial solvents were eroding the planet's stratosphere, creating a hole and allowing harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation to seep through the ozone layer. Scientists raised the alarm and ozone-depleting chemicals were phased out worldwide.
In a rare piece of good news about the environment - and proof of what concerted global action can achieve - the United Nationsannounced in a Monday report that the ozone layer, which was significantly damaged over the course of decades by humans, is on the road to recovery.
The Montreal Protocol helped phase out ozone depleting chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons - known as CFCs - which were used widely in the production of fridges and spray cans until it transpired that they contributed to the breakdown of the ozone layer.
This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000, left, and September 2018. The worldwide agreement compelled the global community to begin the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons.
At its worst in the late 1990s, about 10 percent of the upper ozone layer was depleted, said Newman. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.
The hole has exposed us to strong ultra-violet light, which has in turn been linked to an increase in diagnoses for skin cancer, prompting severe bans on the manufacture of products featuring the damaging chemicals.
Eventually, the hole in the ozone layer is expected to close, returning gradually to the same levels seen in the 1980s. The hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December until the next Southern Hemisphere spring.
If nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, he warned.
The UN had already hailed the success of the Protocol but the report said it was the first time that there were emerging indications that the Antarctic ozone hole had diminished in size and depth since 2000.
Now scientists say the ozone layer is making a comeback and will make a full recovery in 42 years.
Recent reports have found that emissions of a banned CFC are increasing in China - something the Chinese government has vowed to crack down on.
So a healed ozone layer will worsen man-made climate change there a bit, Newman said.
"I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060", Newman said.
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