Is Earth's ozone layer healing? UN report cause for optimism

Federico Mansilla
Noviembre 8, 2018

The planet's ozone layer has been thinning since back in the 1970s.

"I'm seeing firsthand how seriously this body, the United Nations, the delegates to the MOP, governments, scientists, NGOs, all of them, take this issue of increased CFC emissions", Stephen Montzka, a scientist with NOAA and an attendee at this week's meetings, told UPI.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment said the Montreal Protocol, is "one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history". A weakened ozone means more UV rays make it to earth, increasing our risk of skin cancer and other diseases.

This is due to internationally agreed actions carried out under the historic Montreal Protocol, which came into being over 30 years ago in response to the revelation that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances - used in aerosols, cooling and refrigeration systems, and many other items - were tearing a hole in the ozone layer and allowing risky ultraviolet radiation to flood through.

The "Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018" report is made available to the public on the Montreal Protocol's website.

Satellite and ground-level observations by NASA, the NOAA, the European Space Agency and scores of the weather stations around the globe have clearly divulged that the world is now safer than what it was in 1980s - at least from a deadly attack of the UV rays.

Indeed, this good news amidst global turmoil in environmental degradation is more than simply encouraging.

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Now, a few decades since those agreements were galvanized, scientists believe that the ozone layer will indeed completely heal itself.

Collective and individual actions can change the world. The co-chair of the committee of experts, the USA scientist David Fahey, explained that the report is based on three major issues, the first of which is to inform members "about the state of the ozone layer and the substances that kill it". That said it all. "As a result of the Montreal Protocol much more severe ozone depletion in the polar regions has been avoided", the report said.

The report comes just a year before the ratification of the Kigali Agreement, which calls for even larger restrictions in gases related to climate change used in fridges, air conditioners and related products.

It is "very important", as the United States expert pointed out, because this measure will mean entering "new territory for the Montreal Protocol".

Incredibly, the report showed that parts of the stratosphere have recovered at a rate of between 1pc and 3pc since 2000. In 2016, delegates came together in the Rwandan capital of Kigali to once again tweak its requirements, this time taking into account the global warming properties of hydroflourocarbons.

The IPCC report offered the clearest evidence to date of the drastic difference between the 1.5°C and 2°C scenarios.

Don't give up; Collective and individual actions can change the world. Scientists had learned that these chlorine-containing chemicals triggered the formation of a gaping hole in the ozone layer right above Antartica. The views expressed are personal.

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