Decades of global action lead to recovery of the ozone layer

By Carlos Roa

NASA, NOAA, and United Nations recently confirmed the shrinking of the ozone hole over Antarctica, which is good news for the planet

Recent studies have shown that the ozone layer, a vital component of the Earth’s atmosphere that protects life on the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation, is on the road to recovery.

The depletion of the ozone layer, primarily caused by the release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances, has been a major concern for scientists and environmentalists for decades.

CFCs, once commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning, as well as in the production of foam products and as a propellant in aerosol cans, were found to be responsible for the creation of a thinning or a “hole” in the ozone layer over Antarctica.

However, thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which aimed to phase out the production of ozone-depleting substances, the hole has been gradually decreasing in size. The Protocol was ratified by 197 countries, making it one of the most successful international environmental agreements in history.

Recently released data

Recent data from NASA and NOAA scientists say that “The annual Antarctic ozone hole reached an average area of 8.9 million square miles (23.2 million km2) between Sept. 7 and Oct. 13, 2022. This depleted area of the ozone layer over the South Pole was slightly smaller than last year and generally continued the overall shrinking trend of recent years”.

The information was also backed by a United Nation panel of experts on January 9th, in a report published every four years on the progress of the Montreal Protocol, the landmark multilateral environmental agreement that regulates the consumption and production of nearly 100 man-made chemicals, or “ozone-depleting substances” (ODS).

Cooperation brings results

The recovery of the ozone layer is not only good news for the planet, but also for the millions of people who are at risk of skin cancer, cataracts, and other health problems caused by overexposure to UV radiation.

It is important to note that while the ozone layer is showing signs of recovery, it is not yet fully healed and work must continue to protect it. The continued phase-out of ozone-depleting substances and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which also harm it, are crucial in ensuring a full recovery and the protection of the planet, as well as its inhabitants.

The recovery of the ozone layer is a positive step in the right direction and serves as a reminder of the power of international cooperation and action in addressing global environmental challenges.

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