U.N. says Earth's ozone layer is healing from damage

Christopher Davidson
November 8, 2018

Case in point: The ozone hole, which if everything goes according to plan could be healed up by the 2060s, according to a new report from the United Nations.According to the report, a decades-old global treaty to ban ozone-depleting chemicals has led to their decline and "much more severe ozone depletion in the polar regions has been avoided".

"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, described the Montreal Protocol as "one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history". The consequences of such high-energy UV rays included higher incidences of skin cancers, cataracts, loss of immune systems and lower production of food on land and fish in the oceans.

It said the quadrennial review from the Scientific Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol would be discussed at the ongoing 30th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer in Quito, Ecuador's, capital city.

The decline in CFCs in our atmosphere as a result of those measures means the ozone layer is expected to have fully recovered sometime in the 2060s, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organization, European Commission and other bodies. Despite this rhetoric, many US businesses are cutting emissions and becoming more environmentally friendly because it is good for their bottom lines.

Now, a few decades since those agreements were galvanized, scientists believe that the ozone layer will indeed completely heal itself. It is the singularly successful outcome of the unique global agreement, that may inspire to take action on climate change. Besides dichloromethane, another highly concentrated chemical identified in the stratosphere includes 1,2-dichloroethane - an ozone-depleting substance used to make PVC, a popular construction material. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed.

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Next year, the Protocol is set to be strengthened with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, which calls for the future use of powerful climate-warming gases in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products to be slashed.

The Montreal Protocol followed soon after, and has become one of the biggest success stories for environmentalists. Even there too, it is slated to contribute immensely to the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016.

The hole was still "slightly above average size" this year, the report said.

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

Someday we should build a giant new Fridgehenge as a monument to one of humanity's great achievements; As Melissa wrote earlier this year, the Ozone hole is officially shrinking, proof that global treaties can be effective.

Don't give up; Collective and individual actions can change the world. The views expressed are personal.

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