Ozone Layer Healing According to New United Nations Report

 

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding environmental news these days, it's nice to hear about a good story come out for once.

According to a brand new report from the United Nations, the ozone layer - a region in the Earth's stratosphere which protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation - is slowly healing. 

“It’s really good news,” said NASA scientist Paul Newman, co-author of the UN report. “If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that."

Newman noted that if nothing had been done to stop the thinning of the ozone layer, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of the layer by 2065. 

The layer over the northern half of the world should be back to normal by the 2030s according to the report issued on Monday. The good news comes after decades of cooperation worldwide to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which scientists discovered were eating away at the ozone layer. 

The enormous hole in the ozone layer located over Antarctica will take longer to heal, scientists say. The hole will continue to appear over the southernmost continent until the 2060's. 

The ozone layer acts as a sort of sunscreen for the planet, and the life on it, shielding it from harmful ultraviolet radiation that is known to cause skin cancer, cataracts, suppress immune systems, and damage plants. 

The restoration of the ozone layer is thanks to the Montreal Protocol, which was signed by 196 countries in 1987 to limit production and sale of CFCs. Chlorofluorocarbons were found in refrigerators, and aerosol cans. Businesses came up with replacements for the CFCs.

"The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. "The careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years and was set to heal our ozone layer is precisely why the Kigali Amendment holds such promise for climate action in future."

Scientists point to the Montreal Protocol's success as a roadmap for governments around the world to work on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. 

"Carbon dioxide emissions remain by far the most important greenhouse gases which are driving global warming. But we can also help tackle climate change by reducing our commitment to other gases including HFCs. Every bit of warming matters,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

This year, scientists say the ozone layer peaked at nearly 9.6 million square miles, about 16 percent smaller than the biggest hole ever recorded (11.4 million square miles) in 2006. 

Photo: Getty Images

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