In a recent study, the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018, reported that the “concentration of ozone-depleting substances continues to decrease". After years of attempted change, results are beginning to show as the layer recovers
What led to this problem?
The ozone is in the stratosphere and is the layer that protects earth from “harmful layers of ultraviolet rays from the sun”. Over several decades, humans have released toxins and substances from Earth and into the atmosphere that thin the layer and deplete the protection we have from the powerful sun. As the layer diminishes, the harmful rays reach Earth with a higher and more dangerous intensity causing a multitude of issues on our planet’s well-being.
About 30 years ago, an international agreement, the Montreal Protocol, was signed to combat the problem. The Protocol required developed and developing countries to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a compound found in aerosol sprays and refrigerators, and over 90 other ozone depleting chemicals.
Did the Montreal Protocol work?
Yes! Its success has shown throughout the years by the improvement in the atmosphere and now, in the status of the ozone layer. The report released on November 4th shows us that the restrictions set up in the Montreal Protocol have allowed the ozone layer to rebuild and begin to heal. According to National Geographic, studies have shown that the ozone layer would have collapsed by 2050 if the Montreal Protocol were not agreed upon.
Even though it took some time to see the results, the study shows that banning CFCs and other substances really does make a positive impact on the environment. The image below depicts the ozone layer before and after the Protocol (notice the growth after 1987). Similar agreements and restrictions in the future could mean a future with sustainability and respect to the place we call home.
What does this mean for us today?
The UN report provides hope for the future and proves that environmental restrictions and actions do make a difference. The changes countries agreed on and humans made have shown that they really do work. If nothing had been done, the ozone layer may have been too far gone by now to fix.
Thanks to the environmental efforts of the past and present, we are able to repair what was once ruined by previous generations.
Is there more to be done?
Yes, there is still a long way to go until we have reached a community that gives as much as it takes from Earth. The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that record fossil fuel “production levels are largely attributable to increase production of natural gas and crude oil” in 2018 and 2019. Even though the report is promising for a better future, environmental work is far from done. In the United States, carbon dioxide emissions are 16.49 metric tons per person which is about 4x the world’s emissions.
The changes made in the past proved to work as it can be seen in the results from the recent report. However, there are still many other unsustainable actions that need adjustments and attention to the problems they cause in the status of the planet. If this report means anything to us, it’s that environmental change does work, and we should continue to implement agreements and changes that can lead to a more sustainable future.
Photo Credit: Flickr