Report Shows Ozone Hole Could Heal in Our Lifetimes
The ozone layer is crucial for our overall survival by protecting us from the devastating ultraviolet rays of the sun that are constantly battering our planet. Without it, solar radiation would wreak havoc on our bodies, plant life, and pretty much all single-cell organisms. Since the 1970s, the ozone layer has developed a hole thanks to harmful chemical emissions, but according to a new report by the UN, it could be healed up by 2060. Thanks to a long-standing global initiative to ban ozone-depleting chemicals, the ozone hole has significantly stopped from spreading, and severe depletion in polar regions have been in decline.
In its fifth iteration, the report has been tracking the decline of the ozone layer since the 1980s. The ozone hole is potentiated by several harmful types of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons and hydro-fluorocarbons. Commonly found in aerosol cans, refrigerators, air conditioners, these harmful chemicals release chlorine into the stratosphere, where it breaks down ozone molecules that make up the total ozone layer. The hole is particularly notable in Antarctica, where a large hole began to emerge during the 80s.
Realizing this could become a dire situation for future generations, scientists and policymakers instituted The Montreal Protocol in 1987. This international treaty was designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of harmful substances responsible for ozone depletion.
Catching this problem early was the best thing we could have done, as now it this is the second time the ozone layer has been shown signs of healing. In fact, the ozone hole has been on the mend since 2000, and scientists are hopeful it will make it full recovery by mid-century. Some regions may return to normalcy even sooner than that. Areas over the Arctic and mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere could see a full recovery by the mid-2030s.
However, in order to reach this, the world will have to continue to work together to reduce ozone-depleting chemicals. Lately, there has been a mysterious increase in CFC-11 emissions, a substance that was banned under the Montreal Protocol. Research has shown emissions of this harmful chemical has been on the rise since 2012, and some signs point to China as being the culprit. Other factors needing to be considered is rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which can be detrimental to the healing process of the ozone layer.
With this new information, our civilization has the opportunity to reverse the damaging effects on our atmosphere, or any deviation could result in catastrophic consequences for the future of our planet.