What Happened to the Ozone Layer?

Toni Koraza

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If you're in your 30s or 40s, then you've probably heard about Ozone holes growing up.

Ozone depletion was the biggest environmental worry of the past century.

Environmental scientists visited Antarctica in the 1970s and discovered a growing Ozone hole forming over the pole. The media picked up the story. Soon after, the Ozone layer became the talk of the town. This environmental catastrophe crept into textbooks, movies, and tv shows. The future was a sun-powered frying pan.

We depleted Ozone by 50% of its total mass by 1987.

Why do I say 'we' as in humans?

Because we also fixed it. Ozone has been recuperating lately, and scientists expect it to recover by 2065 fully. This is why you don't hear about it on the news anymore. Ozone holes are not a looming problem anymore.

What is Ozone anyway?

The ozone is a gas layer that belts the planet and protects life on Earth. It deflects massive amounts of radiation and makes life on Earth possible. As we discovered in the 1970s, it's also fragile and susceptible to human influence. Science goes further, but let's keep it at this.

What created Ozone holes?

Hairspray, body spray, deodorants, a/c units, refrigerators, styrofoam, and many other inventions of the modern age operated using chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) gas. Sun would then break CFC into chlorine, leaving it to linger around long enough to destroy the Ozone.

How did we fix the Ozone?

Environmental scientists directed public attention toward a global problem. Doctors like Susan Solomon led environmental expeditions, attended congressional hearings, and spoke to the media. Eventually, they mounted enough pressure to force world leaders into creating a climate plan.

As a result, leaders got together in Montreal and created the Montreal protocol. This treaty outlined a strict plan to phase out CFC gas. Every country signed. Today, the Montreal Protocol is the most successful environmental legislation ever adopted.

CFC gas almost disappeared from daily use.

Ozone is now healing rapidly, expecting a full recovery during our lifetimes.

So why don't you hear about the Ozone anymore?

Because we, as humans, have united into changing the climate reality of our time.

Can we unite again to fight other aspects of climate change?

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