The stratospheric ozone layer is the shield of gas that acts as a force field, protecting us, and had began depleting at the birth of the industrial revolution. The excessive output of greenhouse gases, specifically the commercial use of the man-made chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases in everything from spray cans to refrigerators.
Achim Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director said, “There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century. The Montreal Protocol – one of the world’s most successful environmental treaties – has protected the stratospheric ozone layer and avoided enhanced UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface.”
Other scientists who took part in the Assessment for Decision-Makers attribute the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the global environmental treaty that aimed to stop the production and use of ozone depleting substances, with the reasons the ozone hasn’t grown any more. Although it is believed that the ozone won’t return to it’s 1980’s level before mid-century, the scientists also warn that if further global effort isn’t made, what progress we’ve seen won’t last too long.
Steiner further went on to say, “However, the challenges that we face are still huge. The success of the Montreal Protocol should encourage further action not only on the protection and recovery of the ozone layer but also on climate. On September 23, the UN Secretary General will host Heads of State in New York in an effort to catalyse global action on climate. The Montreal Protocol community, with its tangible achievements, is in a position to provide strong evidence that global cooperation and concerted action are the key ingredients to secure the protection of our global commons.”
What this study highlights most is that a concerted global effort can have a positive impact on our environment. It also gives hope that if we act fast enough, we just might be able to help repair the damage we’ve caused the globe since the industrial revolution.
(Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library)