Scientists around the world are cautiously optimistic about the possibility that the world’s ozone layer could be repairing itself.
According to reports from NBC News, a United Nations report from scientists around the globe is demonstrating that the ozone layer is healing at a rate that could see its total repair come about by the middle of this century. The Northern Hemisphere should see repairs by the 2030s, while the Southern Hemisphere could be repaired a couple of decades after. The enormous hole in the ozone layer, which sits over Antarctica, could itself be fixed by 2060.
The ozone layer is a gaseous combination of molecules, consisting of three oxygen particles put together. It hovers between 6 to 25 miles above the surface of the earth, and serves to protect the world from ultraviolet light coming in. Without its protection, crops could be damaged, and skin cancer rates would rise at a phenomenal rate.
Scientists first noticed the depletion of the ozone layer in the 1970s. The destruction of the layer was due to chemicals in coolants and household aerosol sprays that contained chlorofluorocarbons (sometimes shortened to CFCs). The Montreal Protocol of 1987 was a global effort that put an end to the use of those chemicals, according to the State department website, and companies around the world soon replaced those ingredients from their products.
The ozone layer is finally recovering from damage caused by aerosol sprays that were banned in 1987, says the UN. The layer, which protects us from cancer-causing solar rays, is replenishing by 1-3% per year. A hole in it over the Antarctic should close by 2060. pic.twitter.com/KhRA2GZFqC— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 5, 2018
At its worst point, around 10 percent of the world’s ozone layer was depleted in the late 1990s. Every decade or so, the report suggested, about 1-3 percent of the layer is replenished.
The results of the actions taken to combat ozone depletion speak for themselves. In 2006, the hole in the ozone above Antarctica reached its largest recorded measure, being 11.4 million square miles in size. Over the years and up to 2017, it has shrunk to 9.6 million square miles.
The shrinkage and possible repair of the ozone is indeed good news, but there’s still some problems. The warming of the planet continues, as the greenhouse effect continues to produce outcomes consistent with global climate change unrelated to the problems with the ozone layer, according to NASA.
In fact, as the ozone layer repairs itself in Antarctica, that area of the world will actually see itself get warmer — the ozone depletion in that part of the world actually staved off some of the warming effects of the greenhouse effect.
So wouldn’t it be better to not repair the ozone? No — it’s still necessary to repair the hole over Antarctica and depletion elsewhere, to save the world from the cosmic rays that can do significant harm.
The bad news is the world continues to get warmer. Yet the good news is that the ozone layer is getting fixed. As one problem starts to disappear, more effort can be concentrated on fixing the other problem in the future as well.