Hole in Ozone Layer Shrinks to Smallest Size in 30 Years

Monday, 06 November 2017 - 10:54AM
Monday, 06 November 2017 - 10:54AM
Hole in Ozone Layer Shrinks to Smallest Size in 30 Years
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Image credit: NASA
Here's a rare victory for the environment we can all celebrate: The hole in the ozone layer is the smallest it's been since 1988

Of all the current subjects to be regularly debated surrounding the often controversial topic of climate change, one thing that doesn't get discussed too often any more is the hole in the ozone layer.

One upon a time, this was one of the biggest concerns that scientists were worried about. The overuse of underarm deodorants and spray paints were, scientists argued, slowly dissolving the thick layer of O3, better known as ozone, which surrounds the planet and shelters us from the rays of the sun.

These days, the subject isn't talked about half as much as it used to be, for one very important reason: unlike many other issues surrounding pollution and man-made climate change, the hole in the ozone layer is actually, slowly, repairing itself.

Back in 1987, after the publication of a paper documenting the harmful effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other chemical compounds in regular use at the time, world leaders got together to assess the problem. A large hole was forming in the ozone layer, it was clearly humanity's fault, and by banning certain chemicals, it would be possible to avert catastrophe.

Positive action was taken, CFCs were banned, and now, 30 years later, the hole in the ozone layer is the smallest it's been in 29 years

Of course, the work is far from done. It'll take until 2070 for the hole in the ozone layer to shrink to the size that it was in 1980. O3 doesn't grow back overnight, and there's still a long way to go before the holes, around the planet's poles, will be completely filled in.

What matters, though, is that progress is being made.

Scientists estimate that if the landmark agreement to ban CFCs worldwide hadn't been taken, by today, almost 17 percent of the ozone would have been completely destroyed, and by 2065, our planet would have absolutely no ozone layer left whatsoever, effectively spelling the demise of our species.

That's a big sacrifice to make for a few cans of old-fashioned hairspray. (And that's really saying something, considering we agreed to cut back in the '80s.)

The success that we've seen in reversing the damage that's been done to the ozone proves that the world's governments can realistically work together to protect our species from our own self-destructive tendencies.

There's plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of pollution prevention—with many of the world's major polluters, including huge countries like China, now committing to using cleaner energy sources, if we all work together, we might be able to avoid the kinds of catastrophes that will inevitably ensue if we take advantage of our planet's resources.

If we're very lucky, and if we all work together, we might just be able to salvage our planet's delicate environment and avoid completely ruining this rock we call home.

We've stopped hurting the ozone layer; here's hoping that in the schools of the future, pollution will only be taught in history class.
Hole in Ozone Layer Shrinks to Smallest Size in 30 Years