Ozone healing provides refreshing environmental crisis news

The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has been a symbol of global warming since scientists first noticed it in 1985. A recent report by the United Nations, however, states the ozone layer is on the road to full recovery. This steady improvement would not be possible without the ratification of the Montreal Protocol. 

The Montreal Protocol was globally signed and ratified in response to discovering that the man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, often referred to as CFCs, formed the hole in the ozone layer. This protocol was set in place to ban CFCs — which could be found in things like aerosols and refrigerants — around the world. 

In an article for Vox called “Why the ozone hole is on the track to be healed by mid-century,” writer Kelsey Piper says the protocol was “the most effective international environmental treaty ever implemented” and that it helped phase out 99% of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, such as CFCs.

The U.N. report found that if CFC-banning policies remain in place, the overall ozone layer should return to its 1980 level by 2040, with the thinner Arctic ozone recovering by 2045 and Antarctic ozone recovering by 2066.

The Montreal Protocol details step-by-step guidelines and regulations unique to each country’s economic development to phase out these chemicals. 

According to the U.N. Environment Program, responsibilities vary from country to country and include provisions related to “control measures, control of trade with non-parties, special situation of developing countries, reporting of data, non-compliance, technical assistance” and other topics.

The reversal of CFCs’ negative effects on the ozone layer would not have occurred without the ratification of the Montreal protocol.

 If the ozone layer was destroyed, ultraviolet radiation would wipe out life on earth. UV ray exposure not only causes skin cancer, cataracts and immune system issues in humans, but it also decreases crop production and aquatic life. 

According to an article in Green Matters by Lizzy Rosenberg, if society continued using these ozone-depleting chemicals, the amount of holes in the ozone layer would increase above the Arctic and Antarctica.

The global support and participation of the Montreal Protocol is the main reason for the Montreal Protocol’s success. So why do other environmental treaties struggle to gain support, specifically in the United States? 

As the Montreal Protocol has shown, the more countries that are involved, the more successful environmental treaties are. However, politics play a major role in the decisions concerning agreements on climate change.

In 2017, former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change, because of economic burdens on American workers. President Joe Biden brought the U.S. back into the agreement in 2021 to reduce the effects people have on global warming. Overall, 194 parties have joined the Paris Agreement. 

Lindsay Maisland, D.C.-based writer, explained how politics play a role in climate change treaties in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations, noting that when negotiators meet for international climate discussions, the contention is less about the science and more about what aspects of the issue to prioritize.

The healing of the ozone layer is refreshing news amidst the chaos of the environment’s health today. Significant positive impact can occur when countries work together to increase the environment’s health. 

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