Amid all the reports on climate change, global warming and environmental pollution, finally there is a piece of some good news. A study conducted by the United Nations revealed that the ozone layer that protects us from the cancer-causing solar radiation is showing the first signs of recovery. Notably, the ozone layer had been depleting for years.
Ozone layer recovery a major success story
Experts attribute this recovery to the historic 1987 Montreal Protocol that banned or phased out chemicals that damage the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. According to the U.N. Environmental Program, that agreement would help prevent more than two million cases of skin cancer every year through 2030. The ozone harming chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were once widely used in spray cans and refrigerators.
The ozone hole above Antarctica has stopped expanding every year. But scientists said the hole would start shrinking only after 2025. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the international action to protect the ozone layer is a major success story. For the first time, there are indications that the ozone layer is recovering, said WMO senior scientist Geir Braathen.
Ozone layer to reach its 1980 level by 2050
Experts expect the ozone layer to recover to its 1980 level by 2050. Above the Antarctica, where ozone layer was severely damaged, it would take until 2075. The recovery could be sped up by about 11 years if we destroy the existing stocks of ozone-depleting substances that are mostly stored up in fire extinguishers and old refrigerators.
Besides causing skin cancer, ozone destruction could destabilize the aquatic food chain, disrupt plant growth and harm wildlife. The largest ozone hole ever recorded measured about 30 million square kilometers in 2006. That hole still measures about 20 million square kilometers. The size of the hole varies, depending on the temperature in the upper atmosphere.
The report also said that the reduction of ozone-damaging substances will also help protect the environment because many of those chemicals have also been blamed for global warming.