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Science & Technology

Ozone layer could be fully healed by the 2060s

By T.K. Randall
November 6, 2018 · Comment icon 21 comments

It's good news all round for the Earth's ozone layer. Image Credit: NASA / Terry Virts
The protective layer is improving so rapidly that it could heal itself entirely within as little as 50 years.
The news comes courtesy of a new United Nations report which has hailed the ozone's recovery as an example of what can be achieved when the world works together to tackle environmental issues.

Scientists first noticed that it appeared to be thinning above Antarctica back in the 1980s, a worrying trend that was linked to the presence of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) in hair sprays, refrigerators, air conditioning systems and other similar products.

The discovery that these chemicals were responsible for depleting the ozone layer led to a significant reduction in the manufacture and use of CFCs in the hope that this would slow down or even reverse the damage that they had been causing.

As it turns out, these efforts were not in vain.
"Evidence presented by the authors shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3 percent per decade since 2000," the UN wrote.

By the 2030s, the ozone layer is expected to have fully healed over the Northern Hemisphere and by the 2060s, the rest of the world - including Antarctica - should also see full ozone recovery as well.

"The Montreal Protocol (which was responsible for decreasing ozone-depleting chemicals) is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason," said the UN's Erik Solheim.

"The careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years and was set to heal our ozone layer is precisely why the Kigali Amendment (which aims to decrease global warming) holds such promise for climate action in future."

Source: United Nations | Comments (21)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by RoofGardener 6 years ago
Simple; the more ozone, the greater the pressure for global warming. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by Doug1029 6 years ago
Restoration of the ozone layer through international cooperation gives hope that something similar can be done with global warming. There is one BIG difference, however:  restoring the ozone layer required only outlawing one small class of products:  CFCs.  AND:  there were substitute products available.  Conversion was quick and easy.  That is not going to be the case with global warming. Doug
Comment icon #14 Posted by Doug1029 6 years ago
I think you are jumping off the deep end here: The people problem will solve itself, given time.  World populations will top out around ten billion about the end of this century.  That's 30% more than there are now, so there is going to be severe pressure on resources.  After peak population, human populations will begin a long, slow decline, culminating in a sustainable population.  Most of this will be accomplished voluntarily by giving people better access to birth control.  Some will come about through disease.  War, with its destruction of resources, will be a wash. Death penalty fo... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Doug1029 6 years ago
CFCs are a catalyst in the destruction of ozone.  They affect the reaction, but are not a permanent part of it.  They are more effective in dry conditions, such as occur in polar regions during the winter when water freezes. Doug
Comment icon #16 Posted by Doug1029 6 years ago
The ozone-depleting chemicals, like CFCs and related compounds, are greenhouse gasses.  Fortunately, there are not enough of them in the atmosphere to have much effect on climate and they are gradually decreasing, so their long-term effects appear negligible. Ozone is a two-edged sword:  High in the atmosphere it is a shield against in-coming UV radiation.  At ground level it is a pollutant that causes lung diseases and damages plants.  Ozone is something we need to keep an eye on, but not something to be alarmed about. Doug
Comment icon #17 Posted by RoofGardener 6 years ago
And at all levels it is a highly potent greenhouse gas, with 10,000 times the potency of Carbon Dioxide  
Comment icon #18 Posted by Trenix 6 years ago
There is no lack of resources, we have the entire universe available to us. All we lack is innovation. Just pure fearmongering. So as I said, we lack innovation. So your solution? Regulation, which directly effects innovation. You are literally the problem and you don't even know it. What you suggest, will most definitely result in lack of resources, war, and illness. Keep trying to regulate those who make your life better and living in a bubble. Wind energy is cheap? I can't take you seriously. Are you being serious right now?
Comment icon #19 Posted by Doug1029 6 years ago
Take one quick look at the logistics of taking people elsewhere or bringing food, clothing, timber, etc. from some other planet.  First:  you're going to have to terraform that planet so it can produce things earthlings need.  By the time you can do that to just one planet, we will have reached peak population and be in a declining mode.  The resource crunch is already occurring and will continue over the next 50 years, at least. I see no shortage of innovation.  The wind energy industry has developed entirely within my lifetime.  So has solar.  And there are better things on the horizo... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Trenix 6 years ago
I've heard this fearmongering so many times that it isn't funny. I remember hearing in 2020, we'll need two planets to sustain ourselves. Now it changed to 2030 and now you're telling me in the next 50 years. While resources are finite, nothing is created or destroyed only changed. Nothing innovation cannot fix. As shortages occur, people naturally find other ways to sustain themselves. This cycle will never end, similar to your fear mongering. Take a course in economics... for crying out loud. You do realize you just said an oxymoron, right? If wind energy were to be cheaper, everyone would s... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Doug1029 6 years ago
No.  I'm not telling you we'll need two planets in 50 years.  2070 or thereabouts is when we expect human populations to top out.  That will happen without any major efforts on our part because (1) resource shortages will limit population expansion in the least-developed countries, and (2) people in the more affluent countries will opt for smaller family sizes (already happening).  We can influence those a little, but mostly it will happen whether we do anything or not. All animal populations follow a more-or-less logistic growth model.  We're no different.  During the early part of the ... [More]

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