And now for a hopeful environmental story about climate policy that worked… new U.N. data shows that the ozone layer is recovering, a major development for health, food security, and the planet. This is all thanks to humans around the world coming together to solve an environmental crisis. (Yes, you read that right.)
Let’s travel back to the 1970s. Atmospheric scientists measuring the thickness of the ozone layer, the layer of gas that blocks the sun’s radiation from reaching Earth, first noticed it was thinning. By the mid-80s, scientists discovered a hole in the ozone over the Antarctic and predicted that the ozone was on track to be wiped out in the next few decades. Sound alarm bells.
The world jumped into action with every country signing off on the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement banning the production and use of ozone-depleting substances. The protocol mostly focused on a class of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which contain ozone-depleting chlorine and were used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and aerosol cans.
Now, fast-forward to today—99 percent of ozone-destroying chemicals have been phased out and the ozone is on track to recover within four decades. Ozone levels between the polar regions are projected to reach pre-1980s levels by 2040. Ozone holes that appear regularly near the South Pole and less frequently near the North Pole should also recover by 2045 in the Arctic and about 2066 in Antarctica.
It will take time and the progress hasn’t come without setbacks, but the damage we caused the ozone is being reversed. The world’s response to the ozone crisis is proof of the power of collaboration. It’s the biggest environmental win we’ve ever seen, one that can inspire our response to the climate crisis. Let’s let that sink in.
Looking for more good news on the environment? We’ve got you covered. Check out how a brick and rock battery is changing energy storage, or how solar panels can help solve California’s drought.