The Antarctic ozone hole appears to be closing, a recent study disclosed in Science Magazine.
The scientists who conducted the study believe that the elimination of chlorofluorocarbon chemicals (CFCs)—that caused the hole in the ozone—is leading to a decades-long healing process for the ozone layer. CFCs were phased out following the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a worldwide agreement to wipe out chemicals used in aerosol products, refrigerators and products used in dry cleaning.
The ozone layer is a buffer of gas that protects the earth from ultraviolet rays, which can contribute to skin cancer.
According to the scientists’ calculations, since CFCs stay around for 50 or 60 years, the hole could be completely sealed by 2050.
As we face climate change and other overwhelming environmental concerns, this study is a much-needed beacon of hope. It shows both that our planet is resilient, and, perhaps more importantly, that as humans, we have the capacity to come together and address common threats.
As Professor Susan Solomon (who led the team of scientists in this study) said eloquently in a statement, “We can now be confident that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal. We decided collectively, as a world, ‘Let’s get rid of these molecules.’ We got rid of them, and now we’re seeing the planet respond.”
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Image: Bob Bob/Flickr
Editors: Caitlin Oriel; Renée Picard