If you’ve paid attention over the last few decades, you’ll know that news about the ozone layer is usually pretty bad. Scientists have observed parts of the ozone layer that have thinned, such as over Australia, which has resulted in an increase of UV radiation threatening all living things — exposure is dangerous as it can lead to a higher risk in cancer in humans, for example.
The ozone layer has also thinned in over Antarctica and actually caused a hole, again acting as a huge threat to the environment and its inhabitants. The ozone layer is essential to humanity, because it absorbs harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
There are many causes of this depletion which have occurred over time, from natural wind in the stratosphere, to our own use of substances that deplete the ozone, such as aerosol spray cans and air conditioning. Those products contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) , which have chlorine in them and are very harmful to the ozone layer. They were very, very bad news for decades, but finally, scientists are showing us a little hope: An international treaty in 1987 banned the use of CFCs in refrigerator coolants and aerosols, and finally the world is seeing positive results.
According to scientists at MIT who have been monitoring the ozone hole above the Antarctic for the last thirty years, it is shrinking due to the decrease in CFCs. Susan Solomon is an atmospheric chemist at MIT, and she recently published this study about the healing of the ozone layer. As she told Gizmodo, “This is a reminder that when the world gets together, we really can solve environmental problems.” With challenges like climate change bearing down on the planet, this proof that we can have a positive influence on our environment.
Of course there’s a long way to go before the ozone layer recovers, but this is a step in the right direction.