The Ozone Layer Of The Earth Is Finally Healing After Years Of Damage
The ozone layer is something we all studied about in school but there is more to it than we were taught. It is a protective layer hidden in our atmosphere and responsible for all the life on this beautiful planet. Had it not been for this layer, life on earth would not have been easy or pleasant.
It filters the rays of the sun and keeps dangerous and harmful UV radiation away from the planet. Over the years since the discovery of the ozone layer we humans have been damaging it unknowingly and over time had caused significant damage. But, thankfully we have fixed our mistake and the layer is now healing itself.
1The ozone layer
The Ozone layer is also known as the ozone shield and is located in the lower part of Earth’s stratosphere. It absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. This ultraviolet radiation is very harmful to all living life on the planet. Since the dawn of time, this layer has been protecting us while we have been destroying it.
2How was it discovered?
The layer was discovered in 1913 by Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson who were French physicists. They noted that the amount of radiation sent out by the sun wasn’t consistent with the amount of radiation received on the planet’s surface. This led them to the conclusion that most of it was being absorbed by a layer in the atmosphere.
3How have we been damaging it?
The ozone layer has been taking damage since the late 1970s. This is due to the sudden increase in industrialization which resulted in an increase in pollution. This pollution is directly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer. In 1985 Joe Farman, Brian Gardiner, and Jonathan Shanklin announced the significant depletion of the ozone over the Antarctic.
4The stunning discovery
It was recently discovered that the ozone layer has begun healing itself. Thanks to reports from the United Nations by 2030 the ozone hole over the Northern Hemisphere should be completely healed but the hole over Antarctica might take longer. Scientists estimate that by 2060 the hole over Antarctica will be repaired.
5What would happen if we lose the ozone?
The ozone layer is what is protecting us from the harmful UV rays of the sun. It is called the ozone shield for a reason. Without it, the amount of ultraviolet radiation the sun emits would make earth uninhabitable. The full effect of the ultraviolet rays of the sun would kill crops and cause eye damage and skin cancer in all living beings.
6Discovery of the damage
It was in 1974 that scientists discovered that the ozone layer was being damaged due to mankind. This damage was being caused by CFCs or chlorofluorocarbon gases which is a manmade gas. The people of that time did not know the danger they were putting the entire planet into by neglecting this damage. The effect this gas has had on the ozone layer is being seen today.
7What is CFC?
Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina were the two chemists who worked in a California university who were the first to publish their findings on the link between CFC and the ozone layer depletion in 1974. CFC is a manmade gas found in air conditioners, aerosol sprays, and refrigerators. This gas when in contact with UV rays breaks down to produce chlorine.
8How did this discovery help?
Thanks to this discovery the world learned that the ozone layer could only absorb a finite amount of chlorine. This incredible discovery helped the duo win the 1995 Nobel Prize. This led to the sudden shift in environmental protection. More emphasis was placed on trying to find a substitute for CFC gases as well as trying to lower the amount released into the atmosphere.
9How does CFC destroy the ozone?
According to scientists and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency all, it takes just one chlorine atom to destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules into oxygen. The issue comes up when the ozone is being depleted faster than it can be recovered. The ozone takes decades to repair itself as the process is very slow. Unfortunately, we were releasing too much CFC into the atmosphere.
10The discovery of the ozone hole
It was in 1985 when the hole was discovered over Antarctica that the mass media began taking the issue seriously. The hole in the ozone allowed more harmful UV rays to enter the atmosphere. The hole was caused because there was a very low amount of ozone present in that region. The ozone layer is not the same all over the planet and in some areas; the layer is a lot thinner.
The Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer was set up on 26 August 1987 and brought into action on 16 September 1989. This was meant to regulate the amount of substance we let out into the atmosphere that can destroy or damage the ozone layer. Thanks to this the amounts of damage we have been doing to the ozone layer have decreased drastically over the years.
12How did this help?
Thanks to the Montreal protocol the ozone layer is finally healing itself. We were able to control the amount of pollution we send into the atmosphere and now the hole over Antarctica is slowly recovering itself. Scientists claim that the ozone layer will return to the height it was in 1980 by 2050. This was the best-united effort the world had undertaken to save the planet.
13Had it not been set up
The Montreal Protocol was set up by 180 countries calling the treaty “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer”. This was a historical point in time when so many countries joined hands to work together for the greater good. Had this not been done then the US would have seen 45 million cataract cases, 280 million instances of skin cancer and 1.5 million deaths as a result of skin cancer.
14Three decades later
It’s been three decades since the treaty was signed and now we finally have visual proof of our efforts as a species. Since we started regulating the substances that are let open into the atmosphere, the ozone layer has been given a chance to heal itself. Since 2005, ozone depletion has reduced by 20%. In 2018, signs of the ozone recovering were released by NASA.
15The long road ahead
Unfortunately, the road ahead to complete ozone restoration is long and bumpy. There have been reports that some countries have not been keeping true to the treaty. Other reports suggest an increase in gases like HCFC or hydro chlorofluorocarbons which are less harmful but still do damage. The healing of the ozone layer is a remarkable sign but one we should not take for granted.