World Ozone Day: An Environmental Good News Story

Sept 16th was World Ozone Day. I heard nothing about it until today, Sept 17th.

If I did not hear about it, it likely meant most people did not hear about it either. This is too bad because the UN created this day 32 years ago as a reminder of a huge environmental problem. The progress on this issue happened because the world, lead by Canada, got behind the problem of the thinning of the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is approximately 10-40 km above the earth and forms a shield that protects the earth against UV rays in the stratosphere.

A hole had developed over Antarctica, meaning harmful UV rays could get through. Among other things, a high concentration of ozone can worsen respiratory and cardiovascular conditions and heat up the world.

These holes were created by HCFCs man made compounds including hydrogen, chlorine and carbon They are approximately 2000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Reducing their usage will help shrink these holes, in the hope that eventually they will close.

In 1987 the Montreal Protocol was signed by 197 countries. It is viewed as the most successful international environmental treaty to date.

Since then, many of the HCFCs have been phased out, reducing the concentration of gasses by 14%. It is expected they will reduce to their 1980 level by about 2045.

While the layer now in existence is still not at an ideal level, it has showed the positive result of coming up with a plan and having everyone work together on its implementation.

This success is a reminder that if people can develop a plan and work together, positive things for the environment can happen. In turn, it might inspire decision-makers to continue to act on other environmental issues and help naysayers change their out of date, self-serving environmental views.

Till next time,

Chris Snyder

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