EDITOR’S NOTE: Our Youth Corner columns are written by area high school students and cover a variety of local and national issues. The opinions expressed in the column solely represent the author and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of this newspaper.
Global research conducted every four years by the United Nations has revealed that the Earth’s ozone layer is rebuilding.
After discovering a hole over the South Pole in the late 1980s, the ozone layer has been one of the largest debacles regarding Earth’s environmental status. After discovering the hole in the ozone, the Montreal Protocol was swiftly enacted in 1987.
This protocol would ensure that there was a global phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons. These gasses are found in aerosols, refrigerants, air conditioning, and more.
When hydrochlorofluorocarbons are used, they can cause catastrophic reactions between particles. These interactions between hydrochlorofluorocarbons and ozone molecules slowly damaged the ozone layer, and with enough damage, the layer would be lost. Consequently, this would increase the risk of ultraviolet rays to the environment and humans, resulting in skin cancer, extreme sunburns and more.
However, due to protocols like Montreal, and Kigali amendments, the ozone layer is estimated to be completely restored by 2040, yet the Arctic will be fixed by 2045, and the Antarctic by 2066.
With the Montreal Protocols, the Executive Secretary of the UN Environment Programme’s Ozone Secretariat, Meg Seki, said, “Over the last 35 years, the protocol has become a true champion for the environment. The assessments and reviews undertaken by the Scientific Assessment Panel remain a vital component of the work of the Protocol that helps inform policy and decision-makers.”
Seki highlights the success of the Montreal Protocol and reaffirms its significance in the fight against climate change. Through the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the Earth has reduced a 1 degree Celsius increase in our Earth’s global temperatures. Scientists warn that an increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius would drastically increase the risks of natural disasters such as floods, fires, droughts, and food shortages.
Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization Petteri Taalas explained why the restoration of the ozone was dire.
“Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done as a matter of urgency to transition away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gasses, and limit temperature increase.”
Taalas emphasizes the idea that the ozone’s recovery can act as proof to … society that environmental issues are manageable, and the only way to fix environmental issues is by banding together.
On Jan. 15, 2022, Hunga TongaHunga Ha-apai, a submarine volcano in the Tongan archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean,. erupted, and the powerful blast released an alarming amount of water vapor, aerosols, and ash; the three main contributors to the environmental crisis. Additionally, China’s sudden increase of CFC-11, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon used in foam insulation and refrigerant, violated the agreements of the Montreal Protocol. China delayed restoration by a decade; however, it was only by a year due to the Chinese government cracking down on the use of CFC-11, and eliminating its use in 2019.
Due to the effects of volcanic eruptions like Hunga Tonga and the increased use of CFC-11 in China, the levels of ozone recovery have not been steady. Throughout these struggles, the effort to restore the ozone remains, and the estimations for full ozone recuperation stand strong.
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