Time Heals All Wounds: The Recovering Ozone Layer

It’s taken 30 years, but scientist have finally ascertained measurable evidence of ozone recovery over Antarctica. Previous studies had determined that the general health of the ozone was improving, but none of the data clearly defined the condition of the Antarctic ozone hole. It appears to have shrunk by more than 1.5 million square miles since its peak in 2000; however, scientists project that it wont be fully recovered until the middle of the century. The study also confirmed that the improvement of the ozone was largely because of the ban on CFCs by most countries in the Montreal Protocol, meaning that the degradation, too, was largely caused by the initial human activity of releasing the CFCs. Many scientist, both involved and uninvolved with the study, believe it proves the Montreal Protocol has been a “resounding success.”

It took a catastrophe for the world to come together and agree to protect the planet. People’s behavior changed immediately to preserve the health of the earth back when the protocol was signed in the 1980s. So why is it so difficult for environmental preservation now that we are staring right into the ominous face of global climate change? If people act now, before another catastrophe, the earth will begin to heal just like it did after the CFC ban.

So there is hope for the earth to regain its health, but first, it will take a massive shift in behavior and then many years before the recovery is actually visible. There already has been a substantial global recruitment into the environmental movement (eg. Paris Agreement), and we have started the process to lessen our negative impacts that lead to climate change, but so much more is needed. Though it’s not economically, socially, or politically reasonable to stop all or almost all of global greenhouse gas emissions immediately as we did with CFCs, we can still improve on what we are already doing to combat the degradation of the earth. As soon as every country can solidify a significant enough improvement on their environmental actives and put them into practice, the healing process will start. Then, as supported by the ozone recovery research, all that’s left is to let to earth respond and heal by its own processes. The success of the Montreal Protocol should empower people to continue efforts now that recovery is a verified possibility.