In 1985, a hole was discovered in the ozone layer. Ever since then, scientists have been on edge, trying to understand what this meant and what they could do about it. But recently, a new United Nations report has put them at ease. According to this report, the ozone layer should recover to 1980 levels by 2040. By 2066, the hole should completely heal.
The story starts with the Montreal Protocol. Two years after the ozone layer was revealed to be in bad condition, every nation in the world agreed to stop using a certain class of chemicals that contributed to ozone depletion. One such chemical was chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs). They were widely used in aerosol sprays and as refrigerants until scientists realized their harmful effects.
By banning this chemical, the protocol helped stop both the depletion of ozone and climate change, since CFCs are also greenhouse gasses. “Over the last 35 years, the Protocol has become a true champion for the environment,” says Meg Seki, U.N. Environment Programme’s Ozone Secreteriat’s executive secretary.
However, these chemicals still remain in the atmosphere, and will continue to for about a century. “You just have to wait for nature to do its thing and flush out these chemicals,” says scientist David Fahey.
Despite the good news, we still need to be careful. However, as long as we take measures to make sure that we don’t accidentally reverse this process, we are on our way to a better future.