The ozone layer is a thin part of Earth’s atmosphere that is responsible for absorbing the majority of harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. In the early 1980s, a new phenomenon called the ozone hole appeared in this layer. According to NASA, the ozone hole isn’t necessarily a “hole”, but a region of extreme depletion in ozone levels located over the arctic in the Southern Hemisphere. This area in the stratosphere contains 220 or less Dobson Units of ozone. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been identified as the main cause for ozone depletion.
For 30 years, countries around the world have worked together to eliminate the use of CFCs, or chemicals containing atoms of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon that are often used in aerosol sprays and as refrigerants. When released into the atmosphere, the bond holding the chlorine atoms together in CFCs is broken by ultraviolet light. These free chlorine molecules react with oxygen in ozone molecules, causing them to break down. While ozone depletion isn’t a major cause of global warming, it still poses a number of issues. Ozone depletion leads to an increase in UV rays that touch the earth’s surface, causing a disruption in biological processes.
Although the ozone hole is far from being gone, it has been reported by the United Nations (UN) to be healing according to recent findings of the scientific assessment. If the recovery continues on its current path, ozone levels should return to normal by the year 2040. Scientists say that CFC emissions have declined since 2018 after unexpectedly increasing for many years.
Despite this good news, the climate change fight is still far from over. If anything, the healing of the ozone hole just proves how much of a change people can make if we work together. Regardless of cause, climate change is a huge issue that needs to be better addressed and taken more seriously. Even doing small things to lower your carbon footprint makes a difference.