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Scientists say the ozone may be fully healed within 50 years

Before climate change dominated headlines globally, our deteriorating ozone was the prime ecological concern. Decades later, scientists now claim a full recovery could be on the cards before the century’s end.

There’s belief bubbling that in the foreseeable future we may actually save ourselves… from ourselves.

Amid the constant, demoralising talk of how climate change is threatening the planet, here’s a report to galvanise yourselves and avoid existential dread on a Monday evening.

Earth’s ozone layer – you know, that atmospheric barrier between us and the Sun’s insane radiation levels – could be fully repaired within the next 50 years, according to recent reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has confidently made this prediction based on 3D renderings recorded at the start of the year. Before we get into that, however, it’s important to understand how this damage formed in the first place.

Before an international treaty called the Montreal Protocol came into effect in 1989 and limited their usage, CFC (chloroflaurocarbons) substances were all the rage.

Billed at the time as being non-toxic, cheap, and highly effective, these industrial compounds sprouted in the 1930s and became ubiquitously used within aerosol sprays, foams, packing materials, and solvents.

While manufacturers thought these were a dream for a profit margins, their high levels of chlorine and fluorine were binding with our atmospheric makeup for decades and wreaking havoc. Click here for our comprehensive breakdown of the policy.

Concentrations of the chemicals over Antarctica had previously been so strong, that a vicious cycle continues to open a hole above the region every year.

High polar clouds release the human-made compounds every September destroying ozone molecules and creating a rupture roughly the size of North America (24m kilometres). In all likelihood that hole is expanding as you’re reading this. Distressing, right?

On a more positive front, the levels of concealed CFC here are said to be dropping slowly as a result of a ‘significant milestone.’ NOAA has declared that since the treaty, overall levels of CFC in the mid-level of our stratosphere have declined by as much as 50%.

The 3D images recorded early in the year also suggest that CFC concentration over Antarctica has fallen 26% from its peak in the 1990s. This ‘slow and steady’ reduction has now stirred hope among those in the field that a full recovery is possible ‘sometime around 2070.’

Though there’s understandable optimism about our chances, the report rightly outlines that ‘ozone layer recovery is not a forgone conclusion,’ and is still largely dependent on ‘continued adherence to the production and consumption restrictions outlined in the protocol.’

In laymen’s terms, the ball is one again firmly in humanity’s court. We need to continue our holistic phaseout out CFCs, if we’re to fully reverse the mess we’ve made. Fingers crossed that we’re learning from our mistakes.

If you want to see detailed breakdowns of how ozone health continues to improve, head to the official NOAA report here.

 

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