The ozone layer is on track to heal completely by 2050

Scientists who played a significant role in reversing the damage done to the ozone layer win 2021 Future of Life Award

You’ve probably seen this graphic circulating social media this week:

The Antarctic Ozone Hole. Credit: Vox.com

If, like me, you were born in the 80’s (the 80’s), talk about the hole in the ozone layer was a huge part of your childhood. The ozone layer, a blanket of gas that exists between 10 and 50 kilometres above the earth’s surface, is vital for protecting humankind from the sun’s powerful ultraviolet radiation and harmful chemicals chemicals used in everyday products like aerosols, packaging and refrigerators, were causing it’s depletion.

I remember when chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were finally banned.

First, the Montreal Protocol – an international treaty – was put in place that cut the use of CFCs in half. That was in 1987 – just two years after the hole in the ozone layer was discovered. Then that treaty was strengthened to ban the use of CFCs altogether. Now, the use of CFCs is banned in 197 countries. This simple change in policy – and in turn, change in daily habits – has resulted in the slow recovery of the ozone layer.

Now, atmospheric chemist Susan Solomon, geophysicist Joseph Farman, and Environmental Protection Agency official Stephen Andersen, the three humans who played a significant role in reversing the damage done to the ozone layer, have been awarded the 2021 Future of Life Award from the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit that studies how to reduce risks to our world. The award recognises unsung heroes who made our world safer from global catastrophic events.

Solomon, Farman and Anderson won the award for “their critical contributions to the most successful international environmental treaty to date”.

Dr. Jim Hansen, former Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Director of Columbia University’s Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions said:

“In Farman, Solomon and Andersen we see the tremendous impact individuals can have not only on the course of human history, but on the course of our planet’s history. My hope is that others like them will emerge in today’s battle against climate change.”

In addition to preventing millions of excess skin cancer deaths, ecosystem collapse and climate change, this treaty showed that international collaboration can overcome environmental challenges without sacrificing economic prosperity. 

You can read more about their story at FutureOfLife.org or watch the video below:

Sources: Vox.com, Rapid Transition Alliance, nature.com, bbc.co.uk, UN, FutureOfLife.org.

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Charli Ferrand

Charli wrote her first novel at the tender age of 9, then dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional ballerina for a few years, before returning to her love of writing, acquiring a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Film & Broadcast from Cardiff University in the UK. A three-month holiday in Australia turned into a 11 year residency, during which Charli cemented her career in PR & Marketing Communications working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She also gained her citizenship, discovered her passion for sustainability and eventually ended up coming full circle, combining her professional skills with her love of the planet and oceans into her role as Editor-in-Chief of Earth Collective. A trained journalist, experienced communications professional and qualified Mental Health First Aider, Charli has her finger on the pulse of the latest political and environmental developments around the world. You can find her writing about current affairs, political activism and mental health.

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