Today is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

José Miguel Dias Meteored Portugal 26 minutes ago 8 min
Every year, on September 16, the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated.

Today, September 16th, we celebrate the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This date intends to emphasize the importance of the layer, considering the urgent need for its preservation.

This day was proclaimed through Resolution 49/114 adopted at the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) of January 23, 1995, in commemoration of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

the ozone layer

Ozone is a molecule composed of three oxygen atoms, which is present mainly in two regions of the atmosphere. About 90% of Earth’s ozone is found in the stratosphere (15-50 km altitude), the second layer closest to the Earth’s surface. This region with the highest amount of ozone is commonly called the “ozone layer”.

The ozone layer is then a natural layer of gas that protects all biological systems by absorbing part of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiationforming an invisible protective shield over the planet, without which life on Earth would not be possible as we know it.

“Hole” in the ozone layer over Antarctica begins to grow rapidly

'Hole' in the ozone layer over Antarctica starts to grow rapidly

It is known that atmospheric concentrations of ozone vary naturally depending on the temperature, climate, latitude and altitudewhich can be equally affected by substances released by natural or mixed events, such as Volcanic eruptions or forest fires.

However, the weakening observed in the layer could not support the thesis that these phenomena were the main causes of this problem, and the Scientific evidence has revealed that certain human-produced chemicals were the real cause of this weakening of the.

It is worth noting that most substances that deplete the ozone layer are also potent greenhouse gases. Some of them have a global warming effect even 14,000 times bigger than carbon dioxide (COtwo), the main greenhouse gas.

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These ozone-depleting substances were introduced mainly in the 1970s as a result of globalization and rampant consumerism. And it was precisely in this decade that a group of scientists realized that this layer was in a phase of serious weakening.

Thus, it was urgent to gather global efforts to regulate the production and use of certain chemicals. These efforts resulted in the joint signature of the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol

O Montreal Protocol is a multilateral environmental agreement, signed in September 1987, whose adoption is universal: 198 UN Member States have pledged to protect the ozone layer.

The agreement provided for adoption of measures to control the global production and consumption of chemicals harmful to the layer, which resulted in their progressive elimination. The best known are the chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s), of massive use in the 1960s, very present in air conditioning systems, spray cans and industrial cleaning products. The main goal was to end the use of 15 types of CFC’s.

“The Montreal Protocol has already contributed to tackling the climate crisis. By protecting plants from ultraviolet radiation, allowing them to live and store carbon, up to an extra 1°C of global warming was avoided” – António Guterres, UN Secretary General (12/07/2022).

Without a global consensus, we would have walked a path of no return in the preservation of the ozone layer.with all the effects that its destruction would mean, whether on human health, with the increase in certain types of skin cancers, or on the environment, with changes in ecosystems, food chains and biochemical cycles.

Evolution trends and future prospects

Today, the ozone layer shows signs of a slow recovery. After more than 3 decades of decline, layer thickness is increasing. This means that the depletion of the ozone layer is decreasing.

In a recently published new study, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) has come to the conclusion that global concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals have experienced a decrease of just over 50% in the stratosphere, to levels observed in the 1980s. According to NOAA, this decline “shows a retreat of the threat to the ozone layer.”

For NOOA, this “slow but steady” advancedue to implementation of international regulations and the global agreement for the imposing restrictions on chemicalsas is the Montreal Protocol.

Although slower, there was also a 26% decrease from 1990s peaks in concentrations over Antarctica, the region of the globe most vulnerable to this phenomenon. In 2021, the hole in the ozone layer was bigger than the size of Antarctica itselfbut NOAA predicts that the southernmost region of the globe can recover “mid 2070s”.

A large and rare hole in the ozone layer has emerged over the Arctic

A large and rare hole in the ozone layer has emerged over the Arctic

It is not foreseeable that the ozone layer will fully recover before the second half of this century. This is because, once substances harmful to the layer are released, they remain in the atmosphere for many years and continue to cause damage.

The fact is that the ban on hazardous compounds is having an effect and its full recovery “is expected only with marked declines in chlorine and bromine concentrations in the coming years and with continued adherence to production and consumption restrictions outlined in the Montereal Protocol” (NOAA).

“We have a choice: collective action or collective suicide” – António Guterres, UN Secretary General (12/07/2022).

Although the ozone layer has been out of the media coverage in recent years, the truth is that it is still under strong pressure, having a long way to go in its effective preservation and recovery..

O International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer serves not only the purpose of symbolically celebrating the date of signature of the global agreement, but also to remember the importance of this substance for our lives that, fulfilling its role of protecting the planet and its living systems from the potentially devastating effects of ultraviolet radiation, it allows us to preserve life.


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Today International Day Preservation Ozone Layer

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