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We Can Do It Again

Ben Lowe

                                                                              The ozone hole through the years. Image by NASA.


                                      The ozone hole through the years. Image by NASA.

A new assessment by 300 scientists, which was published jointly by the World Meteorological Association and the United Nations Environment Programme, reports that not only has the ozone hole stopped growing larger, but that it is "well on track to recovery" in the next few decades. What encouraging and inspiring news!

The ozone layer protects us and other lifeforms from harmful doses of UV radiation, which cause cancer and other health issues. A healthy ozone layer is key for healthy communities. In the 1970s scientists discovered that commonly used chemicals called CFCs could deplete the ozone layer. In 1985--when I was barely a year old--the ozone hole was discovered. That same year, major countries successfully came together and signed onto the Vienna Convention, which laid out the process by which, just two years later, a binding agreement was reached to phase out CFCs. The Montreal Protocol was signed on September 16, 1987, went into effect on January 1, 1989, and has since been ratified by all members of the United Nations along with Niue, the Cook Islands, the Holy See, and the EU.

And guess what, all along the way the CFC industry fought and lobbied hard against regulations, claiming that there wasn't yet enough evidence to warrant action. Just like some in the fossil fuel industry are still doing today when it comes to climate change. But instead of listening to those with a blatant and dangerous conflict of interest, the world listened to the facts, acted responsibly on ozone pollution, and put us on a good track that has been paying off ever since.

We did it then. We can do it again. I thank God for those who acted so successfully to protect and restore the ozone layer. And I pray that God will empower us to do the same with the changing climate today.

From the UNEP news release: "International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. "This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of climate change. This latest assessment provides solid science to policy-makers about the intricate relationship between ozone and climate and the need for mutually-supportive measures to protect life on earth for future generations."

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