Healing The Ozone Layer

The ozone layer in our atmosphere absorbs ultraviolet light from the sun that could damage life on earth. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it became evident that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners, were destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere.

The Montreal Protocol banning CFCs was adopted unanimously in 1987 by the nations of the world. Production of CFCs was banned, and they began to disappear from the atmosphere. The ozone holes that had been observed over the earth’s poles narrowed. But in 2012, CFCs began to increase again.

Long story short, they were being produced in China. Continuing atmospheric monitoring, part of the Protocol, showed that. The measurements and likely source were publicized, and, without fanfare, the levels of CFCs started going down again.

This is the kind of thing we are going to have to do for carbon dioxide. It will be much more difficult, because there are so many sources of carbon dioxide and wealthy beneficiaries who are fighting to keep the status quo. But we have the CFC success to look to.

The New York Times reports. Gift link, should get past the paywall.

Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money

One comment

  1. Jonny · 15 Days Ago

    A line that popped out at me in the NYT article was from the head of the UN’s Environmental Program. Illegal production of CFCs was described as “nothing short of an environmental crime which demands decisive action.”

    As sea levels rise and places like Florida become undeniably uninhabitable, it’ll be interesting to see what diplomatic (or military) skirmishes happen over CO2 emissions. The financial stakes on both sides will create very stubborn people. London is low. All of the globe’s shipping ports are low. It’s not economically feasible to relocate all of those cities and infrastructure, so I suspect their wealthy owners will seek to crush CO2 emitters by any means necessary. Do countries start bombing their neighbors’ coal infrastructure? Does Brazil get sanctioned for cutting down the world’s lungs?

    Hopefully clean alternatives get cheaper, and economics will force transition rather than ugly conflict.


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