What’s behind the International Day for the preservation of the ozone layer
12 september '22
Words by Rebecca Pollard
Picture by Arthouse Studio
The origin and importance of ozone layer protection
The Earth’s ozone layer’s role is to protect the Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which, in large amounts, could seriously harm all plant, human, and animal life. To break it down, the ozone layer’s depletion increases the risk of skin cancer and cataracts in humans, as well as weakening human immune systems, decreasing agricultural productivity, and negatively affecting sensitive aquatic organisms and ecosystems.
In 1985 the nations of the world first negotiated a framework for ozone protection called the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone layer, which took place in response to scientific evidence showing that man-made chemicals, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), posed a serious threat to the stratospheric ozone layer. Sometime later, it was found that these CFCs were responsible for creating a hole in the Antarctic ozone layer. In response to these scientific discoveries came the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
When disaster meets policy:
the Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international agreement that regulates the production and consumption of nearly 100 man-made chemicals referred to as ozone-depleting substances. The Montreal Protocol works as a framework to phase out the use of these environmentally harmful substances by use of different timetables for developed and developing countries. This allows them to have equal responsibilities that are arranged according to different timeframes.
This method of phasing out CFCs has proven successful in preserving the ozone layer, but the treaty is constantly amended due to new scientific, economic, and technological advancements.
Picture by Thom Gonzalez
Picture by Cottonbro
In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Although the Montreal Protocol has dramatically reduced ozone-depleting chemicals (CFCs) and the ozone layer has begun to recover, some recently discovered challenges may demand further amendments. This July, scientist, Qing-Bin Lu, revealed the discovery of another ozone hole over the tropics that is roughly seven times greater than the Antarctic ozone hole. This discovery poses a great threat to life on earth, considering that the tropics constitutes 50% of the planet’s surface area, and around 50% of the world’s population. In this way, environmental awareness on topics such as this is important for each world citizen. The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is important to remind us that our efforts must be persistent if we are to see any positive changes.
Ozone day’s theme for 2022
Each year, a different theme is chosen for Ozone Day and this year’s theme is Montreal Protocol No. 35: global cooperation and protecting life on earth. This theme recognizes the collaborative effort that is essential for tackling environmental problems such as climate change, to protect the planet and all life residing on it. It highlights the importance of environmental awareness and its positive impact on the planet.