Did you know that back in 2000, September 16th was designated as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer by the United Nations General Assembly? We all know that the preservation of the ozone layer is such an important thing, so we decided to dedicate our weekly blog just to talk about it a little more.
The ozone layer, albeit a fragile shield of gas, protects life on Earth from the harmful rays of the sun by absorbing ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation. The ozone layer is a common term for the high concentration of ozone that is found in the stratosphere around 15–30 km above the earth’s surface. It covers the entire planet and helps preserve life on it. Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? That is why its protection must be one of those global common goals that we all need to work together to achieve. Life on Earth would be impossible without the sun, but the energy emanating from the sun would be too much for life on Earth to survive if it wasn’t for the ozone layer.
Atmospheric research in 1976 discovered that the ozone layer was being depleted by industrial chemicals, mainly chlorofluorocarbons. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (or HCFCs) are both ozone-depleting and powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to the thinning of the ozone layer and they are 2000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in regard to global warming. Soon after the atmospheric research, concerns grew that increased UV radiation due to ozone depletion threatened life on Earth and it was linked to skin cancer, genetic damage, and immune system suppression in humans and animals, as well as other ecological problems. These findings led to bans on the chemicals and later evidence showed that ozone depletion has slowed down or stopped. The controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances have not only helped protect the ozone layer for all future generations, but they have also contributed significantly to addressing global issues such as climate change.
The good news is that these global efforts to prevent ozone depletion show that stratospheric concentrations of ozone-depleting substances are declining. As a direct result of joint international action, the ozone layer is expected to recover to pre-1980 levels although it will take decades for this to happen. Some scientists believe that the recovery to pre-1980 levels could occur over the mid-latitudes by 2050 and over the polar regions by 2065, which is why it is important for everyone to realize that this is a global concern and we all must work together towards preserving life on our planet. September 16th is more than just the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, it’s a day when we need to look back on our actions and see what we can do to help preserve life as we know it.
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