As the world celebrates the International Day of the Preservation of the Ozone for the 35th time, we look back at the history of global cooperation it took for leaders of different nationalities to stop the stratosphere from thinning.
But, what does the state of the ozone entail for the future of the planet in the midst of climate change? We have to know about ozone science first to know the answer to that query.
The Basics of the Ozone Hole
I’m pretty sure that graduating from high school means that one would have also probably come across the term “Chlorofluorocarbons” or CFCs, which may also be called Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). However, our understanding of this phenomenon usually ends here.
Contrary to popular belief, the ozone hole is not a longstanding phenomenon similar to climate change. It is actually a seasonal occurrence that happens every spring in the Arctic and Antarctic regions as they are the only places cold enough for the hole to be created. Colder winters mean bigger ozone holes.
Yet despite being a seasonal occurrence, the problem's implication made people alarmed by this scientific discovery. So, they bonded together in the same cause to restitch the stratospheric fabric that protects them from skin cancer and cataracts from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.
That 1987 multilateral collaboration was then named the Montreal Protocol. The protocol included the phasing out of products of aerosols, refrigerants, and air conditioning, as well as insulating foams that contained ODS.
Is the hole going to make Climate Change worse?
With that being said, climate change is also a large-scale phenomenon that will affect the state of the planet. However to answer the question: no the ozone hole will not make climate change worse.
While the hole may be massive for one to speculate such a question, we have to understand that it only allows additional ultraviolet light to reach the surface, not additional energy that is responsible for the change in climate.
By 2009, 98% of ODSs were phased out from products sold in the global market. The proliferation of the ozone-depleting substances was soon observed to decrease in the atmosphere.
A study published in 2017 on the assessment of ozone recovery using Chemistry-Climate Models (CCMs) and Chemical Transport Models (CTMs) found that the measures of the Montreal Protocol indicated a trajectory of recovery for the stratospheric blanket so long as monitoring of ODSs, Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and even CO₂ is practiced.
The ozone is said to complete its recovery by the end of the century or even as early as 2040. According to scientists, technologies such as geoengineering (a possible candidate for solving climate change) could release chemicals into the stratosphere, reverting the current recovery of the ozone layer. Simply put, the recovery of the hole will not cause further aggravation to climate change, it will, however, be possible for climate change to affect the recovery of the ozone – but that would be for another conversation.
The success story of the ozone layer tells us, as a society, that as long as we actually keep corporations and governments accountable for the damage they cause and ask them to repair their mistakes using the advice of science instead of blaming individuals, real, large-scale actions can actually be possible.
Ozone recovery has already been celebrated for the 35th time, when will it be the time for climate change?