Sparkle of Hope for the depleting ozone layer


40 years ago, it was reported that a hole had been formed in the ozone layer over Antarctica. This was a result of accumulation of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in the atmosphere. CFCs had been widely in use since the 1930s in spray cans, insulation and refrigerators. CFCs release chlorine atoms which attack nearby ozone molecules. The thinning of the ozone layer poses a great risk to human health. Skin cancer and cataracts can be caused by excess UVB radiation. It can damage plant and marine life. It can also reduce the productivity of crops like wheat, rice and soybean. 
CFCs are greenhouse gases that have a drastic impact of climate change resulting in global warming. A life saving protocol was concluded in 1985, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer, it was organized by the United Nations with countries who agreed to look further into ozone depletion. 
After two years, 197 countries signed the Montreal Protocol to the Vienna Convention with the commitment to phase out CFCs. The protocol has since been updated many times to include more harmful substances that damage the environment. The World Meteorological Organization at the beginning of this year announced that the gap in the ozone layer had closed. This was possible because of a phenomenon called the polar vortex. 
However in September 2021, the ozone had opened up. It was reported by the NASA scientists that this time it is bigger than usual. There is a glimmer of hope as because of the Montreal Protocol there has been significant reduction in ozone depleting gases in the atmosphere. However there needs to be regular monitoring of the ozone layer to ensure that it has recovered from the impact of CFCs. 


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