NASA talks about why we have to protect the ozone layer

Shane McGlaun - Aug 27, 2021, 4:53am CDT
NASA talks about why we have to protect the ozone layer

Many years ago, one of the biggest concerns about our planet was the depletion of our ozone layer. The concern was so great that new laws were passed banning certain propellants in aerosol products to prevent the depletion of the ozone layer. With all the talk of global warming, we don’t hear much about the ozone layer anymore, but NASA is reminding us that we still have to protect it and talking about the world we avoided by doing so.

According to NASA, protecting the ozone layer also helps protect the ability of the Earth to sequester carbon, helping to reduce global warming. According to research from NASA, Lancaster University, and other groups, protecting the Earth’s ozone layer so far has protected the planet’s vegetation and prevented an increase of 0.85 degrees Celsius warming around the planet.

The ozone layer helps block UV radiation, and the study shows that the Montréal Protocol, which regulated ozone-depleting substances, has protected plants, which pull carbon from the atmosphere. According to the new study, the impact of plants hadn’t been accounted for in previous research on climate change.

Past research has simulated what Earth would’ve been like had there been no ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and found there would’ve been significant global thinning of the ozone layer had the world not acted in 1987. The new study revisited the question of what the world would have been like with no change, but this time looked at what would have happened to plants in the absence of the ozone layer.

Two hypothetical scenarios were investigated, including the result of a protected world and the world had CFCs not been banned. The worst-case scenario assumed increased CFC emissions at a rate of three percent every year from the 1970s on. That scenario found significant thinning of the ozone layer across the globe by 2050. By 2100 ozone holes formed in the tropics would’ve been more significant than the hole in the ozone layer observed in the Antarctic.

The depleted ozone would allow more UV radiation to hit Earth’s surface and prevented plants from storing carbon in their tissue and the soil. In that worst-case scenario, CO2 levels are estimated to be 30 percent higher than we currently see on Earth, leading to a planet that was 0.85 degrees Celsius warmer because of the impact on plants alone.


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