The Ozone Layer Healing Itself Is Good News For The Fight Against Climate Change

Earlier today, we heard that the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is in the beginning stages of healing. The reason we're seeing this reversal seems largely due to the Montreal Protocol, which banned the use of CFCs in 1987. For those who don't know, CFCs release chlorine atoms when they're hit by ultraviolent light, which eats away at the ozone layer and is the reason the hole over Antartica grows during the continent's summer months and shrinks during the winter. This is not only great news for the environment, but it's also an encouraging development for the efforts against climate change.

Don't get it wrong: the ozone hole is still there and it's still pretty massive, but the healing we're seeing is in line with what we expected when CFCs were initially banned. If this trend keeps up, it's possible that the hole over Antarctica could seal itself back up by the middle of the century. That's absolutely huge, because there was once a time when ozone depletion was a major problem. Now, 30 years after recognizing the measures we needed to take to solve the ozone problem, we're talking about the possibility of this gigantic hole in the ozone layer sealing itself back up within our lifetimes. If that's not impressive to you, then I'm at a loss.

I'm obviously not a scientist, so I can't relate the healing of the ozone layer to the fight against climate change in any sort of scientific way, but I can compare the two on a human level: it's encouraging to see this because it serves as an example of humanity recognizing the damage it's caused to the environment, developing and acting on a plan, and then actually reversing the damage that's been done. If the same collaboration could happen with climate change, we might be able to pull off another awesome reversal like this.

We rolled up our sleeves, put our heads together, and figured out a solution to a problem that seemed larger than life, and as hopelessly optimistic as it may be, I think we can do it again with climate change. I'm not suggesting that there's a solution to climate change on the same level that there was for ozone depletion, because quite honestly I'm not knowledgeable enough in the area to be able to sit here and theorize on what we could do to reverse the issue before it gets away from us. People much smarter than me have said that decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels in a start, though, and after seeing the success human problem solving is having with the ozone layer, I'm willing to say that it's past time for us to listen.

There have been victories both large and small for green energy, but a transition doesn't seem to be happening quickly enough. We're still stuck in this gridlock where important people who can help us fix this problem (meaning the politicians who write our laws) deny that climate change even exists, even though the overwhelming majority of scientists say it does. These are the same scientists who are helping to reverse a hole in the ozone layer and potentially saving us from skin cancer. The same ones that helped develop vaccines so children of the modern era don't have to know what polio, smallpox, or measles are. The same ones that flew us to the moon, or developed medicine so I can enjoy having a cat without having an allergy attack every time I look at it.

This development with the ozone layer proves for the umpteenth time that science is capable of extraordinary things. Why, then, do we look on in awe when science shows us the surface of Mars as if we were on it, or cheer when we hear that we're reversing a hole in the ozone layer, only to turn around and hurl distrust and vitriol toward those same scientists who are trying to save humanity by telling us that we need to do something to stop climate change? I have never understood that. If you view the news about the ozone layer as something that's good, then it's time to begin trusting the science behind climate change and start calling for a solution to the problem.

The research paper on the ozone layer was published in the June 30 issue of Science under the title "Emergence of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer."