The Montreal protocol is a model of cooperation. It is a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem, both in terms of its causes and its effects. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN
Yes, the good news today is that a panel of scientists gathered by the United Nations confidently predicts the ozone layer is on track to fully recover from its depletion. The not-so-good news is that it’s going to take a while–four decades.
Yet it shows what’s possible when countries come together and achieve what’s so lacking in this warming world of ours—unity. Something miraculous called bipartisanship!
From this unity will come a lessoning of skin cancer and cataracts, less disruption of marine ecosystems and greater agriculture productivity.
These will be the results of a repaired and reinvigorated ozone layer more effectively filtering out harmful ultraviolet radiation.
That’s what it’s going to take to temper the deadly effects of climate change, curtailing and hopefully one day eliminating the devastating floods, savage storms and raging forest fires it triggers.
In a recent assessment of the progress of the Montreal Protocol, the 1987 agreement between over 180 countries to phase out the chemicals causing ozone depletion, it was found there has been almost a 99% reduction in emissions of ozone-damaging substances banned by the agreement.
That is allowing the ozone layer — a section of the stratosphere that contains high concentrations of ozone, or trioxygen (O3), which absorbs ultraviolet (UV) rays — to recover, albeit gradually.
The phenomenon of ozone depletion was first discovered in the 1970s and the United States banned “nonessential” CFC use in aerosol spray cans in 1978, but the 1984 discovery of a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica spurred the international community to act more aggressively.
If present trends continue, the assessment projects that the ozone layer’s average thickness will be returned to 1980 levels by 2040.
There is currently a 8.91-million-square-mile hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but thankfully that hole has been shrinking since 2000.
The United States has been a leader within the Montreal Protocol, taking strong domestic action to phase out the production and consumption of ODS such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons.
With full implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans born between 1890 and 2100 are expected to avoid 443 million cases of skin cancer, approximately 2.3 million skin cancer deaths, and more than 63 million cases of cataracts, with even greater benefits worldwide.
Yes, Bipartisanship power!
It’s truly amazing how powerful can be bipartisan support as displayed in negotiating the Montreal Protocol after evidence began to surface in the 1970s that CFCs used in everyday household products such as air conditioners and refrigerators, were depleting the Earth’s protective ozone layer and increasing the level of ultraviolet radiation reaching our planet’s surface.
The United States, along with allies and stakeholders, advocated for strong controls on the production and consumption of ODS, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons; promoting international cooperation; and building consensus to phase out ODS.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved U.S. ratification of the Montreal Protocol in 1988, and the treaty has continued to receive what has been so empowering over the past thirty years– bipartisan support.
As an avid beach walker when he’s not writing books, like his latest WORDSHINE MAN, Tom Madden is concerned about the sun’s effects on skin, so he was eager to share this story. When not beach walking or writing, he’s running his PR firm TransMedia Group, serving clients worldwide since 1981.