According to a recently released UN report, the ozone layer is recovering from being depleted, first noted in the late 1970s and at its worst in the late 1990s.
Since then, with greatly reduced use of aerosol sprays and coolants containing man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the ozone layer has been recovering at between 1-3% annually.
While progress has been made and we have more to look forward to, we won’t be doing a victory dance for a totally restored ozone layer until well past the mid-century mark at about the year 2060, which is where your grandkids come in.
Starting at about six miles above earth and continuing for another 25 miles, the ozone layer protects Earth from UV rays that cause skin cancer, have been linked to causing cataracts, negatively affects plant development, the early growth of marine life such as fish, shrimp, crabs and more that reverberates down the marine food chain, and biogeochemical cycles such as those from greenhouse gasses.
Were it not for the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which phased out CFCs, we would be looking at a very different scenario – the destruction of two-thirds of the ozone layer.
But, there is one great unknown. Ozone depletion is a double-edged environmental sword. The ozone layer is one part; the other is the ozone hole, which is the amount of ozone in the stratosphere around our polar regions. It seems the depleted ozone hole (which peaks in the fall months; is gone in December; and returns in spring) has shielded Antarctica from the greater effects of global warming.
Scientists don’t know how the polar regions will fare with restored full ozone, especially in light of the many initiatives to halt and repair global warming, but they do know what a depleted ozone layer would do the Earth.
We should know what to expect fairly soon or, most certainly, by 2060.
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By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C strong> President, Metropolitan Valuation Services