The Ozone Hole
Written by Youthopeian's Hyderabad Chapter
The ozone layer, Earth’s natural protection from the Sun’s harmful UV rays has existed in our stratosphere for over 600 million years. Due to the spike in the emission of greenhouse gasses such as chlorofluorocarbons, commonly referred to as CFCs, our ozone layer has started to develop a hole. This hole is referred to as the Ozone hole and has brought about many concerns from scientists and environmental activists.
This hole at its peak was approximately 9.6 million square miles, roughly the size of North America, and has caused concerns among scientists. This led to the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987 where nearly 200 countries vowed to stop the use of CFCs and other harmful substances.
Chlorofluorocarbons, although banned, are still being used and found as coolants in refrigerators and aerosol sprays. Other contaminants such as halons which are used to fight fires in flammable liquids have also been banned due to their significant negative impact on the ozone layer.
Though the Montreal Protocol has seemed to bring significant change, in the first week of August 2021 the ozone hole has appeared and started to rapidly grow. It has grown to its average size since the 1980s. Scientists say that the fluctuations in the size of the ozone layer are natural and should not be of too much concern, adding that what truly matters is that the average size of the ozone hole decreasing.
Despite the efforts, the ozone hole has not recovered completely yet. Although CFC and halons have been banned, they continue to remain in the atmosphere, slowing the recovery of the ozone hole. Scientists estimate that the harmful substances in the atmosphere will take almost 40 years to completely disappear. They expect the hole to close permanently by 2050, almost 60 years after the signing of the Montreal Protocol.