On September 16th, the world celebrates World Ozone Day or International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This day commemorates the Montreal Protocol of 1987, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer on Earth by gradually disposing of the production of substances responsible for the ozone depletion.
Ozone depletion refers to the observed events in the late 1970s where the amount of ozone is lowering about four percent of the total amount of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere and a larger decrease in the ozone layer around Earth’s polar regions.This phenomenon is referred to as “the ozone hole”.
The main cause of ozone depletion is manufactured chemicals, such as manufactured halocarbons, propellants, solvent and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS). These chemicals are transported into the stratosphere after being emitted from the surface. Once in the stratosphere, these chemicals release atoms that would catalyse the breakdown of ozone into oxygen.
Ozone depletion has created a worldwide concern over increased cancer risk and other negative effects on every life on earth. The ozone layer prevents the harmful wavelengths of ultraviolet (UVB) light from passing through Earth’s atmosphere through absorption. Since ozone is responsible for the absorption of UV radiations from the sun, this meant ozone depletion would enable UVB radiations to penetrate and enter earth’s atmosphere easily. Increased UV radiation on Earth can cause serious health concerns for humans such as skin cancer, sunburn, permanent blindness and cataracts as well harming plants and animals.
And thus, the Montreal Protocol of 1987 was made to ban the production of such manufactured chemicals in order to mitigate the ozone depletion for the future of life on Earth. This international treaty would be ratified by 197 countries around the world and came into effect by January 1st 1989.
After the ban, the ozone levels stabilised by the mid-1990s and began to recover in the 2000s. As of 2019, NASA reported that the ozone hole was the smallest ever since it was first discovered back in 1982. The Montreal Protocol is considered the most successful international environmental agreement to date.
By being aware of the danger of ozone depletion, we are one step closer on protecting life on earth for future generations. By taking action on preserving the ozone layer together, we will be able to secure a good future waiting for us and the future generations. Let’s save the ozone layer and the earth as a means of giving back the kindness they have brought for us humans !
As stated by the United Nations, the theme for 2022 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is Montreal Protocol@35: global cooperation protecting life on earth.
The theme recognises the impact of Montreal Protocol regarding climate change and the need to act in collaboration, forge partnerships and develop global cooperation to address climate challenges and protect life on earth for future generations.