UN: Ozone layer slow healing; hole to be repaired by 2066

UN says ozone layer slowly healing, hole to mend by 2066

DENVER (AP) — Earth’s protective ozone layer is slowly but noticeably healing at a pace that would fully mend the hole over Antarctica in about 43 years, a new United Nations report says.

A once-every-four-years scientific assessment found recovery in progress, more than 35 years after every nation in the world agreed to stop producing chemicals that chomp on the layer of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere that shields the planet from harmful radiation linked to skin cancer, cataracts and crop damage.

“In the upper stratosphere and in the ozone hole we see things getting better,” said Paul Newman, co-chair of the scientific assessment.

The progress is slow, according to the report presented Monday at the American Meteorological Society convention in Denver. According to the report, the global average ozone level of 18 miles (30 km) in the atmosphere will not return to pre-thinning levels by 2040. And it won’t be back to normal in the Arctic until 2045.

Antarctica, where it’s so thin there’s an annual giant gaping hole in the layer, won’t be fully fixed until 2066, the report said.

Scientists and environmental advocates across the world have long hailed the efforts to heal the ozone hole — springing out of a 1987 agreement called the Montreal Protocol that banned a class of chemicals often used in refrigerants and aerosols — as one of the biggest ecological victories for humanity.

“Ozone action sets a precedent for climate action. Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done – as a matter of urgency — to transition away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases and so limit temperature increase,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

Signs of healing were reported four years ago but were slight and more preliminary. Newman stated that although there were some signs of healing four years ago, they have been more limited and preliminary.

Chlorine levels are now at lower levels than ever before.

Bromine, which is more efficient at eating ozone, is at lower levels in the atmosphere. According to Fahey, chlorine levels have dropped 11.5% from 1993’s peak and bromine levels have fallen 14.5% since 1999’s peak. Now, not only are the substances banned but they are no longer much in people’s homes or cars, replaced by cleaner chemicals.

Natural weather patterns in the Antarctic also affect ozone hole levels, which peak in the fall. And the past couple years, the

because of that but the overall trend is one of healing, Newman said.

This is “saving 2 million people every year from skin cancer,” United Nations Environment Programme Director Inger Andersen told The Associated Press earlier this year in an email.holes have been a bit biggerA few years ago emissions of one of the banned chemicals, chlorofluorocarbon-11 (CFC-11), stopped shrinking

. Newman stated that despite being detected in China, rogue emissions have been found. The new report says that the ban would avoid 0.5 to 0.9 degrees (0.3 to 0.5 degrees Celsius) of additional warming.

The report also warned that efforts to artificially cool the planet by putting aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect the sunlight would thin the ozone layer by as much as 20% in Antarctica.and was rising___

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