30 years after the Montreal Protocol was signed, we finally have something to celebrate: the shrinking of the ozone hole.
The ozone layer protects us against harmful UV rays, but in 1984, scientists found a hole in the ozone layer caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in industrial gases, hairsprays, deodorants, insecticides and refrigerator coolants.
The Montreal Protocol was an international agreement negotiated in 1987 to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. And it seems to be showing signs of working, making it the world’s most effective environmental agreement yet.
There is evidence that the ozone hole continues to appear every year above Antarctica but it is showing signs of healing. At its peak size in 2000, the hole stretched over an area 3 times larger than the continental United States. But it has been shrinking, and experts say, this is due significantly to a reduction in ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere.
Things seem to be looking up for the planet, and scientists expect ozone holes of the future to get progressively smaller as anthropogenic emissions of ozone-destroying substances gradually reduce. The success of the Montreal Protocol indicates that international environmental treaties, if well articulated, negotiated and executed, can gradually repair the damage we've done to the planet.
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