Ozone for Life
35 Years of Ozone Layer Protection
In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16th September as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, to commemorate the date in 1987 on which the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed.
Refrigeration and air-conditioning are crucial for our health, nutrition, comfort and well-being. Several commonly used chemicals (halocarbons and Ozone-depleting) have been found to be extremely damaging to the ozone layer. Life on Earth would not be possible without sunlight. Sunlight makes life possible, but the ozone layer makes life as we know it possible.
British Antarctic Survey article in May 1985, brought the awareness about the “ozone hole” over Antarctica, a phrase first attributed to Nobel Prize winner Sherwood Rowland. The ozone hole is threatening to increase cases of skin cancer and cataracts, and damage plants, crops, and ecosystems.
Ozone is a form of oxygen with the chemical formula O3, and the oxygen we breathe is O2. Ozone constitutes a tiny part of our atmosphere, with most of it (90%) residing high up in the atmosphere, between 10 and 40km above Earth’s surface.
When a halocarbon molecule reaches the stratosphere, it eventually absorbs UV radiation, causing it to decompose and release its chlorine atoms. Each of such halogen atoms can destroy several thousands of ozone molecules and disrupt the delicate chemical balance that maintains the ozone layer, causing Ozone to be destroyed faster than it is created.
When undisturbed, the balance between the natural processes of ozone production and destruction maintains a consistent ozone concentration in the stratosphere.
Unfortunately, we, humans do not leave this natural process undisturbed…
Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is healing and expected to return to pre-1980 values by mid-century. Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the UN to have been ratified by all the countries.
World Ozone Day is a celebration of this achievement. It shows that collective decisions and action, guided by science, are the only way to solve major global crises.
Yes, the world did it. Came together and with resolve solved the problem. It gives hope, with determination and cooperation from all and developments in Science and Technology, the “World can Avoid”. There are many challenges, like climate change are waiting to be avoided.
When the world is struggling to cope up with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ozone treaties’ message of working together in harmony and for the collective good is more important than ever.
Humans created, destroyed and more importantly realised, came together and avoided.
Hope Humanity would raise, and the world would avoid!
Toons: Reema Jaiswal and Anusha
Blog: Sai Baba