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Healing The Ozone Layer

A refrigerator factory in 2018 in Xingfu, China, an area that defied restrictions on ozone-depleting CFC-11 until a government crackdown. Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

The ozone layer in our atmosphere absorbs ultraviolet light from the sun that could damage life on earth. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it became evident that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners, were destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere.

The Montreal Protocol banning CFCs was adopted unanimously in 1987 by the nations of the world. Production of CFCs was banned, and they began to disappear from the atmosphere. The ozone holes that had been observed over the earth’s poles narrowed. But in 2012, CFCs began to increase again.

Long story short, they were being produced in China. Continuing atmospheric monitoring, part of the Protocol, showed that. The measurements and likely source were publicized, and, without fanfare, the levels of CFCs started going down again.

This is the kind of thing we are going to have to do for carbon dioxide. It will be much more difficult, because there are so many sources of carbon dioxide and wealthy beneficiaries who are fighting to keep the status quo. But we have the CFC success to look to.

The New York Times reports. Gift link, should get past the paywall.

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner

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