Report Shows That Ozone-Depleting Gas Is On The Decline
When it comes to keeping our planet healthy for our own survival, we cannot forget about the ozone layer in Earth’s atmosphere that protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation produced by the Sun. While ozone-depleting gases had been on the rise in recent years, they are now declining.
Back in 1976, scientists discovered the ozone layer was being depleted due to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals found in aerosols and other products manufactured by corporations.
A hole in the ozone over the continent of Antarctica was a cause of great concern, not just among the scientific community, but the rest of the world population. This concern resulted in bans of CFCs by the United States and other nations beginning in 1978, and the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which has been signed by every country in the world.
The protocol banned CFC production after 1995 in developed countries, including China.
And for years, the bans have worked as the ozone layer has been repairing itself. Unfortunately, one nation apparently violated the protocol according to Dr. Stephen A. Montzka, a research chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dr. Montzka and colleagues reported in 2018 that worldwide CFC-11 emissions were rising, following years of steady decline as new production was outlawed and most emissions came from existing foams as they aged. If the emissions increase continued, they said, that would slow progress in restoring the ozone layer, which protects living organisms, including humans, from harmful solar radiation.
The 2018 study suggested the source of most of the rogue emissions was East Asia. Additional research this year pinpointed the source more closely, suggesting that at least 40 to 60 percent of the increased emissions were coming from eastern China. Several investigations, including one by The New York Times, found evidence that factories in that part of China were making the gas or using it to make insulating foams.
Of course, China denied the allegations but has since quietly blamed illegal CFC production as the cause of the rise in these ozone-depleting gases. China even released a plan on how the government is dealing with the problem.
Among other things, the government said it had stepped up monitoring and enforcement efforts, supplying inspectors with equipment to instantly detect the presence of CFC-11 and building six regional testing laboratories. The report also detailed the destruction of several CFC-11 factories, including one in Liaoning Province that was situated behind a seafood-processing facility.
The problem is that none of the factories cited were capable of producing the amount of CFCs detected. So, it’s still a mystery where the gases came from despite the welcome decline.
“The good news is, the report this morning shows emissions now going down significantly,” Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development president Durwood Zaelke said in a statement. “China is clearly taking the issue very seriously and responding well. But that’s not where the story ends.”
Indeed, the world deserves to know if China purposefully violated the treaty and how so measures can be taken to prevent such a breach from happening again. The ozone layer is too important to not protect.
Our world is already dealing with rising global temperatures. The last thing we need is to worry about being bombarded with harmful radiation as well.
Featured Image: Wikimedia