November 25, 2021

Why you don’t hear about the ozone layer anymore

Finally, some good news about the environment.

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In the ’80s, scientists discovered there was a hole in the ozone over the South Pole. A significant layer of gas that deflects much of the sun’s radiation was disappearing much faster than anyone expected. Projections suggested it would collapse by 2050, increasing skin cancer rates, harming crops, and destroying the marine food chain. The situation was dire. But today, we are on the path to recovery.

Dr. Susan Solomon, among other scientists, contributed key findings to understand what was depleting the ozone layer and how to address it. In this video she takes us back to her expedition to Antarctica, breaks down how we managed to fix this huge problem, and looks at our next big environmental challenge — climate change — with the unbridled optimism that drove her to fix the ozone hole.

Further reading:

To learn about the scientific discoveries by Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland that kickstarted research into chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the ’70s, take a look at their groundbreaking paper here:
https://www.nature.com/articles/249810a0

To read the 1985 paper that revealed there was an ozone hole forming over the South Pole, click here:
https://www.nature.com/articles/315207a0

You can find Solomon’s 1986 paper on her Antarctica expedition here:
https://www.nature.com/articles/321755a0

To read more of Solomon’s work, check out her publications here:
https://eapsweb.mit.edu/people/solos

To understand the Montreal Protocol in more detail, read the United Nations Environment Programme’s summary here:
https://www.unep.org/ozonaction/who-we-are/about-montreal-protocol

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