Visualized: How We Fixed The Ozone

Aaron Foyer
How we fixed the ozone layer

One of humanity’s great environmental success stories has been fixing the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a layer of a molecule called ozone (O3) which lies 15-35 kilometers above the surface of the earth. It plays an important role in protecting humans from skin cancer, sunburns and blindness and protects other life forms as well.

Size of the Antarctic Ozone Hole Area

Through the use of ozone-depleting substances, humanity began breaking down the ozone. In the early 1980s, an enormous hole in the ozone was found over Antarctica, which eventually grew to 30 million square kilometers, three times the size of the Unites States.

Through international cooperation and agreements, the growth of the Antarctic ozone hole peaked and is now recovering.

Multilateral environmental agreements

In the mid-1980s, twenty countries signed onto the Vienna Convention to coordinate international regulations on ozone-depleting substances. Globally, it remains one of the most widely signed environmental agreements globally.

Due to the Vienna Convention and the subsequent Montreal Protocol, consumption of ozone-depleting substances has fallen 99.7% since 1986 levels.

While the ozone layer is not fully recovered, it’s on its way.

There are parallels between the ozone layer and humanity’s current environmental issue, climate change. Fixing the ozone layer can help guide how to approach the international coordination required to tackle global issues.