Good news from UN: Ozone layer is heal­ing

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Doyle Rice

Fi­nally some good news from the en­vi­ron­ment.

The ozone layer – which pro­tects us from the sun’s harm­ful ra­di­a­tion – is slowly heal­ing, the United Na­tions an­nounced Mon­day.

“It’s re­ally good news,” said NASA’s Paul New­man, co-au­thor of the re­port.

Over the north­ern half of the world, the layer should be com­pletely re­paired by the 2030s, the re­port said. The good news is due to decades of global co­op­er­a­tion to phase out ozone-de­plet­ing chem­i­cals.

“If ozone-de­plet­ing sub­stances had con­tin­ued to in­crease, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that,” New­man said.

The ozone hole over Antarc­tica also is re­cov­er­ing, al­though it will con­tinue to oc­cur each year un­til the 2060s.

The ozone layer is lo­cated up in the strato­sphere some 7 to 25 miles above Earth’s sur­face, ac­cord­ing to NASA. It acts like sun­screen, shield­ing the planet from ul­tra­vi­o­let ra­di­a­tion that can cause skin can­cer, sup­press im­mune sys­tems and dam­age plants.

The nat­u­ral ozone high up in the at­mos­phere is the “good” ozone in con­trast to “bad” ozone near the sur­face, which is man-made pol­lu­tion.

Sci­en­tists say the way the ozone prob­lem was tack­led pro­vides a tem­plate for how we can coun­ter­act hu­man-caused global warm­ing.

“Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions re­main by far the most im­por­tant green­house gases,” said World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Pet­teri Taalas. “But we can also help tackle cli­mate change by re­duc­ing our com­mit­ment to other gases. Ev­ery bit of warm­ing mat­ters,” he said.

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