Editorial: The healing of the ozone layer gives hope, but addressing climate change will be harder – Los Angeles Times

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Climate Change

Now for some good news about our planet: The ozone layer is healing.A recent United Nations-backed assessment found continued progress in the global effort to repair the shield-like layer high up in the stratosphere that protects Earth and its inhabitants from harmful ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer and hurts plants and animals. The ozone layer is now on track to be restored to 1980s levels over much of the world by 2040, over the Arctic by 2045 and the Antarctic by 2066. The gradual recovery of the ozone layer has been held up as proof that humanity can succeed with sustained, collective action against a shared threat to our environment. So should it also give us hope for the climate crisis? Not if we ignore its example and continue with the same plodding rate of action.AdvertisementThe progress scientists have measured is a direct result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a treaty approved by every country in the world outlawing chemicals that eat away at the ozone layer, including chlorofluorocarbons that were once used in canned aerosol sprays and refrigerants. Nearly 99% of those banned ozone-depleting chemicals have now been phased out, according to the report.If international cooperation is working successfully to reverse the thinning of the ozone layer, it stands to reason that multilateral efforts could also prove successful in the fight against climate change and fossil fuels. Or as World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement announcing the report, “ozone action sets a precedent for climate action.”The news is encouraging, but the comparison works only up to a point. Curbing global warming is a far more difficult and an all-encompassing task, requiring us to replace the burning of fossil fuels that are at the center of the global economy with clean renewable energy, while reversing the destruction of forests and other ecosystems that store carbon. Fossil fuels are also far more ubiquitous in our society than the chemicals that caused ozone deple …

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