International Day For The Preservation Of The Ozone Layer

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JanPratinidhi
JanPratinidhi

International Day For The Preservation Of The Ozone Layer


Articles / Environment   /   Sep 16, 2014
karuna Gupta
karuna Gupta
She is a writer. She has done post-graduation in Political Science from Delhi University. She likes writing news stories, blogs and articles. She also likes to analyze political and international events and write stories on them. She wishes to bring a change to the lives of women by attracting the attention of leaders as well as society at large through her articles. Truth is what she stands for.

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The ozone layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects the Earth from the harmful part of the rays of the sun. By thus acting as an umbrella for the entire earth, the ozone layer helps in preservation of our precious lives and hence it should have been for us as valuable as our lives. But because of our carelessness and complete disregard of nature, we precipitated a dangerous situation which could have led to our ruin had urgent steps not been taken by the whole world with a rare unity of purpose.

It was in the 1970s that the scientists first realized that we were rapidly destroying the ozone layer on the earth’s stratosphere, which protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The ozone layer gets dangerously thin every year between mid-August and November or December in Antarctica. Without the ozone layer’s protection, an increasing number of people would be exposed to UV rays and become victims of skin-cancer as they already have in Puentas Arenas, Chile, which lies under the existing ozone hole. UV rays could also harm crops and the marine food chain.

In 1987 representatives from 24 countries met in Montreal and took a collective decision to make massive efforts to stop the continuing damage to the ozone layer. So the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed and ratified to rid the world of substances that threaten the ozone layer by the committed and concerted efforts of all the countries involved.

The Montreal Protocol is widely recognized as one of the most successful environmental treaties in history. It establishes legally binding controls on the national production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and enjoys universal ratification by 197 parties.

In order to create awareness about the ozone depletion and the changes necessary to improve the situation a special day was designated for the purpose. September 16 was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This resolution 49/114 was made on December 19, 1994, in commemoration of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer signed in 1987. The day was first celebrated on September 16, 1995 and since then has been regularly celebrated each year.

The purpose was to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the Protocol and its amendments.. The phaseout or controlled uses of ozone depleting substances was and is the aim. As a result there have been reductions in the use of these harmful substances. Today the abundance of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere is declining and the ozone layer is expected to recover around the middle of this century.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On.” On this day activities are organized in schools and colleges all over the world on the issue of the ozone layer, the ill effects of its depletion and its significance for life on earth. Some teachers use educational packages from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that have been particularly designed for this purpose.Ozone friendly products are promoted. Talk shows, lectures and seminars on ozone depletion and its negative effects are held to create awareness among the common people and to drive home the point that each one must contribute in the efforts to save the ozone layer. All those who have worked hard and put in their best to save the earth by preventing ozone depletion are felicitated and honoured on this day so that the others in society too feel inspired.

All these continual, consistent and combined efforts to save the ozone layer have indeed borne fruit. The ozone layer is showing its first sign of recovery after years of dangerous depletion, a UN study says. The protective ozone layer that started depleting heavily in the 1980′s is on a recovery mode according to a new assessment by 300 scientists across the world released recently. “Assessment for Decision-Makers”– a summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014 published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) indicates that the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 levels before the middle of this century in many parts. “There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century,” said UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner in a press statement. The largest ozone hole on record was about 30 million square km in 2006. The hole now covers about 20 million square km.

The determination to save the ozone layer culminated in phasing out ozone depleting substances such as chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigerators, air conditioners and solvents as agreed in the Montreal Protocol. Though there are positive results as far as the ozone layer is concerned but now a new problem has arisen. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are now widely used (replacing CFCs) do not harm the ozone layer but many of them are potent greenhouse gases and have very high global warming potential. Their emissions are growing at a rate of about 7 % per year. If not checked they can lead to catastrophic climate change no less damaging than the destruction of the ozone layer. Replacements of the current mix of High GWPs (Global Warming potential) HFCs with alternative compounds with low GWPs would limit this problem. “They currently contribute about 0.5 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year.
These emissions are growing at a rate of about 7 percent per year.”

This might affect our country adversely in the coming years if no urgent action is taken. According to a report by the Times of India, the news for India is grim. Tropical countries were not significantly affected by the above ozone depletion problem. But, along with severe climate change impacts, India and other tropical regions may face an ozone depletion problem towards the end of the century. Gufran Beig, project director at System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of IITM, Pune and only Indian scientist in the international expert review team has flagged off certain ozone concerns for India. Climate change is inducing a change in circulation patterns in the upper layers of the atmosphere that will influence ozone concentration adversely, he has said in his submission.

“It has been the opinion of scientists that increasing greenhouse gas emissions and consequent change in the weather system will impact the ozone layer adversely. There has to be immediate measures to cut down on GHG emissions,” Beig said. He also asserted that emissions from fossil fuel, bio-fuels, industries and power sector, troposphere or ground-level ozone, a toxic gas is increasing in India and this is a major issue that needs to be resolved.

In his message to the world on the occasion of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said “Climate change is affecting communities, economies and ecosystems across the globe. It is essential that we act to mitigate the threat with the same unity of purpose as we have in facing the dangers of ozone depletion. Let us take inspiration from our efforts to preserve the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol has shown that decisive action by the international community, including the private sector, can achieve transformative results for the common good. Let us learn from this example and apply its lesson to the urgent task of addressing the climate challenge.”

Let us rise up to the challenge once again and demonstrate the human potential for innovation, creation and preservation.

Let us pledge to take the best possible care of our Mother Earth and our environment for we must never forget that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The views expressed here are those of the authors and doesn’t reflect the official policy of Janpratinidhi. The views expressed here are those of the authors and doesn’t reflect the official policy of Janpratinidhi.
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