Tag Archives: Ozone Hole

September 16th World Ozone Day

Today is the World Ozone day, on 19th December 1994 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date, in 1987, on which the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed. This commemoration around the world offers an opportunity to focus attention and action at the global, regional and national levels on the protection of the ozone layer. All Member States are invited to devote this special day to promotion, at the national level, of concrete activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendment.

If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s you might have heard about the hole in the Ozone layer. Which incidentally is not actually a hole, but an area in the ozone layer where ozone has been severely depleted; thereby allowing sun rays to pass through without much absorption or reflection. Each year for the past few decades during the Southern Hemisphere spring, chemical reactions involving chlorine and bromine cause ozone in the southern polar region to be destroyed rapidly and severely. The world reacted to this pretty much united by removing chloro-flouro carbons or CFC’s from spray cans, refrigerants etc. And the hole in the Ozone layer has been shrinking since 2006. By the end of 2009, the Montreal Protocol had resulted in the elimination of over 98 per cent of historical levels of ozone-depleting substances.

You can keep track of it on the NASA Website here.

Ozone Hole on the 12th of September 2010

Picture Courtesy NASA

The 2009 UN Climate Change Conference was held in Copenhagen on 16th September 2009 with the slogan “power Green Growth, Protect the Planet”. Countries agreed to work towards a common, long-term goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2° Celsius.

Climate Change and Actions to slow the Human impact

Climate change and global warming are divisive issues for many people still who remain skeptics in spite of what is happening around them. In some cases the belief is religious while in others it makes it easier to explain away our own reckless behaviors by putting it all on nature. Either way the reality is that there are visible changes happening all over the world from receding glaciers to mistimed monsoons, droughts etc… to stronger hurricane seasons.

Climate change is recognized as a major environmental problem facing our planet. Evidence is building that impacts are being felt in the form of melting icecaps in the polar areas and increased variability of temperature, rainfall and storms in virtually all regions.

Developed countries committed to establish and implement targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and a number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, agreed to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions and to communicate their efforts every two years.

Countries also agreed on the importance of acting to Reduce emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), and to provide support for the most vulnerable to cope with climate change.

To support these priorities, countries pledged up to $30 billion a year for developing countries between 2010 and 2012, to be disbursed through a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.

Countries also backed the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020.

Environmental facts from the UNEP

  • Forests cover 30 percent of the planet’s total land area. The total forested area in 2005 was just under 4 billion hectares, at least one third less than before the dawn of agriculture, some 10,000 years ago.
  • The ten most forest-rich countries, which account for two-thirds of the total forested area, are the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Peru and India.
  • Six million hectares of primary forest are lost every year due to deforestation and modification through selective logging and other human interventions. More than one-third of all forests are primary forests, defined as forests where there are no clearly visible indications of human activity and where ecological processes are not significantly disturbed.
  • Primary forests shelter diverse animal and plant species, and culturally diverse indigenous people, with deep connections to their habitat.
  • Only 20 per cent of the world’s forests remain in large intact areas. These forests consist of tropical rain forests, mangrove, coastal and swamp forests. Monsoon and deciduous forests flourish in the drier and more mountainous regions.
  • Trees quite literally form the foundations of many natural systems. They help to conserve soil and water, control avalanches, prevent desertification, protect coastal areas and stabilize sand dunes.
  • Forests are the most important repositories of terrestrial biological biodiversity, housing up to 90 per cent of known terrestrial species.
  • Forest animals have a vital role in forest ecology such as pollination, seed dispersal and germination.
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide and are vital carbon sinks.
  • It is estimated that the world’s forests store 283 Gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass alone, and that carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter and soil together is roughly 50 per cent more than the carbon in the atmosphere.
  • Carbon in forest biomass decreased in Africa, Asia and South America in the period 1990–2005. For the world as a whole, carbon stocks in forest biomass decreased annually by 1.1 Gigatonne of carbon (equivalent to 4 billion 25kg sacks of charcoal).
  • The loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector.
  • World population currently stands at 6.5 billion people. It is projected to grow to 9 billion by 2042.  The expansion of agricultural and industrial needs, population growth, poverty, landlessness and consumer demand are the major driving forces behind deforestation.
  • Most deforestation is due to conversion of forests to agricultural land. Global removals of wood for timber and fuel amounted to 3.1 billion cubic metres in 2005.
  • Worldwide, deforestation continues at an alarming rate, about 13 million hectares per year, an area the size of Greece or Nicaragua.
  • Africa and South America have the largest net loss of forests. In Africa it is estimated that nearly half of the forest loss was due to removal of wood fuel.
  • Forests in Europe are expanding. Asia, which had a net loss in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forests in the past five years, primarily due to large-scale forestation in China.
  • Eighty per cent of the world’s forests are publicly owned, but private ownership is on the rise, especially in North and Central America and in Oceania.
  • About 11 per cent of the world’s forests are designated for the conservation of biological diversity. These areas are mainly, but not exclusively, in protected areas.
  • Around 10 million people are employed in conventional forest management and conservation. Formal employment in forestry declined by about 10 per cent from 1990 to 2000.

The theme for the celebration is “Ozone layer protection: governance and compliance at their best”.  Governments world over are encouraged to create programs or events to raise public awareness of the importance of protecting the ozone layer for present and future generations. These can include workshops, press conferences, competitions in schools, and university lectures by experts. The list of programs as conducted by different countries will be listed on the UNEP website.

Check out how countries world over are celebrating the World Ozone Day HERE

Sources for details – UNEP website

This is the symbolic representation of a ton of CO2 from the Copenhagen summit of 2009.

Check out Seal the Deal – website of the 2009 December UN Climate change meeting in Copenhagen

The Hole In The Ozone Layer What Happened To It?

What happened to the Ozone Hole?

Picture source The National Geographic

Remember the Hole in the Ozone layer? It’s size, location, remedy etc was a topic of heated discussion for quite some time in the late 80’s and through the 90’s which now sounds like eons back (remember the big hair, Dirty Dancing??!).  Discussions about what we could do to reduce CFC’s – Chlorofluorocarbons which were causing it used to be quite common. Growing up during those years it was my first encounter with what we were doing to the environment and in some ways my first step into the realm of environmentalism.

We were told keeping the Refrigerator door closed (Freon was the agent of cooling in many of the old refrigerators), using less or no aerosols etc.. would help, and almost all the aerosols sold during those times did contain CFC’s. The industrialized nations were using CFC laden aerosols for over 50 years by then! Simplified what was happening was the CFC’s remained in the atmosphere rose up to the Ozone layer and the Chlorine in the CFC’s comibined with Oxygen there by depleting Ozone. By 1996 almost all the industrialized nations totally banned CFC’s. Even then it was estimated by scientists that it would take more than 50 years to get the Chlorine in the atmosphere to normal levels.

Today morning I read this article in The National Geographic which talks about “what is happening to the Ozone Layer?”  It says that in the last 3 decades the world has taken a united stand that has made the Ozone hole manageable, it is still there, but has stopped growing and is under control. Will a united action plan by the world be able to curb climate change too? Something to think about…

Read more about it here