Get behind the science

One of the most surprising aspects of the media landscape at the moment is the vilification of climate science and climate scientists. Conspiracy theories abound, and some of these are pushed and supported by the governments of certain large countries. This attack on science, and climate science, in particular, has come about at least in part by populist media channels which are waging a kind of war on the “expert” and on the institutions that have normally offered expert opinions on matters of public and environmental health.

Whilst it is obvious that climate change has happened throughout the geological history of our planet, it is also obvious that human activities are transforming the composition of the earth’s lower atmosphere. It is also obvious, as with CFS (Chlorofluorocarbons), that when humans decide to make a difference, we can. The “hole” in the ozone layer has been decreasing since CFCs were legislated against by the global community.

The global recognition of the destructive potential of CFCs led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a treaty phasing out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals. Scientists estimate that about 80 percent of the chlorine (and bromine, which has a similar ozone-depleting effect) in the stratosphere over Antarctica today comes from human, not natural, sources.

Models suggest that the concentration of chlorine and other ozone-depleting substances in the stratosphere will not return to pre-1980 levels until the middle decades of the 21st century. Scientists have already seen the first definitive proof of ozone recovery, observing a 20 percent decrease in ozone depletion during the winter months from 2005 to 2016. In 2017, the ozone hole was the smallest since 1988. Models predict that the Antarctic ozone layer will mostly recover by 2040.

Although it will take time, it is clear that concerted efforts by human societies can make a difference. And this is one of many reasons why we all need to #getbehindthescience.

Photos from the NASA Earth Observatory

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