Tuesday, September 26, 2006

60 Years to Restore the Ozone Layer Over Antarctica

by Stephen Leahy
Read the entire article at:
TORONTO - Another giant ozone hole has opened up over the Antarctic, while evidence mounts that 20 years of international efforts have finally helped the atmosphere to start to heal itself.

The "hole" over the South Pole -- actually an annual thinning of the ozone layer, which protects Earth from the sun's ultraviolet radiation -- measured about 24 million square kilometres, nearly the size of North America, according to the Sep. 8 estimate by the renowned British Antarctic Survey, a scientific organisation that has been studying the region for the past six decades.

"We know from the study we've just published that the Montreal Protocol (1987) -- the first major global agreement related to atmospheric change -- is working," Derek Cunnold, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the institute, announced in a Sep. 9 statement.

The Montreal Protocol, signed by 184 nations, was designed to return the ozone layer to normal by phasing out use of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and nearly 100 other chemicals that break down the three-oxygen ozone molecules in the Earth's atmosphere.

"The delayed recovery is a warning that we cannot take the ozone layer for granted and must maintain and accelerate our efforts to phase out harmful chemicals," said Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, in a statement issued in Geneva and Nairobi.

China has promised to investigate after EIA provided videotape evidence this year of Chinese chemical company officials explaining how they mislabel and misdeclare products for import into countries where they are banned, von Bismark said.

The production levels of this chemical has skyrocketed worldwide, and particularly in China, said von Bismark.

"As it stands, the global warming impact of world HCFCs and HFCs emissions will rival the total greenhouse gas emissions of the entire European Union within ten years," predicted the expert.

(*Stephen Leahy is a Tierramérica contributor. Originally published Sep. 16 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)



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