When growing up most of us heard about and feared the “hole in the ozone layer”. We were told that the ozone was a layer of protection from the harsh rays of the sun and that a hole forming in this layer was due to our lack of care for the environment. It appeared that nature was hitting back and with every bit of the ozone eroding we became more in danger. It was a scary thought and as I child I didn’t understand the science behind it or how concerned I should be. I was a strange kid and would literally have nightmares about the ozone layer and nuclear power explosions. However in the end my childhood was pretty great as none of these dramatic events came back to get me in reality. Yet the ozone layer really does matter and while there is some good news at present we must show caution.
There is a layer of ozone all around the planet and this layer really does absorb a lot of the radiation that comes from the sun. If we go out on a hot day we still burn but without the ozone layer, it would be a lot worse. This is why the holes in the ozone layer caused people to worry. Although they were over the Arctic and Antarctic they still have a massive impact on people. One reason for this is that there are huge amounts of ice at these poles and if the sun can get through easier we may face faster melting of ice caps, rising sea levels, and a more inhospitable planet. A second reason is that these holes in the ozone layer result in ozone depleted air moving to nearby countries.
The Arctic ozone hole has now largely closed off. This is reason to celebrate as the threat it posed is now diminished, however, it was always much smaller than the hole over the Antarctic which is much larger. The countries close to the Antarctic are at risk because of this diminished ozone layer. They are Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile. Australia for example has a very high rate of cancer risk because of its position to the sun but also its weakened ozone state.
Statistics show that the Antarctic ozone hole size fluctuates dramatically but that it has been at a relatively steady, high rate, since 2003. This hole has been emerging since 1979 and has shown little to no improvement over time (despite seasonal changes). This means that people in nearby countries are more at risk of cancer and that the Antarctic ice is more at risk of melting.
The Arctic ozone hole closing is great news but it should not be taken as the time to pat ourselves on the back for looking after the environment, it was likely closed by other factors. Instead, we need to take the fact that it did close as evidence that these large environmental issues can be undone. The Antarctic ozone hole does not have to be there and it can be closed. If we start to take climate change more seriously and alter our behavior we can make this planet a fantastic place to live for many more generations.
The ozone holes are just one of the many factors we need to pay attention to in the race to save the environment. This is a race that we are losing at present and if we don’t put in the hard work now then there the results will be determined for future generations. We need to give future generations a fighting chance by changing how we live, now.