Heard about the new hole in the ozone layer that scientists recently detected in the arctic? Over 20 years ago, all UN countries came to an agreement to halt the production of dangerous emissions (like CFC’s) that threatened the ozone layer. Still, there is enough up there to spontaneously open a huge hole like this one any time there’s a really cold winter in the upper atmosphere. In a world where some leading politicians are still denying climate change, this is a big, red flag reminding us that our actions have repercussions that can’t be fixed immediately, nor even for decades.
It’s not just a harmless warning beacon, either. Even this situation, which we’ve already done our best to resolve could have consequences for us. Listening to the BBC program, “Science in Action,” this afternoon, I heard Dr. Markus Rex say, ”It’s a big vortex in the polar stratosphere, that drifts around a lot and it can make excursions as far south as northern Italy or central Asia or to the US on the other side of the Arctic. ” OH HAI, Oregon!
Not only is the US the biggest culprit in climate change, we refused flat out to sign the Kyoto protocol, the UN’s attempt to answer climate change as it did the ozone problem. But, by the time we do come around and do something, it’ll most likely be too late, because these things happen on a grand scale, and it’ll take years to fix the damage.
By the way, the reason that hole opened up this year and not a while ago? CFC’s destroy ozone at cold temperatures. It’s usually warmer than that in the arctic stratosphere, or it was, until climate change affected the temperature there, so this is a combined result of carbon dioxide and CFC emissions. Enjoy!