This is a first. Some good news on the environmental front. A UN panel of scientists are pointing to a recovering ozone layer that had created a massive hole over Antarctica.

The news is important, and gives hope that our problems can be solved. There are a couple high points, and a potential low from the report released on Wednesday.

Ozone hole growth has been arrested. Granted, the hole hasn’t closed, but there are indications of ozone growth since 2006. That was the last year that scientists recorded the ozone hole over Antarctica had grown.

This hole appears over the icy continent every year, and had expanded to 30 million square kilometers in 2006. Since then the hole has stabilized and begun to shrink. It is the first report to show growth in total ozone.

Governments can work together. Stopping the ozone depletion shows that governments can work together in environmental causes. It actually gives hope for environmentalists over climate change.

Scientists first realized in the 1970s that a chemical used in refrigerants and aerosol cans were wreaking havoc on the ozone. A campaign to stop chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, was started to help save the ozone. Coupled with the 1987 Montreal Protocol, we can declare a small victory today.

Yes, it took decades to work, but it shows we, as a people, can effect change.

ozone layer

Unintended consequences. Like everything, Murphy’s Law had to rear its head over this. While it is great that CFCs have been greatly reduced, our replacement chemicals may be generating more greenhouse gas emissions. Yes, our victory over the ozone depletion may in fact speed up global warming.

Emissions from the replacement chemicals are growing at 7 percent per year, and are expected to significantly affect climate change.

Yeah, I know. We get a victory, only to see that we are possibly speeding up climate change. Not exactly a complete feel good story, but let’s take a win.

Reversing the tide of ozone depletion does have a health impact. A UN report said that without the pact, an extra two million skin cancer cases would have developed by 2030.

A win is a win for environmentalists. Plus, it shows current administrations around the world that governments can make an impact if they choose to do so.

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