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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Earth’s Ozone is Healing and Air Quality All Over the World is Better

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Recent evidence that surfaced online are showing perhaps two of the most globally impacting pieces of good news in recent years, and if they are any indication, perhaps there’s still hope left for mother nature.

The Ozone is Healing

A paper recently released at the scientific journal, Nature.com, shows that the ozone hole above Antarctica has healed so much, that it’s actually smaller than when it was first discovered decades ago. This development demonstrates that rare as it is, reversal of environmental damage is possible if everyone works together. 

The ozone layer is a protective barrier that absorbs most of the ultraviolet rays that reach the Earth from the sun. Without it, it is nearly impossible for anything to survive on this planet. Damage to the ozone layer was caused primarily by the widespread usage of ozone-depleting substances called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). In 1987, the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty was signed to put a stop to the usage of these substances. 

Scientists are saying that since the banning of CFCs, the Ozone Layer’s health has considerably improved, and this year, its damage has had less effect on the movements of jet streams in the southern hemisphere.

The Earth’s mid-latitude jet stream had been gradually, but continuously shifting towards the South Pole until before 2000. In addition, there was also a hurricane-causing stream that kept getting wider. Both were contributing to changes in rainfall patterns and ocean currents in the southern hemisphere, which in turn, brings severe drought to countries in this area, including Australia.

There is Significantly Less Air Pollution

Together with the ozone layer healing, with 1/3 of the world on quarantine and industrial activities shut down, reports are saying that globally, we are experiencing a great drop in carbon emission and nitrogen dioxide levels, with key cities like Paris experiencing up to 54% decrease in NO2, Milan, Rome and Madrid by 50%, and China as a whole, by 30%.

Simply put, what these numbers are saying is that the air quality in most parts of the world is improving and for non-scientists, the easiest way to tell this is by taking the time to appreciate how clearer the sky is and breathing in the air yourself.

Photos taken before and after the quarantine are also good indicators. A picture of Los Angeles taken on April 14 recently became viral for being the first one in decades to show San Gabriel Mountains standing tall behind the city’s–notorious for its smog–skyscrapers. 

Similar photos of Milan, New Delhi, Venice, Jakarta, and Manila are making rounds on the internet.

According to a study released by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, long-term exposure to air pollution could contribute to higher numbers of Covid-19 fatalities.  The study states that “an increase of only 1 gram per cubic meter in fine particulate matter in the air was associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate.”

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