Today, 16 September, is a critically important day for this little planet of ours – it’s World Ozone Day, or to be more precise, the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

The day was officially proclaimed as one of the United Nations’ International Observances in 1994, falling under the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP. The date was specifically selected to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on 16 September 1987, marking this year as the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol.

So why is the preservation of the ozone so important? I’m sure it’s a lot more complicated than my basic understanding of the subject, but in essence the ozone in the stratosphere plays a critical role in absorbing much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Furthermore ozone in the lower atmosphere also plays a role in removing pollutants from the air.

Not a pretty picture.
(© All Rights Reserved)

Now as we humans are prone to do, many of our actions are not all that considerate of the health of the earth, and can be very detrimental to the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol aimed to identify and address substances and actions that contribute to the depletion of the ozone in the atmosphere, and is one of the great examples of international cooperation towards a global good. As an outcome of the Protocol, the phasing out of the use of ozone depleting substances is helping protect the ozone layer for generations to come. The international awareness created through the Montreal Protocol has also contributed to a greater appreciation and awareness of the effects of climate change on the earth.

To help create continued awareness, UNEP’s OzonAction Programme has developed a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video, in 6 UN languages, for global broadcasting and viral distribution.  The English announcement is embedded below, while links to the Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish announcements can be found here.

 

For more information, the UN website provides some very interesting general background on ozone preservation, as well as information of some ozone depleting substances in different industry sectors.

Protecting our atmosphere (and environment) for generations to come.
(© All Rights Reserved)

In celebration of World Ozone Day, take a minute today to appreciate the ozone layer and how it contributes to the world and the environment as we know it. Not only does it protect us humans from life threatening cancer-causing UVB radiation, but it is also critical for plant health, marine ecosystems and terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemical cycles.

The theme of this year’s event is “Protecting our atmosphere for generations to come” – surely a cause well worth supporting and celebrating.

3 Comments

  1. Oooh! Ooooh! *hand up, waving wildly*
    I can actually make an intelligent contribution here!

    After making the discovery that lead added to petrol made engines run more smoothly, Thomas Midgley went on to invent CFC’s to improve refrigeration. How nice of him to contribute in such a way to the planet…. 😉
    His last invention did kill him without injuring anyone else though, so I think there is some kind of cosmic justice in that.

    1. Thanks, Metan – that’s brilliant. Didn’t know about Midgley, so I had to go google him quickly. Loved this line in his writeup on Wikipedia: “Environmental historian J.R. McNeil says that Midgley had a greater impact on the environment than any other single organism in world history.” Shame, that’s some legacy…

      Must admit the story of his death is terribly amusing.

      1. I can thank Bill Bryson for making me sound more intelligent than I really am 🙂 In ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ he describes Midgley as having ‘an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny’. 😀

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