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The United Nations International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated each year around the world on September 16, a date that marks the 1987 signing of the Montreal Protocol. The international treaty was enacted to protect the ozone layer by eliminating the use of ozone depleting substances. As a result of this global effort, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050. The phasing out of HFC’s and CFC’s has also contributed significantly to combating climate change by reducing the atmospheric concentration of these known contributors to global warming.
“Keep Cool and Carry on” is the theme of this year’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. It celebrates the progress in protecting the ozone layer as well the steps being taken to phase out ozone depleting chemicals which are also potent greenhouse gases.
To mark this special occasion primary and secondary school educators throughout the world are encouraged to organize classroom activities that focus on topics related to the ozone layer and climate change.
Why Care About The Ozone Layer?
• The ozone layer acts as an atmospheric shield. All life on earth depends on its protection from the lethal levels of ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun.
• Cause and effect has been established between a thinning of the ozone layer and increased incidence of skin cancer.
• Declines in crop yields of up to 50% in some countries have been linked to increased amounts of incoming UV radiation. A thinner ozone layer is also a factor in the declining concentrations of phytoplankton that support aquatic food webs.
• Products emitting ozone depleting substances are still produced and consumed throughout the world.
• Many ozone depleting substances remain active in the atmosphere for 50 to 100 years.
• Most ozone depleting substances are also greenhouse gases.
• Protection efforts to date are making a difference. According to the US EPA, the ozone layer has not grown thinner since 1998 and the total abundance of ODS in the atmosphere continues to decrease.
Resources 4 Rethinking supports student and teacher participation in Ozone Day Activities. Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent classroom resources.
For more information and activities be sure to check out the International Day for the preservation of the Ozone Layer website.