Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Sustainable Scale
- How is Atmospheric Ozone Depletion a Scale Problem?
The production of several ozone depleting compounds in the 1930’s and their subsequent commercialization resulted in high levels of these compounds in the upper atmosphere by 1980. Sustainable scale was exceeded when the destruction of atmospheric ozone molecules was more rapid than their creation, resulting in a thinning of the atmospheric ozone layer, especially at the poles (see Ozone as a Scale Problem).
- Will the Proposed Solution (the Montreal Protocol) Achieve a Sustainable Scale?
Achieving sustainable scale is not guaranteed. The Montreal Protocol is one of the international community’s most successful environmental treaties, prohibiting the production and sale of various ozone depleting compounds within a set timeframe. However, there are problems of enforcement, the timetable may allow continued unacceptable damage, and some states are resisting the agreed prohibition against some substances (see Proposed Ozone Solution).
- What Additional Scale Relevant Solutions Are Required?
A variety of measures could increase the likelihood of the atmospheric ozone layer being restored to its previous levels. These include: accelerating the schedule for the total elimination of ozone depleting compounds; bringing all states into compliance with the Protocol; strengthening the enforcement mechanisms involved; and ensuring that all relevant compounds are covered by the treaty (see Additional Ozone Solutions).
- What Scale Relevant Lessons Should We Take from the Atmospheric Ozone Story?
The destruction of the atmospheric ozone layer reveals how an apparently helpful technology rapidly threatened a basic global life-support system. Interactions between atmospheric ozone depletion and climate change demonstrate both the complexities and dangers of exceeding sustainable scale for any global life-support system and the importance of preventing scale problems from occurring (see Ozone Lessons).