In the 1970s and ‘80s, the world had an environmental crisis. Scientists discovered that an area of the ozone layer was thinning, threatening to transform into a hole.
The ozone layer is a layer of the atmosphere that protects the earth from harmful UV rays, lessening the harshness of the sun. Rumors of blind sheep and a rapid increase of skin cancer caused by the “ozone hole” caused mass panic. People wanted something done about the ozone hole immediately.
It was discovered that what was causing the ozone layer hole was chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were found in aerosol products like hairspray and shaving cream cans. 24 nations signed the Montreal Protocol limiting the use of CFCs in 1987, and by 1996, CFCs were almost entirely phased out.
The ozone hole, as of 2019, is the smallest it has ever been since it was discovered. Something that 40 years ago sent the masses into fear of cancer and blindness is now not even a threat. It is no longer a threat because nations took action.
An environmental issue that is currently a threat to the world is climate change. Climate change is the warming of the earth; it is also known as global warming. This occurs when carbon dioxide levels rise. Similar to the CFC levels affecting the earth, CO2 also affects the earth. Instead of the UV rays from the sun hitting the earth too hard and causing issues, the extra CO2 in our atmosphere has caused the heat from the sun to become trapped on earth, creating global warming.
When the ozone issue is paralleled with the current climate change issue, there are two major differences. The possible repercussions are not seen, and they are not currently felt. Mass amounts of people are not getting cancer. We cannot see a visual hole in the sky in a thermal photo. The coasts are not underwater.
The issue with climate change action and the reason nothing is being done is that the effects are not going to be seriously affecting people for a while. For large amounts of people from all generations to seriously panic and pressure the government to take action, they would have to have some anecdotes of climate change’s effect or physically “see” climate change.
Like the ozone issue, the climate change issue is a crisis. The ozone layer hole, if nothing was done for it, would have had drastically dangerous repercussions for our planet. The same can be said for climate change.
While there are more factors contributing to climate change than hairspray cans, we can still make changes to laws to stop climate change from happening. If action on the ozone layer wasn’t taken back, then it would still be an issue today. But it isn’t, because of the action taken.
The ozone layer proved that the world can come together to solve issues of world-wide proportions. It is not impossible, and if we wait until we see the physical signs, it will be too late to stop it.
Mikayla Rochelle is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.