I just posted a report on the latest meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol, in Bali Indonesia. Let me add a personal reflection, as this is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend back home in America. Bali is a beautiful place, but on the whole I’d rather be sharing turkey leftovers with my family right now. Wherever you are, it is worth taking a moment to give thanks for the world’s most successful environmental treaty.
We too often take the rescue of the ozone layer for granted. A whole generation has grown up not hearing about the threat to the earth’s ozone layer, except maybe once a year when the recurrence of the ozone hole gets a brief mention on the news.
In fact, a global disaster was averted by global collective action. If countries hadn’t agreed, starting in 1987, to phase out nearly 100 CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals, the thin layer of stratospheric ozone that protects us from dangerous ultraviolet radiation would have been badly depleted, and rates of skin cancer, cataracts, and other illnesses would be soaring off the charts around the world. And because many of those ozone-depleting chemicals are also powerful heat-trapping gases, the dangerous weather extremes of climate change would be coming on even faster and harder.
So let us give thanks for the Montreal Protocol as proof positive that the earth’s nearly 200 countries can effectively cooperate, when they want to. Let’s remember that as those same countries assemble next week in Durban for the next round of climate treaty talks.
Delegates playing a cover version of “You Raise Me Up,” made famous by Josh Grogan, on their traditional instrument, the angklung, during the opening ceremony. See if you can find me. (Where’s Waldo hint: look in the upper left.) Picture courtesy of IISD Reporting Services, http://www.iisd.ca/ozone/mop23/