climate change ozone layer montreal protocol treaty

Humans Did It Once, Can They Do It Again?
agreement crisis

Ozone Success Gives Hope for Climate

For more than a decade, the chemical companies that made CFCs reacted much like today's coal and oil companies: They denied the science, attacked the messengers, and predicted economic ruin. But the green movement won at last. This 2012 article is from USA Today, Spt 28.

by David Doniger

Climate change is not our first planetary pollution crisis. Almost 40 years ago, scientists discovered that chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons were destroying the fragile ozone layer that protects us from the sun's dangerous UVB radiation.

That would have condemned millions of people around the world to die from skin cancer, go blind with cataracts or suffer from immune diseases.

But the world came together and averted a catastrophe. The crowning moment came 25 years ago this month when the United States joined other nations to sign the world's most successful environmental treaty, called the Montreal Protocol.

That's the treaty that put an end to the production of CFCs, rescued the ozone layer, saved millions of lives, and avoided a global catastrophe.

As we struggle for agreement on steps to curb the carbon pollution that's driving climate change, it's worth remembering, and learning from, our success in solving the ozone crisis.

To read more

JJS: Sure, people have an easier time protecting their health and lives. Still, the underlying assumption of environmental standards is that people have a right to Earth in a healthy state and that the environment at least (if not yet all land) is part of the commons, something we have an equal right to, something no one of us can hog to themselves. Therefore, one strategy for winning a better world is to broaden people’s understanding that they not only have a right to Earth in a healthy state but also a right to a fair share of Earth’s worth, a la Alaska’s oil dividend but writ large.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

How to Break Up With Big Oil

Don't Just Say No, Say Justice Now

State Of The Air 2012 -- ALA Report

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