The alarming thinning of the ozone layer was discovered at the poles in the 70s and 80s. The rapid disappearance of this natural shield against solar ultraviolet rays is likely to have a strong impact on life on Earth, causing cancer, weakening the immune system and damaging the DNA of living beings. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are widely used in aerosols, refrigerators and air conditioning systems, but they are quickly found to be the culprit. The sanction was not long in coming, with the adoption in 1987 of the Montreal Protocol, defining their gradual elimination. Universally ratified, it is now considered a global success in environmental protection.
Following their ban, CFC emissions have gradually declined from more than 1.4 million tonnes released in 1988 to less than 0.4 million tonnes in 2023. As a result, this gaping "hole" in the atmosphere, measured over Antarctica, has been shrinking since its peak in 2006 when it reached an average of 27 million km2... But for the past four years, observations have shown that it is increasing again.
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