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 user 2005-09-20 at 9:51:00 am Views: 73
  • #12858

    U.N.: Antarctic ozone hole nears record size

    ‘So-called ozone recovery has yet to be confirmed’

    GENEVA, Switzerland –
    The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has grown to near record
    size this year, suggesting 20 years of pollution controls have so far
    had little effect, the United Nations said on Friday.

    In a bulletin on the seasonal depletion of ozone gas, which filters
    harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts,
    the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the hole would
    peak within a couple of weeks.

    “It will probably not break any records, but it shows that ozone
    depletion is going on and that the so-called ozone recovery has yet to
    be confirmed,” Geir Braathen, WMO’s top ozone expert, told a news

    U.S. scientists reported last month that the ozone layer has stopped
    shrinking but it will take decades to start recovering. (Full story)

    The hole above the South Pole and Antarctica, which spans about 27
    million sq km, was expected to grow another million sq km in a week,
    bringing it close to the record years of 2000 and 2003, the WMO said.

    It had passed over Ushuaia, in the Patagonia region of southern
    Argentina, “leading to noticeable increases in UV (ultraviolet)”
    radiation, according to the bulletin, issued on the International Day
    for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

    Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) containing chlorine and bromine, have been
    blamed for thinning the layer because they attack the ozone molecules,
    causing them to break apart.

    Many CFCs, once commonly used in refrigeration, air conditioning and
    industrial cleaning, were banned by the Vienna Convention, signed
    exactly 20 years ago, and its Montreal Protocol clinched in 1987.

    Most scientists say the hole spanned a record 29 million sq km (11
    million sq miles) in September 2003, exposing the southern tip of South

    “You could say that the ozone situation is stabilizing at a low level.
    We are approaching the maximum of ozone depletion, it is kind of
    leveling off, but it is still too early to say that the situation is
    improving,” Braathen said.

    In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the 189
    states to have ratified the Montreal Protocol had eliminated more than
    1.5 million tons of annual production of chemicals that destroy the
    ozone layer.

    But developing countries were “only at the half-way point in many of
    their obligations” under the pact, while in wealthy countries a number
    of chemicals still needed to be phased out.

    “It is essential that we remain alert to this hazard to avoid an
    increase in skin cancers, cataracts and other health threats,” Annan