The hole in the ozone layer is smaller than ever, NASA says

In some double-edged news for the planet, NASA has recently announced that the hole in the ozone layer has shrunk to its smallest size since it was detected in the mid-1980s. But there's a bit of a catch as to why it shrank in the first place, and yes it has to do with climate change.


Back in the days of glam rock and unlimited hairspray most people were totally oblivious to the damage they were doing to the atmosphere. Then in 1985 a group of buzz killers (a.k.a. scientists) released findings that showed the ozone levels in the atmosphere over the poles were depleting at an alarming rate.

And suddenly certain real estate moguls had to find another way to make the remnants of their hair bend in an unnatural direction, and proving that anyone can be a victim of their own ignorance.

The ozone layer is a part of the Earth's atmosphere made up of molecules called, wait for it, ozones! Which are basically triple strength oxygen - where the oxygen molecules we breath are made up of two oxygen atoms, the ozone layer molecules have three oxygen atoms.

And throughout Earth's history these brave tiny soldiers stood guard against the sun's radiation, specifically UV rays which are known to cause skin cancer. But when we found that they were being killed off, well, you can see how that could raise some obvious concerns. Please enjoy this nifty video from The National Geographic to learn more!

In the decades since the substances that caused the depletion were banned or prohibited (see: the Montreal Protocol) the ozone layer has shown signs of rebounding.

Recently NASA released a report that said the ozone hole was the smallest it has been since it was discovered, stretching to 3.9 million square miles. That may sound like a lot but it's actually half the usual size around this time of year which is around 8 million square miles.

This is all pretty good long-run news for the planet, but, and yes this the big "but," there's a caveat. "It's great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere," said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "But it's important to recognize that what we're seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures. It's not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery."


It's true, and shrinking of the ozone has actually happened in the past though not quite to this degree, but it was always due to strange weather patterns. And scientist are still investigating, however the main culprit for this seems to be rising global temperatures.

"It's a rare event that we're still trying to understand. If the warming hadn't happened, we'd likely be looking at a much more typical ozone hole." Said Susan Strahan, a researcher with the Universities Space Research Association.

Despite this however, scientists are optimistic that by 2070, at current rates the ozone layer can return to normal.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.