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.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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