What? Did you forget about that? Most people have, including me until recently. Yet it was only three decades ago that we realized we were in trouble. It was serious enough that it threatened to make the planet extremely hostile to life as we know it but no one really talks about it anymore.
The ozone layer keeps out the bulk of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This is the stuff that causes sunburns and skin cancer. No ozone meant that every walk in the park was a deadly assault on your skin. The worst part was that we knew precisely what was happening and why. A man made chemical known as chlorofluorocarbon or CFC, when released into the atmosphere, interacted with the ozone and broke it down; rendering it unable to block UV rays. It was used all over the world in refrigerators and air conditioners and all sorts of mundane appliances. We were committing suicide as a species and that suicide took the form of a rapidly growing hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica.
But today, no one really thinks about it. I’ll bet my wisdom teeth that not one in a hundred high school kids know about that hole (which is still there by the way). Why? Because we fixed the problem. Seriously! We did! We, as a species, got our asses in gear. The United Nations (yeah, those guys) passed the Montreal Protocol in 1987 (when Ronald Reagan was president) and that was pretty much it for CFCs. As of two years ago, scientists have reported that the ozone layer is replenishing itself.
Can you imagine if we had discovered the problem now? We would be beyond screwed. The GOP would immediately go into full denial mode. They would insist that liberals were lying about ozone depletion and even if it was real, it couldn’t possibly be caused by humans. They would attack the scientific community as shady commies trying to cripple the “job creators” and god forbid the UN got involved! It’s all a plot to steal our national sovereignty! We would be unable to go out in sunlight within 50 years and the right would insist that it was a totally natural thing. Or that God was punishing the gays.
So the next time Senator Inhofe or some Fox News tool definitively states that humans couldn’t possibly have an impact on something as large as the climate, someone should should ask about the ozone layer. Maybe they’ll explain how that was all a hoax too.