Protecting the Ozone Layer - The United Nations History

Stephen O Andersen and K Madhava Sarma 
Earthscan  November 2004  

Hardback  588 pages  ISBN 9781853839054      £105.00

Softcover  588 pages  ISBN 9781844071722      £60.00
Published in association with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

This book tells the story of the ozone layer and how the Montreal Protocol averted a grave threat to the whole of humanity through the destruction of this layer.

In 1974, scientists Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland warned that chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants, solvents, aerosol product propellants and foam blowing agents would destroy the stratospheric ozone layer that protects the Earth against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. A few countries immediately banned cosmetic aerosol products, but the CFC industry successfully protected most of its markets through fierce political action. Fortunately, in 1977, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also heeded the scientific warning and began to organize for action to protect the ozone layer.

Then, in 1984 and 1985, Japanese and British scientists discovered that the ozone layer above the Antarctic was dangerously depleted. Urgent action was needed to avert skin cancer, cataracts, suppression of the human immune system and destruction of crops and natural ecosystems. UNEP coordinated the unprecedented response, involving scientists, engineers, industry, environmental pressure groups and the public, as well as international agencies, governments and diplomats. The resulting 1987 Montreal Protocol has been progressively strengthened five times to provide for the rapid phase-out of the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances.

The authors Andersen and Sarma were closely involved in this process. Their clear and authoritative account covers all aspects of this remarkable story: the evolving science, the intricate diplomacy, the ultimate business leadership, technical options, the roles of the media and the environmental campaigners, and how the myriad of different interests were brought together so effectively. The account shows how the world community might tackle other environmental problems successfully.

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