Protecting the Ozone Layer - The United Nations History
Stephen O Andersen and K Madhava Sarma
Published in association with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Hardback 588 pages ISBN 9781853839054
Softcover 588 pages ISBN 9781844071722
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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