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This Year's Ozone Hole Is the Smallest It's Been Since 1988
While the ozone hole is still enormous—measuring about 19.6 million square kilometers (7.6 million square miles, or 2.5 times the size of the U.S.) at its annual peak extent this Sept. 11—that's much smaller compared to the average area of ozone hole maximums since 1991 of roughly 26 million square kilometers (10 million square miles).
"In the past, we've always seen ozone at some stratospheric altitudes go to zero by the end of September," said Bryan Johnson, NOAA atmospheric chemist. "This year our balloon measurements showed the ozone loss rate stalled by the middle of September and ozone levels never reached zero."
The ozone shield in Earth's stratosphere helps absorb the sun's dangerous ultraviolet radiation, which causes problems such as skin cancer.
Since the alarming discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in the 1980s, international efforts such as the landmark 1987 Montreal Protocol have phased out the industrial production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons used in air-conditioning, refrigeration and aerosol-spray propellants.
The Antarctic ozone hole at its widest extent for the year, as measured on September 11, 2017. Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite.
"It's really small this year. That's a good thing," said Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
And while this year's tinier ozone hole is certainly good news, don't pat yourself on the back just yet for ditching the hairspray can.
First, NASA explained that an unstable and warmer-than-usual Antarctic vortex helped minimize the formation of polar stratospheric clouds, which are important precursors to the chlorine- and bromine reactions that destroy the ozone.
Secondly, NASA said "the smaller ozone hole extent in 2017 is due to natural variability and not necessarily a signal of rapid healing."
Scientists hypothesize that the ozone hole won't shrink back to its 1980 size until the year 2070—that's more than 50 years from now.
The ozone hole is still massive because harmful chemicals in the environment continue to pose a risk. However, with continued efforts to reduce chlorofluorocarbons, the hole will gradually become less severe.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."