The international treaty that phased out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals has prevented between 0.65°C and 1°C of global warming, according to research.
The study also showed that carbon stored in vegetation through photosynthesis would have dropped by 30% without the treaty, which came into force in 1989.
Researchers from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States wrote in Nature that the Montreal Protocol was essential in protecting carbon stored in plants. Studies in the polar regions have shown that high-energy ultraviolet rays (UVB) reduce plant biomass and damage DNA. Forests and soil currently absorb 30% of human carbon dioxide emissions.
“At the ends of our simulations, which we finished around 2100, the amount of carbon which is being taken up by plants is 15% the value of our control world where the Montreal Protocol is enacted,” said lead author and atmospheric scientist Paul Young of Lancaster University.
In the simulation, the UVB radiation is so intense that plants in the midlatitudes stop taking up a net increase in carbon.
Plants in the tropics fare better, but humid forests would have 60% less ozone overhead than before, a state much worse than was ever observed in the Antarctic ozone hole.
A “World Avoided”
The study used a chemistry climate model, a weather-generating tool, a land surface model, and a carbon cycling model. It links ozone loss with declines in the carbon sink in plants for the first time.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), ozone-depleting chemicals phased out by the Montreal Protocol, are potent greenhouse gases. The study estimated that CFCs would warm the planet an additional 1.7°C by 2100. Taken together, the damage from UVB radiation and the greenhouse effect of CFCs would add an additional 2.5°C warming by the century’s end. Today, the world has warmed, on average, 1.1°C at the surface, leading to more frequent droughts, heat waves, and extreme precipitation.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would reach 827 parts per million by the end of the century too, double the amount of carbon dioxide today (~412 parts per million).
The work analyzed three different scenarios: The first assumes that ozone-depleting substances stayed below 1960 levels when massive production kicked in. The second assumes that ozone-depleting chemicals peaked in the late 1980s before tapering off. The last assumes that ozone-depleting chemicals increase in the atmosphere every year by 3% through 2100.
The last scenario, called the “World Avoided,” assumes not only that the Montreal Protocol never happened but also that humans had no idea CFCs were harming ozone, even when the effects would become clear in the 2040s. The models also assume one kind of UVB damage to all vegetation, when in reality, plants react differently.
“The Montreal Protocol is regarded as one of the most successful global environmental treaties,” said University of Leeds atmospheric scientist Martyn Chipperfield, who was not involved in the research. “CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances are potent greenhouse gases, and the Montreal Protocol is known for having real benefits in addressing climate change by removing previous levels of high CFCs from the atmosphere.”
The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 2016 brought climate change to the forefront. Countries agreed to gradually phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used in applications such as air conditioning and fire extinguishing systems. HFCs originally replaced hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and CFCs because they do not harm ozone. Yet HFCs are potent greenhouse gases.
The Montreal Protocol was the “best accidental climate treaty,” said Young. “It is an example of where science discovered there was a problem, and the world acted on that problem.”
Injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere has been proposed as one geoengineering solution to slow global warming. “People are seriously talking about this because it’s one of the most plausible geoengineering mechanisms, yet that does destroy ozone,” Young said. Calculating the harm to the carbon cycle is “the obvious follow-up experiment for us.”
The research highlights the importance of the U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) this fall, which will determine the success of worldwide climate targets.
Immediate and rapid reductions in greenhouse gases are necessary to stop the most damaging consequences of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Agriculture:
The Colorado Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for a competitive grant program to assist with projects that help Colorado anticipate, prepare for, mitigate, adapt to, or respond to any event, trend, or climatological disturbance related to drought or climate. Resulting from Senate Bill 21-234, this funding is intended to support drought and climate resilience efforts for agricultural producers.
“Many farmers and ranchers have been affected by multi-year hazards: 2018 drought, 2019 freeze, 2020 drought and wildfires. Climate extremes can be very detrimental to producers and the 2021 season does not look any more forgiving,” said Conservation Services Division Director Les Owen. “These hardships have caused deep economic and ecological costs to agriculture in Colorado and this program aims to mitigate some of those losses and help prepare ag producers for changing climatic conditions.”
The purpose of the competitive grant program is to respond to Colorado’s prolonged drought conditions caused by absent monsoon seasons, record-high temperatures, and extreme evaporative demands from wind, low humidity and high temperatures. After several years of unusual weather patterns, a warm spring, dry summer, and critically hot autumn further contributed to the 2020 record-breaking wildfire season. So far in 2021, Colorado has experienced a long lasting and severe drought in most parts of the state.
CDA will award approximately $1.5 million in grants for drought-related projects. Projects that can demonstrate long-term and widespread benefits will be the most competitive. Funding can also be used to match investments in new projects.
Applications for the competitive grants are open now and the deadline to apply is September 30, 2021. All applications must be submitted via an online form (to see all application questions, click here but please note that this is for informational purposes only and cannot be used to submit an application). Applicants will be asked to include narrative statements about the project they are applying for, including the expected outcomes and drought preparedness impacts.
Eligible entities include Tribes; state government, municipalities, enterprises, counties and agencies; districts including Authorities, title 32/Special Districts (conservancy, conservation and irrigation districts); Federal agencies that apply with a state entity; Private Incorporated entities including mutual ditch companies, homeowners associations and corporations; Private individuals, partnerships and sole proprietors; and Non-Governmental Organizations.
We agreed there should be balance between lockdown measures and economic interests.
We patiently accumulated evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
We kept our cool through every quack remedy and grifter treatment.
We offered guidance to the confused and correctives to the misinformed.
We forbore ignorant assertions that the coronavirus was a hoax, bratty defiance of public health orders, puerile abuse of “freedom,” looney vaccine conspiracies.
We did this all with fear, as we watched wave after wave of infections disrupt our lives and kill members of our families.
But now, as we suffer through a second summer of illness and death, we find ourselves confronted with a category of people whose behavior is despicable — the COVID obstructionists, the ones who not only refuse to protect themselves but actively prevent others from doing so.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
There’s no point trying to understand them, no reasoning with them. They deserve no patience, no forbearance. The only reasonable response to these miscreants is anger. White hot anger.
Last weekend, Jefferson County Public Health staff were forced to close a mobile vaccination clinic after medical professionals were harassed and threatened. At one clinic someone threw some kind of liquid at a nurse. Passengers in cars threw garbage at the staff.
“It’s the epitome of selfishness and I am angry today,” Dawn Comstock, the agency’s executive director told The Denver Post.
Comstock speaks for all of us who have tried to do our part for the wellbeing of the community. We trusted the science. We recognized the obligation we have to our friends and neighbors. We accepted the inconvenience of mask-wearing and the negligible risks of vaccinations. We did this in service to the greater good. And in return, COVID deniers, pandemic conspiracists and vaccine obstructionists are literally killing us with their stupidity and selfishness. They are inflicting illness on our loved ones, and now we are angry.
What Comstock’s medical staff experienced is only one instance of a vile pattern of behavior in America. Blame starts with certain leaders.
From the very beginning of the pandemic some elected officials downplayed the danger. Former President Donald Trump assured Americans that the virus would magically disappear. He also promoted pea-brained treatments and made a show of not wearing a mask.
Colorado has long had its own COVID deniers, like Republican state Rep. Patrick Neville, who sued the governor over mask mandates, and various sheriffs who refused to enforce mask rules, and Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, who defied a public health order when she kept her Rifle restaurant open for sit-down service in May 2020.
Such tantrums set the tone for what was to come.
The emergence of vaccines held the promise of a return to normal life. But protection depended on community-wide participation, and too many Americans by the time the first vaccines were administered in December had been persuaded that the vaccines were unsafe or some nefarious form of government control. That meant that even with this pandemic-ending miracle of medical science at hand, some of our leaders and neighbors decided they would rather show off their imbecility than help eradicate the virus. Anti-vaccine parents were so threatening toward members of a school board in Grand Junction that board members had to have police escorts to their cars after a recent meeting. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to block Florida schools from issuing mask mandates. Fox News host Tucker Carlson encouraged viewers to harass people wearing masks and call police on parents of mask-wearing kids. Eleven states have prohibited mask mandates. And there are innumerable individual acts of obstruction of the sort witnessed in Jefferson County last weekend.
To what end? The country is gripped by a fourth wave of infections, and hospitals in many parts of the country, including Colorado, are approaching or exceeding capacity as unvaccinated patients pour in.
In the beginning of the pandemic, it was easier to tolerate ignorance and stubbornness. Not anymore, not with nearly 700,000 or more dead and the highly-contagious delta variant tearing through the population. Now we want severity. We want mask requirements. We want vaccine mandates. We want crisis standards of care that prioritize vaccinated patients.
We will grieve for the unvaccinated who don’t make it, but there’s only so much room in our hearts, because we’re grieving the loss of our own loved ones who did not have to die. They could still be with us, and we are angry that they’re not.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.