We celebrate World Ozone Layer Day!
Since 1994, World Ozone Day is celebrated each year on the 16th of September to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol. This international agreement signed in 1987 aims to reduce the production and consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances. The International Day aims to educate and raise awareness about the topic and address global issues to mobilise political will and resources.
If you are passionate about Climate Change and Green Solutions, stay tuned; this article will inform you about Ozone Layer Day and how you can take action against Climate change and become a green leader for our greener future.
The Ozone Layer: Earth’s natural Sunscreen.
Going back to physics class in high school, the ozone layer is mainly composed of ozone molecules (O3), meaning three oxygen atoms bonded together. It is located around 10 to 30 kilometres above the Earth's surface and is one layer of our planet's stratosphere. The stratosphere is the mass of protective gasses around the globe and the second layer of Earth's atmosphere. The ozone layer's main job is to absorb the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation harmful to humans and other living organisms; thus, it helps preserve life on Earth.
Human activities such as the emission of various chemicals, such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), have taken a toll on the ozone layer. This led to thinning the layer and even creating the so-called ozone hole in Antarctica. The ozone layer depletion is concerning as it allows more harmful radiation from the sun to reach our planet's surface. This causes serious health issues for us humans and damages our environment.
Therefore, in 1987, several nations signed the so-called Montreal Protocol to fix the ozone layer and reduce climate change. With signing the agreement, the participants decided to take measures to control the global production and consumption of substances that deplete the ozone layer.
How does the Ozone layer protect our planet?
There are multiple ways in which the ozone layer protects our planet. The fragile shield of gas protects us and all living beings in our home. Firstly, the ozone layer absorbs harmful sun ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation can cause serious health concerns to us humans, such as sunburns, immune system suppression, or skin cancer. The ozone layer acts as a natural shield, preventing these harmful lights from reaching the Earth's Surface.
Moreover, The ozone layer protects our ecosystems on land and in water. UV radiation is not just harmful to people but also to other living organisms. With the layer intact, it protects plants, including our crops, that otherwise would be harmed if exposed to too much UV light.
Further, the layer regulates our Climate. Yes, you heard right, the issue is connected to Climate Change. With the ozone layer being harmed, it is harder for our planet to regulate its temperature in our stratosphere, leading to less predictable weather patterns. Also, it can lead to increased temperature on the Earth's Surface and affect the distribution and behaviour of pollutants and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Ozone layer and Climate Change: Unlikely Partners.
While the ozone layer and Climate Change seem like distant relatives, they are indeed linked to one another. Ozone depletion and climate change are two puzzle pieces that influence each other. While ozone depletion does not directly cause climate change as greenhouse gasses do (CO2 and CH4), both issues are interconnected, and ozone depletion can indirectly affect climate change.
For one, ozone depletion in the stratosphere can lead to changes in the temperature of our planet. For example, the cooling of the stratosphere would affect the air circulation of the upper atmosphere and, therefore, influence the circulation patterns in the troposphere, which influences the weather on Earth. Hence, changes in the upper atmosphere can seriously affect the weather patterns. Plus, the released chemicals causing ozone depletion potent the greenhouse gases, thus contributing to global warming. The rise in temperature leads to the thermal expansion of seawater and the melting of ice caps, contributing to sea level rise.
While there is an effect on climate change, it is important to note that those are secondary compared to the greenhouse effect. The primary cause of global warming and climate change is the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere.
The Future is green.
Sustainability and climate change are top priorities on most agendas; whether in politics, charities, or businesses, the future is green.
Many young people have already understood the importance of green skills when entering the labour market. Companies are looking at new business models and green innovations to help find solutions to the climate crisis. In the face of environmental challenges, the next generation of leaders must adopt green skills.
We need to ensure the green colour in our environment never runs out. However, this will only happen if we sit down and do something about it. We are the ones to bring change. Hence, we need to focus on raising awareness about topics such as the ozone layer or the greenhouse effect and train ourselves in useful skills for a greener future.
The world is changing… So why aren’t we?
With the climate crisis at the top of our agendas, green skills are on the rise. A green transition is needed to combat the issue, transforming all economic activities and sectors and people's lifestyles into a greener alternative. The focus lies on reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gases that cause our climate to change.
But what exactly do we mean by green skills? They are knowledge, abilities, values, and attitudes required by the workforce in all sectors and levels to adapt products, services, and processes to changes caused by climate change and environmental requirements and regulations. (OECD,2017)
Let's say green skills are needed in the manufacturing sector. They must optimize energy usage, resulting in various benefits such as reduced energy consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improved operational efficiency. Green skills are closely related to critical thinking, creativity, and analytical problem-solving, which are in demand.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a green transition will create 8.4 million jobs for young people by 2030. Green occupations will give them the necessary skills to properly navigate this changing environment and capitalise on the opportunities that it brings.
How to become a green leader?
Now, becoming a green leader takes a little effort, as all changes do, but it is totally worth it!
Engage in Environmental activities: Join local sustainability events, participate in community clean-up events, or volunteer for conservation projects. Active involvement in environmental activities will help you build connections and gain experience.
Lead sustainable projects: Do you have a school or university project coming up? Why not address Climate Change and sustainability in your project. Leading these projects can help you discover new topics and evolve your knowledge.
Inspire others: great leaders inspire others to follow them and become active. If you are motivated and passionate about a topic within sustainability, share the passion with your peers. You can train presentation and communication skills to inspire others around you.
Get active: green skills are built in various ways, but make sure to be an active member of the community. If you do not know how to take action, check below.
Green leaders are needed for a greener future. Change starts with you. So be the change you want to see in the world.
If you still believe that becoming a green leader is an impossible task because you have no experience or you are too young, then let me tell you, you are wrong. Many young people have been leading figures when it comes to climate change. Take Greta Thunberg, for example; she inspired millions of young people at 15 to follow her and raise their voices about climate change. She is a prominent green leader and has greatly influenced many to become passionate about and contribute to climate action.
Now that we've delved into the importance of World Ozone Layer Day, understanding the ozone layer, its ties to climate change, and the significance of green skills, you might wonder, "How can I make a difference?" Here are a few ways to get actively involved:
Raise awareness: Just as I do with this blog post, you can raise awareness too. Simply start discussions in your class or friends group and inform others about the effects of Ozone depletion. If you are a pro at social media, create a TikTok video and show people around the world what you have learned. Sharing knowledge is a great way to get more people involved and create an impact.
Reduce your carbon footprint: Yes, Yes, you've heard it! Reducing your footprint on this planet can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions and positively affect climate change. You can easily reduce your carbon footprint by adopting eco-friendly habits such as eating veggie once a week, reducing your heating in winter (a warm sweater will keep you warm and cosy too), or changing your energy and gas contract to a greener alternative.
Educate yourself: Knowledge is power! Go to a second-hand bookshop and grab a book to read on the topic, or if you are more into movies, watch documentaries on your streaming platform and get all the information you need. You can also look up environmental programmes or join events in your community and, perhaps, who knows, find new friends with similar interests.
Advocate for change: All of the above is not enough? Then, join organisations actively promoting the matter and creating solutions for the issue.
Advocate for Change with AIESEC.
Since 2015, AIESEC has partnered with the UN to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals that address global issues such as the ozone layer depletion or climate change. We organise various volunteering programmes that work towards SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).
If you want to become active with AIESEC, sign up on our platform and have a look at our projects Rooted (SDG15) and Green Leaders (SDG13). Those projects focus on helping our planet through various tasks, such as planting trees in forests, restoring ecosystems, learning about the earth, or raising awareness in local communities about environmental issues. Volunteering in another country allows you to discover a new part of the world, explore and understand a new culture, and engage in social activities you are passionate about.
World Ozone Day is not just a reminder of the progress made so far but also a wake-up call to see the work ahead. By understanding the topic, the connection to climate change, and the role of green skills, we can all contribute to a greener future and healthier planet.