Introduction: Ozone Hole: How We Saved the Planet (00:54)
Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were improbable ecowarriors who saved Earth from imminent disaster by joining global efforts to recover the ozone.
First refrigerators could leak explosive toxic fumes. Thomas Midgley invented CFCs as a safe refrigerant; the chemical's threats were unapparent. They were used as propellant for bug spray in World War II, accelerating utilization in aerosol products.
CFC Detection (02:52)
Jim Lovelock observed air pollution around his British countryside home and invented an instrument measuring human-made gases in the atmosphere; he found chlorofluorocarbons in remote areas. He traveled to Antarctica, researching the chemical's reach.
CFC Behavior (02:31)
Mario Molina joined Sherry Rowland's lab in 1973. He began studying chlorofluorocarbons, finding them unreactive until reaching high altitudes, where solar radiation breaks them down, releasing chlorine gas.
Molina and Rowland's discovery equated to apocalyptic scenarios; they campaigned against chlorofluorocarbons use. The scientific community believed findings were exaggerated; chemical companies defended their product.
Fight Against CFCs (03:27)
In 1975, Du Pont promised to stop chlorofluorocarbons production if reputable scientific evidence was presented against them. Accustomed to social action, University of California Berkley scientists and lawyers took the challenge. John Kerry recalls the first Earth Day.
Media Attention (02:38)
In 1975, "All In The Family" discussed chlorofluorocarbons impacts, persuading the public to give up aerosols. The Food and Drug Administration banned the chemicals, but their phase out did not include refrigerant products.
Administrative Shifts (03:37)
Reagan appointed pro-industry Anne Gorsuch as Environmental Protection Agency head; she asserted chlorofluorocarbons research controversial, cutting research funds. New administrator Lee Thomas proposed a worldwide ban; in 1985, twenty nations signed the Vienna Convention.
Ozone Depletion (05:37)
Johnathon Shanklin discovered drastic atmospheric chlorofluorocarbos increase and ozone hole growth. He contacted NASA to confirm findings. Scientists endeavored to establish reasons for the loss.
Politics Versus Science (04:08)
John Negroponte recalls climate deniers and convincing the Reagan Administration of chlorofluorocarbons dangers. Donald Hodel's "Personal Protection Plan" includes citizens wearing hats. George Shultz persuades the president to support a World Treaty phase out.
Understanding Accelerated Growth (03:49)
While the U.S. negotiates chlorofluorocarbon phase out in Montreal, scientists investigate ozone hole causes in Antarctica. Susan Solomon finds that stratospheric clouds form ideal surfaces for chemical reactions; research planes are flown into the cavity to gather data.
Montreal Protocol (04:14)
In 1987, thirty countries agree to phase out chlorofluorocarbons. NASA confirms that human-made chemicals are destroying the ozone, and detects a hole in the northern hemisphere. Du Pont announces intent to end production and find refrigerant replacement.
Eliminating CFCs (02:47)
Chlorofluorocarbons use applied to 240 sectors; the Environmental Protection Agency struggled to develop alternatives for chemical companies. Developing nations could not afford new technologies; Margaret Thatcher worked to find funding, allowing their participation in the Montreal Protocol.
Successful Results (03:16)
In 1995, Rowland and Molina won the Nobel Prize for exposing chlorofluorocarbon effects on the ozone. It showed signs of recovery and was predicted whole by 2065. Without the chemical ban, solar radiation would have created unlivable conditions.
HFCs were invented to replace chlorofluorocarbons, but are linked green house gasses. Scientists and environmental lawyers work to ban them and encourage taking action against global warming.
Credits: Ozone Hole: How We Saved the Planet (00:26)
Credits: Ozone Hole: How We Saved the Planet
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