Spring is in the air.  Unfortunately, not enough   ozone is in the upper atmoshere.  If, like me, you suffer from melanin deficiency syndrome (i.e., “fair” skin), you’d better lather up with extra strength sunblock:

April 27, 2005  |  

The protective ozone layer over the Arctic has thinned this winter to the lowest levels since records began, alarming scientists who believed it had begun to heal. The increased loss of ozone allows more harmful ultraviolet light to reach the Earth’s surface, making children and outdoor enthusiasts such as skiers more vulnerable to skin cancer — a disease that is already dramatically increasing. Scientists Tuesday reinforced the warning that people going out in the sun this summer should protect themselves with creams and hats.

More after the fold

Now I imagine some of you are thinking this was supposed to have been cleared up long ago.  Unfortunately, reversing environmental abuse is not always a simple matter of stopping fluorocarbons.  Sometimes, the effects are long lasting:

The research has dashed hopes that the ozone layer was on the mend. Since the winter of 1999-2000, when depletion was almost as bad, scientists had believed an improvement was under way as pollution was reduced. But they now believe it could be an additional 50 years before the problem is solved.

. . . Tuesday, professor John Pyle of the university said: “These were the lowest levels of ozone recorded since measurements began 40 years ago. We thought things would start to get better because of the phasing out of CFCs and other chemicals because of the Montreal protocol, but this has not happened. The pollution levels have leveled off, but changes in the atmosphere have made it easier for the chemical reactions to take place that allow pollutants to destroy ozone. With these changes likely to continue and get worse as global warming increases, ozone will be further depleted even if the level of pollution is going down.

So the next time someone tells you that environmentalists are all nuts and overblown fruitcakes prone to exaggerate the dangers of good ol’ American style pollution, just ask him or her: “Have you used your sunblock today?”  And don’t forget to add:  Because I think that looks like a cancerous mole on your neck . . .

“Overall, about 30 percent of the ozone layer was destroyed,” said Markus Rex, from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, another member of the team. He said the cold conditions that created polar stratospheric clouds were four times more extensive in 2005 than in the 1960s and 1970s.

Professor Pyle said overall the mixing of the air in the Northern Hemisphere was far more rapid than in the Antarctic, so a “hole” in the ozone layer did not occur. Instead, as the air mixed in spring, there was a general thinning of the protective ozone over the whole of the Northern Hemisphere. “It just means we have less natural protection than we should have and we are used to. It means that we should be careful about exposing ourselves to the sun, but that is already the case — this just makes things slightly worse,” he said.

Only slightly worse?  What a relief.  Now where’s my 45 spf lotion?

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