When economic incentives helped fix the ozone layer hole : The Indicator from Planet Money In the 1980s, a massive hole was discovered in the ozone layer. Since then, economic incentives, innovation, and a historic United Nations conference in Montreal set it on a path to close completely.

The Other Climate Crisis

The Other Climate Crisis

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Credit: Kenny Malone/Planet Money
Phillip Woollaston points toward the Earth&#039;s ozone hole.
Credit: Kenny Malone/Planet Money

Just a few decades ago, the world had to address an environmental crisis of epic proportions: There was a massive hole opening up in the ozone layer above the South Pole.

Human-made chemicals were floating up into the atmosphere and destroying the Earth's protective ozone shield, exposing the Earth to increased harmful ultraviolet rays. By 2020, the world could have had more than 100,000 extra melanoma deaths a year.

But unless you're a member of the atmospheric research community, odds are you haven't heard much about the hole in the ozone lately. That's because, in the past few decades, the hole is on track for a full recovery. In 2019, the ozone hole was the smallest on record since its discovery.

The reason why has to do with big business arguing for regulation at a historic United Nations conference in Montreal.

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