Until recently, it looked like the depleted ozone layer protecting the Earth
from harmful solar rays was on its way to being healed.
But thanks in part to an explosion of demand for air conditioners in hot places
like India and southern China — mostly relying on refrigerants already banned in
Europe and in the process of being phased out in the United States — the ozone
layer is proving very hard to repair.
Four months ago, scientists discovered that the "hole" created by the world's
use of ozone depleting gases — in aerosol spray cans, aging refrigerators, and
old air conditioners — had expanded again, stretching once more to the record
size of 2001.
An unusually cold Antarctic winter, rather than the rise in the use of
refrigerants, may have caused the sudden expansion, which covered an area larger
than North America.
But it has refocused attention on the ozone layer, which protects people and ...