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Challenge # 3 Week of Sept 16-20, 2013: Ozone Discussions

September 8, 2013


Three Oxygen molecules.  At ground level, hazardous to our health and in the stratosphere, hazardous if not present.

When I was a lad, an outdoor education field trip or study of environmental education tended to focus on Acid Precipitation.  This was the early to mid 1980’s and a time when Trudeau and Mulroney were arguing with Reagan about the causes of acid rain. Reagan was quoted as saying it was exacerbated by natural phenomena such as trees and ducks.

Then later, in high school the environmental crisis du jour was Ozone depletion. I wonder sometimes if part of the reason ‘80’s haircuts such as Farrah Fawcett’s didn’t survive into the ‘90’s was due to the fact hair spray was never the same again when CFC’s were removed.  By the time the Montreal Protocol  was in place, I was working full-time “in the field”.


With each decade of course a new list of environmental concerns faces us. And, with each year, teachers face a difficult problem in trying to inform their students about these issues without making it seem if all hope is lost.

With September 16, 2013 being  The UN’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer – I’m going to make my weekly challenge to local schools focus on middle school and high school. For the week of Sept. 16-20, 2013, as you discuss climate change, consider a little more attention – and perhaps the importance of the Debate to Ozone preservation. It’s important to bring it up as a concern, as it still is of course, but I think it is also important to focus on the fact it has been taken seriously. Can Science and Politics mix? What is a Scientists role after the research? I eagerly ask you to share via Twitter or blogs of your own the reactions from yourself or student discussion.

It’s easy to focus on the new, shiny global issues however I encourage time spent discussing positives of those issues we’ve faced for a while as well.

There are many positives to focus on:

  1. The Montreal Protocol, to this day is still the most widely ratified treaty on the United Nations books.
  2. CFC production has lowered to extremely low levels and the US is actually fast forwarding their target dates 
  3. Although in 2006, the ozone hole in the Antarctic was as large as it has ever been, scientists seem to think we are on the right track and by 2065, if allowed to heal, the ozone layer there will heal. This YouTube video, about 2.5 minutes in length explains this well.
  4. As recently as last week’s G20 meetings in St Petersburg, China and the US discussed a renewed push.
  5. From the first studies in the early 1970’s to the first drafts of the Montreal Protocol 15 years had passed. In the world of political reaction, this is not too bad at all.
  6. We’ve gone from discussion of Ozone depletion, to Ozone preservation. A simple word change, but in my mind inspiring.

There are outstanding lesson plans on the internet for the discussion.

Ozone Depletion Tips for Kids (Middle School)

Secondary School Lesson Plans: Cool The World

Resources for Rethinking (Middle School/High School)


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