In the fall of 1974 a group of independent scientists were puzzled over an ozone hole above the earth that seemed to be expanding. They began to study it a little. Then, by the early eighties, they saw that the ozone hole had grown larger. Yet they had no explanation for it. So they sent flying lab planes down to Antartica and began flying directly through that ozone hole. What they discovered was that 35 percent of the earth's ozone layer had been eaten away, exposing the earth's inhabitants to a global warming and skin cancers and various other ills that would soon destroy life on earth.
They learned that chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) were the villain. Seems the very freon that was keeping our air conditioners cooling was actually destroying the only protecting shield that protects us from the sun.
Worse than that, it seems that some 200 plus sectors of the world's industry depended on CFC's to operate. The problem was so wide-spread it seemed nearly impossible to solve the problem.
Leaders from all over the world met to discuss the problem. Though the science was undeniable very few nations, including the larger nations, seemed willing to sacrifice their economy and their treasure to try and come up with a replacement for CFCs in so many segments of the economy. So the leaders walked away from a conference and did nothing.
Then George Schultz, President Reagan's Secretary of State got involved. He listened to what those scientists were telling him, weighed the scientific proof, then came to President Reagan with some dire warnings.
And, yes, President Reagan listened. He got on the phone to the CEO of the Dupont Corporation, the largest makers of those CFC's. Reagan told that CEO that he had better find a free market fix to come up with a replacement for CFCs damned quick. Remarkably Dupont responded with a Manhattan Project type effort....to stop production of CFCs and come up with a replacement.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher listened to the CFC evidence. Fortuitously she had studied chemistry so the learning curve was short and swift.
So, in 1987, President Reagan sent Secretary of State George Schultz and a team of American scientists to Montreal for a world wide meeting of the world's leaders. And, while Schultz was jaw-boning France and Germany and other world leaders, Miss Maggie got up on the stage, led those leaders through the science, pledged economic assistance by the west for the third world, and convinced the world's leaders that "no" was not an option.
So in 1987 the Montreal Protocols were signed, each nation pledging to rid their industries of those CFC's. In the years hence, scientists make their trek to the Antarctic every year. They found the sharp reduction of CFCs stopped the ozone erosion. Then it began to heal. Scientists now say that, in 20 years or so, the Ozone layer will become completely healed.
Yes, we still have many climactic problems that comes with 8 billion people inhabiting our planet. But those same scientists say we would not have had a planet to worry about had not President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher led the way in healing the ozone layer that would have been gone today, all of us burning to death, our protective shield gone forever.
Two right wing nuts, leading a market-driven, scientific fix, even as the far left made fun of both of them and warning of "global cooling".
Note: I was inspired to read up on this by a PBS special that aired this week. It must have been hard for liberals to watch as two "right wing nuts" worked to save our planet.