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Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator… Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 141.
Today the world celebrates the United Nations’ International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, and today nature—and humanity–truly has something to celebrate.
Early in the 1970’s, scientists realized the Earth’s fragile protective atmospheric layer of ozone had thinned dramatically. They determined that the loss of its protection from harmful solar radiation could happen very quickly if the world’s nations, and the world’s corporations, didn’t act fast. Without the protection of the ozone layer, crops and marine life around the world were endangered—not to mention the massive negative impact on climate change and the millions of people who would contract skin cancer as a result.
Some companies that produced and sold ozone-depleting chemicals initially denied the scientific findings and fought global treaties to ban those chemicals. Fortunately, they failed. Instead, the world recognized the danger, and ultimately 197 nations signed the Montreal Protocol of 1987, agreeing to phase out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals used in spray cans, refrigerators, insulation foam and fire suppression materials.
As a result, the ozone layer is slowly healing. The United Nations just announced that a team of 300 scientists have determined that the ozone layer will likely return to its 1980 levels by 2050: “There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a celebratory statement, as well—but he coupled it with a renewed warning about the imperative need for global action to mitigate the effects of climate change:
Just over a quarter-century ago, the world united to reverse the rapid depletion of the atmospheric ozone layer, which protects Earth from harmful radiation from space. Today, the ozone layer is well on track to recovery within the next few decades.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is widely recognized as one of the most successful environmental treaties in history. It establishes legally binding controls on the national production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and enjoys universal ratification by 197 parties.
Recent scientific findings reveal the importance of the Montreal Protocol. Without the Protocol and associated agreements, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased ten-fold by 2050. Concerted action has prevented millions of cases of skin cancer.
The Protocol has also significantly contributed to the fight against climate change, as many ozone-depleting substances are powerful greenhouse gases. Climate change is affecting communities, economies and ecosystems across the globe. It is essential that we act to mitigate the threat with the same unity of purpose as we have in facing the dangers of ozone depletion.
Let us take inspiration from our efforts to preserve the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol has shown that decisive action by the international community, including the private sector, can achieve transformative results for the common good. Let us learn from this example and apply its lesson to the urgent task of addressing the climate challenge.
The Baha’i teachings, for the past 150 years, have proclaimed the absolute necessity of world unity in the face of humanity’s global challenges. The agreements reached in the Montreal Protocol, and the consistent and diligent efforts of the world’s nations and corporations, have now clearly demonstrated that a unified planetary effort to protect the environment can succeed.
So when you go outside today, look up at our healing sky and consider this:
Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. …It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.
Such exhortations to union and concord as are inscribed in the Books of the Prophets by the Pen of the Most High bear reference unto specific matters; not a union that would lead to disunity or a concord which would create discord… Well is it with them that appreciate the meaning and grasp the intent of these words, and woe betide the heedless. Unto this all the evidences of nature, in their very essences, bear ample testimony. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 167-168.