The ozone layer is located in the stratosphere, one of the highest layers of the atmosphere, and its height is not changing. Rather, the problem with the ozone layer is the fact that certain chemicals generated by human activities cause holes in the ozone layer to form. Historically, chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, as well as other compounds containing chlorine and bromine, were used in technologies from cooling systems to hairsprays. In response to this problem, most countries that were major contributors to ozone depletion signed the Montreal Protocol in 1987; this international treaty was designed to phase out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, and the United States joined other major economies in crafting it. Today, the ozone layer has still not fully recovered from chemicals emitted years ago – but the Montreal Protocol has greatly reduced the amount of ozone depleting chemicals in use around the world. This international agreement is an impressive example of how countries can come together to effectively address an environmental problem. Hopefully, the countries of the world will use this example to inspire solutions to other great environmental challenges of our time.
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