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How To Solve Every Global Crisis

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What four steps can solve every global crisis? Understand the problem, science your way to a plan, get political powers to agree, and take advantage of whatever luck comes your way. This MinuteEarth video shares the history of how this formula for success helped eradicate smallpox and heal the ozone layer.

Discovering a hole in the ozone layer
Can these four steps help end pandemics, reduce the effects of climate change, and solve other big planetary problems? Learn How To Solve Every Global Crisis. An excerpt that connects these four steps to history:

“…back in 1985, we followed a surprisingly simple formula that helped us stave off the impending ozo-pocalypse.

Step 1: Understand the problem. What was destroying ozone – the gas that makes up the ozone layer? Man-made molecules called CFCs, found in everything from hairsprays to refrigerators, were a prime suspect. And scientists found that when those molecules reach ice-cold stratospheric clouds and get hit by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, they release chlorine atoms that go on a turbo-charged ozone-destroying rampage, where each chlorine atom can destroy a hundred thousand ozone molecules.

Chlorofluorocarbons

Step 2: Science your way to a plan. It soon became obvious: the CFCs needed to go. Because hundreds of industries relied heavily on CFC molecules as propellants and refrigerants, scientists worked overtime to create replacement molecules that could do the same things CFCs could do but without accompanying ozone-destroying side effects.

Step 3: Get the political powers that be to agree. By 1987 – just two years after the ozone hole was discovered – many of the world’s most powerful nations signed a treaty – the Montreal Protocol – to stop producing CFCs, which cut off the supply of CFCs going into products – and therefore into the air.

President Ronald Reagan

Step 4: Take advantage of a little luck. Lots of different things had to break our way to get the Montreal Protocol signed. For example, then-US president Ronald Reagan – one of the biggest potential roadblocks due to his anti-regulation stance – happened to be a skin cancer survivor, and his surprisingly enthusiastic support was key to getting the treaty ratified. Since then, the concentration of CFCs in the atmosphere has been reduced by 98% and we’re on track to have our ozone shield back to its thick former glory by 2075.

Four steps to solve anything
This MinuteEarth video was sponsored by the Future of Life Institute who recently honored three scientists who helped save our ozone layer.

TEACHING RESOURCES
• The Ozone Hole: A NASA Earth Observatory for Kids pdf for elementary grade levels
• Chlorofluorocarbons and Ozone Depletion: American Chemical Society’s inquiry-based lesson plan and student activities for grades 9-12.
• About Small Pox: Activities and info from BrainPop.
• The history of vaccination – and opposition to it: A PBS NewsHour Extra lesson plan.

Watch these related climate change videos next:
Does ‘the ozone hole’ hold the secret to fixing climate change?
How can nature be used as a tool to restore ecosystems?
• How to Save Our Planet
• How do you rescue good ideas from the Valley of Death?
• What can young children do in the fight against climate change?
• How to Save Our Frozen Worlds: Clean Energy
• How to Save Our Jungles: Restoration and smart land use
How To Save Our Coastal Seas: Marine reserves and smart fishing

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