A Bad Case of Gas
The Montreal Protocol to heal the ozone hole is the poster child of successful environmental treaties; the general consensus is that as the treaty’s targets are met, the ozone hole will disappear, and the earth will be protected from the harmful ultraviolet radiation that leaks through. Not so fast, says the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and London. According to the agency, a multi-million-dollar black market in gases that deplete the ozone layer (especially chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs) has sprung up to supply developing nations with the illicit substances. Used in air conditioning and refrigerators, the banned gases are far cheaper than their cleaner counterparts. The agency estimates the illegal trade at 20,000 tons and says it could undo the success of the Montreal Protocol.