Ben Richmond at Motherboard highlights a climate change success story:
The Montreal Protocol, already hailed by Kofi Anan as “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date,” can add another feather to its cap. In addition to slowing the growth, and then shrinking, of the hole in the ozone layer, the researchers have used computer models to demonstrate that without the reduction of CFCs, the environmental changes projected for the next decade—already expected to be really bad—would be twice as severe.
It certainly wasn't part of the reason for ratifying the Montreal Protocol, which was aimed specifically at reducing the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, but it's another positive result–collateral benefit, if you will. "We dodged a bullet we did not know had been fired," said Richard Seager, a scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who coauthored the study.
The researchers ran a computer model that projected a world where the Montreal Protocol wasn’t signed and CFC use continued unabated through the ‘90s to the present. They found that global rainfall patterns—which are changing severely enough in reality from rising carbon dioxide levels–would have been disrupted twice as badly.
Richmond goes on to recall what happened when people learned there was a hole in the ozone layer:
But then a magical, unthinkable thing happened. Consumers, nations, and the UN agreed that having an ozone layer is a worthwhile thing. Through self-imposed boycotts, national laws and almost 200 nations ratifying the Montreal Protocol since it was first agreed upon in 1987, the use of nearly 100 damaging chemicals was reduced by nearly 100 percent.
This is the sort of the group effort towards a global solution that is needed to slow climate change. It seems like so much has changed in the public since the early 90s, but hopefully we're not so different that we can't cooperate on this scale once again.