Replicating the Montreal Protocol’s Success … in Space

January 10, 2023

Earth’s protective ozone layer, once threatened by pollution from certain common chemicals, is now expected to recover completely, thanks to the Montreal Protocol, a United Nations agreement activated in 1989 to phase out use of the harmful substances. In Issues, Stephen J. Garber and Lisa Ruth Rand call for applying lessons from the protocol to another pressing problem: orbital debris that increasingly threatens satellites and other spacecraft. This “space junk,” left behind by various government and commercial space activities, is essentially a type of pollution, the authors argue—the very kind of thing the protocol has so successfully reduced.

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