Environmental Woes of Tierra del Fuego -- Ozone Depletion
A kite flies below the bright spring sun near Tierra del Fuego's Sierra Alvear mountain range. In 2000, the Antarctic ozone hole reached record size at nearly 30 million square kilometers — several million more than all of North America. In 2001 the hole was nearly as large and lingered even longer into its three- to four-month cycle. Scientists are watching to see if an anticipated reduction in the ozone hole will begin in coming years, showing the start of a recovery that may take a half-century.
The size of the hole in 2000 attracted unprecedented media attention. Tourists stayed away from the region, fearing terrible sunburns. A slowing of the tourism economy made some locals red in the face. "It's not like there are ducks falling roasted from the sky around here," one travel agent in nearby Punta Arenas, Chile, said in the local paper. Though no serious problems have been seen in the human population, tiny effects in the local ecosystem may ripple through the environment for years to come.