Why did Mexican scientist Mario Molina win the Nobel Prize?

Mario Molina was one of the most important scientists, his contributions made various nations work together to protect the ozone layer. REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia

On December 10, 1995, Mario Molina Pasquel received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Stockholm, Sweden; thanks to his research on the negative effects of the use of industrial gases in the atmosphere. His contributions were published in the journal Nature in 1974 and due to his work he obtained the award together with Frank Sherwood, an academic from the University of California-Irvine and Paul Crutzen, a Dutch chemist.

At work, Dr. Molina and his colleagues talked about how chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damaged the ozone layer, which were commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Likewise, their contributions warned about the thinning of the ozone spherewhich is the main defense that humanity has to protect itself from ultraviolet rays and thanks to this, the international community stopped the use of CFCs.

It was on October 11, 1995 when the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that the Nobel Prize was for the scientists Molina, Sherwood and Crutzen, it was the latter who reinforced the investigation discovering how the gases affected the ozone layer. The award was delivered until December 10 of the same year and with it other actions took place for the benefit of planet earth.

Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 (Photo: Twitter/DeMemoria)
Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 (Photo: Twitter/DeMemoria)

In addition to the achievement of putting humanity to work for a common good, the study also contributed to the creation of Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. This environmental protection mechanism was signed by 28 nations on March 2, 1985, the agreement led to the writing of the Montreal Protocol.

Currently, this protocol regulates the consumption as well as the manufacture of substances that deplete the ozone layer (ODS) and promotes the reduction of the consumption of gases used to replace ODS, which, although they do not affect the ozone sphere, do promote actions in favor of the environment. It should be noted that the agreement is ratified by the 197 countries that make up the United Nations and due to the progress made, it is considered one of the most successful protocols.

According to information from the Federal Government, the implementation of these agreements has managed to reduce the consumption of ODS by 99 percent and it is expected that by 2060 the ozone layer will be fully recovered. Were it not for Molina’s research, it is likely that the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention would not have been created.

Mario Molina was born on March 19, 1943 in Mexico Citygraduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) as a Chemical Engineer, did his postgraduate studies at the University of Freiburg in 1967 and at the University of Berkeley, California, where he received his doctorate in Physical Chemistry in 1972.

Mario Molina passed away at the age of 77 EFE/ José Méndez/Archive
Mario Molina passed away at the age of 77 EFE/ José Méndez/Archive

His career and interests led him to be the pioneer in atmospheric chemistry research in the world and thanks to this an agreement was created for the care of the ozone layer: the Montreal Protocol, which was the first international treaty that has managed to deal with the environmental problem.

The Mexican scientist was also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), at the University of Irvine in California and at UNAM, his time at different universities and scientific academies led him to win multiple awards, including 40 honorary doctorates.

Died October 7, 2020 in Mexico City.


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Why did Mexican scientist Mario Molina win the Nobel Prize?