Ozone Layer Depletion: The Threat Faced By Us | Ozone Depletion and Its Effects | Ozone Hole ~ Friendly Eco Might

Monday, 16 June 2014

Ozone Layer Depletion: The Threat Faced By Us | Ozone Depletion and Its Effects | Ozone Hole

Ozone Layer Depletion

A Hole in Our Earth's Armour

Humans, without being able to understand Nature completely or chalk out their activities in the interests of its protection, have got themselves stuck into a big problem i.e., the Ozone Problem.

Ozone (O3) is a gas, which is closely related to oxygen (O2). Like oxygen, ozone is also a great friend of all living forms on earth, as it shields the earth from the harmful UV radiations of the sun. Ozone surrounds the earth completely and blocks the path of the UV rays.

Where did this ozone come from?

When the earth was in its initial stage of development, there was no ozone. Several biochemical reactions lead to the formation of oxygen. When sunrays came in contact with oxygen, ozone was formed. Ozone which gets produced recurrently in this way has now formed a 15 mile thick fortress around the earth and defends the inhabitants of earth from the sun UV rays.

From the 60th decade of the previous century, rumors were set afloat that the Ozone layer had got a bit thinner. In 1974, a big hole was observed in this Armour of our Earth! The hole was over the North Pole. Similar holes were observed over the South Pole in 1984.

Who is the cause for Ozone hole?

Now, scientists have confirmed that the crook who has laid siege on this Ozone fortress and is causing turmoil is none other 'Chlorine'. Chlorine is used extensively as a refrigerant, solvent, in spray cans, foam packaging and in other smaller applications. Few other chlorine-containing compounds include methyl chloroform, which is a solvent, and carbon tetrachloride, an industrial chemical. Halons, which are extremely effective fire extinguishing agents, and many effective produce and soil fumigants, also contain chlorine. All such chemicals are collectively called as CFCs (Chloro Fluro Carbons).

How are these compounds depleting Ozone Layer?

All of these compounds have special lifetimes long enough to allow them to be transported by winds into the stratosphere. Once there, they break down due to the sun’s radiation and release chlorine. The chlorine thus released combined with ozone to form chlorine monoxide, which is a highly unstable compound. Due to its instability, it again gets broken down into chlorine and oxygen. The chlorine thus released then combines with another ozone molecule. This leads to a gradual decline in the ozone layer.

What would happen if Ozone Layer continues to deplete?

Between 1969-1988, the ozone layer had seen a decrease of about 1.7 – 3%. According to WHO, if the ozone layer decreases by another 1%, then the risk of blindness, cancer and other such UV caused diseases would increase by about 3%.

This astounding development has lead to much turmoil within the scientific world. In the interests of the health and well being of the entire human race, a few important decisions were taken and agreements were signed by nations across the world. But all such things are easier said than done.

What is the response to Ozone Layer depletion?

Though many nations across the world signed such agreements and organized many discussions on that issue, none were able to ban the use of CFCs. Many developing countries (including India) have already invested millions in the production and usage of CFCs. So, many environmentalist organizations are trying to pressurize the government to stop the production of these chemicals. Hope they succeed and the mighty fortress of our ecosystem, the Ozone Layer stands strong enough to protect our Earth for years to come!

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The Author

Somanath Yadavalli is 19 year old guy, who is pursuing his B.Tech (Electronics and Communication Engineering) in The National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, Karnataka, India. He is managing several blogs from his own living room. His passion is to do something for his planet. Read more...

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