Ozone depletion is the breakdown of ozone molecules in the stratosphere, an event that could lead to the extinction of life on Earth. Throughout the media, ozone depletion (most commonly referred to as the “ozone hole”) is frequently discussed. Rumors fly as to why the hole is created and who’s at fault for the damage. With all the opinions on whether ozone depletion happens because of man, occurs naturally, or even occurs at all, one may wonder: What is ozone depletion? How does it affect life on Earth? Research shows that the depletion of ozone, occurring as a result of both human and natural actions, is destroying the Earth and causing harm to humans, plants, and animals.
As a prerequisite to understanding the damage caused to the ozone layer, the components of ozone must be analyzed. Ozone is an irritating, gradually destructive, colorless gas. It smells slightly of burning electrical wire (Sparling) and has a tinge of blue color (Morgan). Ozone is created when oxygen molecules separate because of either energetic electrons or radiation with high energy (Sparling).
Much of the Earth’s ozone lies in the ozone layer, high above the Earth. As its name indicates, the ozone layer is a layer made up of the components of ozone. The ozone layer absorbs ninety-seven to ninety-nine percent of the Earth’s ultraviolet light, light that comes from the sun and is dangerous to life on Earth (Sparling). Despite the ozone layer’s presence, ultraviolet light is still illuminating our planet. This is partly because harmful chemicals used in industry and manufacturing easily damage ozone and the ozone layer. These chemicals are known as CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons. Some scientists argue that the ozone depletion is unrelated to chemicals. Instead, they rely on the theory that the ozone layer is depleted because of natural causes. The debate on the existence and or reasons for ozone depletion still goes on today (Morgan).
destruction is not visible to the human eye. To study the ozone layer,
scientists use satellites (
often referred to as the “ozone hole”, in reality, there is no actual hole in
the ozone. Scientists refer to the ozone hole because half or more of the
ozone layer is destroyed (
to the ozone hole may be focused on either of two locations: In the
stratosphere, or at the affected place on Earth. The ozone hole is located in
the stratosphere, which is between six and twenty-five kilometers above the
Earth. On Earth, scientists refer to the ozone hole as affecting
Credit for the discovery of the ozone hole, in 1985, goes to scientist Dr. Joseph Forman. By this time, people had already discovered that the ozone layer was being damaged, but Forman informed people how much damage was actually being done. Some scientists had previously attempted to spread the message focusing on the effects of CFCs. Alas, this message was not well-spread and did not have much of an impact (Morgan).
Forman alerted people of his discovery, people around the world began to
eliminate CFCs to protect Earth. In 1987, seventy nations signed the Montreal
Protocol, a document that would stop countries from producing CFCs. The goal
in creating this document was to eliminate the creation of CFCs by the year
the actions taken against the harm in the ozone layer, a great deal of damage
had already been done, as Dr. Forman explained. In 1994, the hole was four
percent of Earth’s surface, bigger than the size of Europe (
hole was discovered, scientists in
Most scientists around the world believe that ozone is depleted because of human activity. CFCs are considered the largest man-made reason for ozone depletion. One might wonder: If these CFCs were so problematic, why would anyone create them? CFCs were invented in the 1920s. They were first used in spray (aerosol) cans, cooling liquids in refrigerators, and air conditioning systems (Morgan). In those years, CFCs were extremely popular, as they were relatively inexpensive, nontoxic, and could be shipped in massive quantities (Hazen).
as chemicals are used every day in manufacturing, one might wonder what makes
CFCs any different. CFCs are made up of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon
(Saving). When they are exposed to the sun, they release chlorine atoms (
Though CFCs are a major part of ozone depletion, it is not the only source to blame. Other man-made causes include aircraft engines, which contain nitrogen oxides that speed up the breakdown of ozone. Space shuttles release hydrogen chloride, the gas found in volcanic eruptions, which can also be damaging. Pesticides and cleaning agents also result in ozone depletion, since a chemical in them known as methyl bromide can destroy ozone forty times more effectively than CFCs. All of these man-made creations continually harm our environment (Morgan).
Natural causes, in the opinion of some scientists, are the sole reason for ozone depletion. Natural causes for ozone depletion include stratospheric sulfate aerosols (volcanic eruptions), high stratospheric winds, greenhouse gases, lightning, and forest fires. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about these natural causes (Sparling).
depletion drastically changes life on Earth in a negative way. Although it is
true that humans require some ultraviolet light in order to produce Vitamin
D, a chemical that creates healthy bones, too much UV light is harmful. The
first sign of too much UV light reaching the human body is sunburn. If the
light continues to reach the body, cancer cells will develop and eventually
grow out of control (Morgan). In fact,
experts agree that a one percent decrease of ozone can lead to a three
percent increase in skin cancer and melanoma in humans. People with fairer
skin are more affected by UV rays because they do not have as much pigment as
people with darker skin. This pigment can help protect against skin cancer.
The increase of UV rays can also cause eye problems, such as cataracts (
UV light causes problems for humans, animals and plants are affected as well.
Animals, especially cattle and sheep, can also suffer from similar eye and
skin problems (Morgan). This light can also kill phytoplankton, a food source
for many marine animals. If this species becomes extinct, the whole food
chain could be disrupted. As far as plants, too much UV light can stunt their
In conclusion, humans must do all that they can to stop ozone depletion (Saving). People can help stop ozone depletion by using ozone-friendly aerosol cans, or pump-action sprays. They can also use ozone-friendly refrigerators, and dispose of toxic waste at specific dumping sites (Morgan). People are also using alternative fuels to replace CFCs, such as hydrocarbons, which are more economical than CFCs (Saving). Because of ozone depletion, people are uniting around the world. After all, there is only one Earth; we must preserve its beauty.
This painting, known as “In August Rays”, indirectly shows information about my topic. In the picture, the sun’s rays are beating down upon our planet. This is to show that a large amount of UV rays are shining on the earth. It also tells a story that although the sun seems innocent enough, the danger is disguised. This is because, although people appreciate the warmth of the sun, it may be harming the people basking in its rays. This thought comes to mind in the artwork, because it shows an overall friendly setting, but symbolizes the damage of ozone depletion. The artist, Korobow Vadim, is a professional artist with previous painting experience. Finding the meaning in this painting is part of its beauty.
Title of Panting:“In August Rays”
Painted By: Korobow Vadim
Painting Date: Unknown
Fire In the Heavens
Fire in the heavens, and fire along the hills,
and fire made solid in the flinty stone,
thick-mass'd or scatter'd pebble, fire that fills
the breathless hour that lives in fire alone.
This valley, long ago the patient bed
of floods that carv'd its antient amplitude,
in stillness of the Egyptian crypt outspread,
endures to drown in noon-day's tyrant mood.
Behind the veil of burning silence bound,
vast life's innumerous busy littleness
is hush'd in vague-conjectured blur of sound
that dulls the brain with slumbrous weight, unless
Some dazzling puncture let the stridence throng
in the cicada's torture-point of song.
This poem metaphorically relates to ozone depletion. In the poem, when it refers to fire, it is intended in my case that the fire is sunlight (UV rays) that are shining on Earth. They spread quickly and reach almost every corner and inch of Earth’s surface. Although the poem is talking about a beautiful thing, such as the sun, it has a sad meaning. This is the same as how UV light is being let into our Earth, and how the ozone layer is being damaged. The writer, Christopher Brennan, was a famous poet who lived from the year 1870 to 1932. Brennan’s words live on, however, explaining the event of ozone depletion.
Poem Title: “Fire in the Heavens”
Poet: Christopher Brennan
Date of Creation: Unknown
to Reptar, King Of The Ozone:
Bring it to your lips and experience
The sulfur infect everything that we've created.
Don't twist this around.
Don't attempt to justify what we know is wrong.
Tendons are torn and screams are released
Into a poisoned, mathematic atmosphere.
We're composing our funeral
songs, note, (note) note by note. (by
We're composing our funeral songs, note, (note) note by note. (by note)
With this I declare that tomorrow is an allusion.
What if the clouds are, are fragments of mistakes,
Fabricated by the factors of our foolishness?
We're composing our funeral songs, note (note) note by note. (by note)
We're composing our funeral songs, note (note) note by note.
Prove me wrong (3x)
The song, “Reptar, King of the Ozone”, is a song by the band, The Devil Wears Prada. They perform music in heavy metal/thrash genre. This lyrical performance is directly related to my topic. The song addresses a struggling, damaged atmosphere, and the fact that it is negatively affecting life on Earth. It shows that humans are at fault for at least some of the problems in our environment. The song also tells of the deadly consequences of the damaged environment, if they are ignored. When this song comes to mind, so does a damaged environment.
Song Name: “Reptar, King of the Ozone”
Artist: The Devil Wears Prada
Album Release Date: 2007
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsE1llPoZ6Y
This photograph shows one of the many causes of ozone depletion. In the picture, various CFC cans are shown. CFCs are the main man-made of ozone depletion. This photo shows the various cans, and also shows what aerosol cans are. It shows the containers in which CFCs are stored. The photographer, Levi Siuzdak, is an amateur photographer. She owns her deserved rights to this photo, as the photographer. This photo helps to explain how ozone depletion is created.
Photograph Title: “Spray Cans”
Photographer: Levi Siuzdak
Date of Creation: November 18, 2008
URL: http://teenhealth.about.com/od/substanceuse/ig/In halant-Gallery/Spray-Cans.htm
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