THE OZONE LAYER
The Ozone layer is like a thin shield very high in the sky that protects the
Earth from the Sun’s harmful radiation; the UV rays. “The Ultra
Violet light has shorter wavelengths to the human eye although some insects can
see them” ('Mission:
Science. 'Ultraviolet waves. NASA,
2011. Web. 20 Aug 2012.).
The Sun is the source of ultraviolet radiation, the radiation is divided in
UV-A, UV-B and UV-C, these last ones are the most
harmful and are the ones that are almost completely absorbed by the atmosphere.
UV-B rays are the ones that cause sunburn and the exposure to this rays
increases DNA and cellular damage, about 95 percent of the UV-B rays are
absorbed by Ozone.
Ozone is a natural gas that is found in two different layers of the atmosphere,
one of them is the troposphere, this is at the Earth’s surface, where we
live, ozone in the troposphere is bad because it causes the air to get dirty
and it’s not good to breath, Ozone is also found in the stratosphere,
which is miles above the Earth’s surface and there is good because it
absorbs some of the UV rays as it is mentioned before.('Ozone
Layer.' Sunwise kids. N.p.,
2009. Web. 20 Aug 2012.)
In 1980 scientist began finding clues that make them figure out that the ozone
layer was going away, which allowed more UV radiation to reach theEarth and by
the 1990’s British Scientist discovered a damage
to the atmosphere in the Antarctic. Gases such as CFC’s damaged the ozone
layer and created a huge hole, dangerous ultraviolet light could pass through
that hole and reach the Earth’s surface.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) are nontoxic and nonflammable chemicals that
contain atoms of carbon, chlorine and fluorine, they
are used to make aerosol sprays, some blowing agents for foams, solvents and
Refrigerators in the early 1900 used toxic gases as ammonia (NH3), methyl
chloride (CH3Cl) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) as refrigerants. After a series of
fatal accidents in 1920 caused because methyl chloride leaked out of
refrigerators, three American corporations: Frigidaire, General Motors and Du
Pont collaborated for the search of a less toxic replacement and in 1928
CFC’s where synthesized by Thomas Midgley Jr of General Motors.
CFC’s can be safe to use in a lot of applications and are inert in the
lower atmosphere, but they mean a significant reaction in the upper atmosphere
or stratosphere as they could be a major source of inorganic chlorine, and some
of that chlorine would destroy the ozone in that specific layer.(Welkins, J..
'Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).' The Chapman &
Hall encyclopedia of Environmental Science. KluwerAcademic,
1999. Web. 20 Aug 2012).
Scientists believe that the increases in skin cancer, plant damage and
reduction of plankton in oceans may result from that increased UV exposure
because of the ozone depletion. In 2006 the hole in the ozone layer was largest
than ever with 11 million square miles.
In 1980 a businessman used an antitranspirant to impress his secretary, it
didn’t work, and a side effect of sprays in 80’s was that the
CFC’s gases inside the can damaged the Ozone layer, in 2007 the same
businessman complained about his hair loss due to years of exposure to
unfiltered sun rays directly on his head.
Environmental scientist James Lovelock renowned for his predictions of climate
change’s deadly impact on the planet, he admitted that his prediction was
alarmist, he is also the one who developed the Gaia theory of earth as a single
organism, he said climate change is still happening
but not as fast as he said before.
Five years ago he claimed “before this century is over, billions of us
will die and the few remaining people will live in the Arctic where the climate
will remain tolerable”, he also said that the problem was that we
didn’t know what the environment was doing, they thought they knew 20
years ago because it looked so clear, but it hasn’t happened, “I
will not go back on climate change”he said, and admitted he had been
extrapolating too far so it will suggest how people can change their habits to
be coordinated with the Earth’s natural systems. Something can be done
There is an international agreement called the “Kyoto protocol” that is linked to the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and it’s
major feature is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries
and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to an average
of five percent against 1990 levels in a period of 5 years (2008-2012). It
recognizes that the developed countries are the ones that are mainly
responsible for the current levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere that are
results of more than 150 years of industrial activity. This protocol was
adopted in Kyoto
on December 11 of 1997 and entered in to the force on February 16 2005.
Under the protocol, countrie’s actual emissions have to be monitored and
they have to keep precise records of trades carried out, this protocol is
generally seen as an important step towards a truly global emission reduction
regime that will stabilize Green House Gas emissions, it also provides the
essential architecture for whatever internationall agreement to be made on the
future. By the end of the first commitment period of the KyotoProtocol in 2012
a new segment has to be integrated, an extension of the Kyoto treaty, EU said
that it will sign up to the extention up to 2020 it by 2015 all nations agree
in a new legal treaty that will come in into force. But many other
industrialized nations including US, Japan
and Russia said that they wont sign up into any agreement based on Kyoto’s
principles although Australia
wants to join. All the comments about Australia wanted to get in were welcomed
by green groups that said it will give the government political freedom to
approve an extension of the Kyoto treaty and in that way with Australia’s
help the emissions cut be cut up to five percent by 2020, let’s keep
forward more nations joining if they want the planet to survive.