General Awareness

April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

Harmful Impact of Ozone depletion

MBA Aspirants are expected to know in regard to environmental aspects too. Today, you will read  Harmful Impact of Ozone depletion   
There has been a lot of fuss about ozone depletion over past several years. Have you ever wondered why it is of paramount concern? How will it affect you? 
Whether your answer is yes or no let us tell you that ozone depletion certainly seeks public’s attention and it affects each one of us.
Ozone depletion refers to two different phenomena which affects the life on earth in a significant way. In the first phenomenon the volume of ozone is declining in the ozone layer and in another a significant decrease is being witnessed in atmospheric ozone at the earth’s polar region. Both the phenomena differ to a certain degree but the reason behind their occurrence is somewhat same. 
It is important to understand what exactly ozone is and what is this ozone layer. Well, ozone is a gas, just like oxygen, which is made of three oxygen atoms rather than two and ozone layer is basically a deep layer of ozone (O3) in earth’s atmosphere, 20 to 30 kilometers above the ground. Although this gas appears to be quite similar to oxygen, yet it is very different than that. 
Had it been in our close surrounding in abundance, it would have produced a lot of smog into the air, making it unhealthy to breathe in. However, thankfully that is not the case and on the contrary it works in favor of life on earth from 20 to 30 kilometer above it.
Although the ozone layer is a very small fraction of the gases present in the atmosphere yet it is of immense importance for the existence of life on earth. The thin ozone layer, miles above the ground, shields the entire human race and other living beings from harmful ultraviolet radiations. 
This harmful radiation is nothing but the UV rays that are emitted by the sun and very harmful for living beings. Apart from this, ozone is also a green house gas and its existence in the polar region is very crucial for earth’s climate. 
Around late 1970s, the intelligent minds of the earth (i.e. scientists) observed that the ozone layer is depleting. They analyzed that this depletion allows more UV rays to reach the earth surface and hence can be a serious threat to the life on earth. Hence, they started examining its causes. 
It was observed that over past few decades, various human activities led to the production of several chemicals such as chloroflurocarbons, which were used in refrigerators, shaving sprays and for many other purposes. These chemicals were being carried away to the ozone layer by strong winds. 
Over there, UV radiations broke CFCs and released chlorine atmos. Each of these chlorine atoms broke around 100,000 ozone molecules. Thus ozone layer was depleting. 
Other such chemicals that adversely affect the ozone are methyl halons used in fire extinguishers, bromide used in pesticides and methyl chloroform used in businesses. However anti-ozone chemicals are not the only reasons accounting for ozone depletion.
A new scientific study has also emerged up that suggests that volcanic eruptions might have also contributed to the ozone depletion. To arrive at this conclusion the ozone layer was observed by the satellites for a long period. During that time period the ozone layer depleted significantly at the time of two major volcanic eruptions.
Now the questions that arise are- how impactful or hazardous the ozone depletion is? Is there anything to worry at all? Well, it affects the life on earth significantly and it might turn out to be hazardous if no effective actions are taken to prevent ozone depletion. Let us tell you why.
The atmospheric ozone absorbs UVB (which is a spectrum of UV rays based on its wavelength) on the earth’s surface at the Polar Regions. With the depletion of this atmospheric Ozone more UV rays will reach at the earth’s surface without being absorbed and hence will be a serious threat to the global climate. 
Ozone in the ozone layer, miles above the ground is equally crucial for life on earth. The more it depletes the more UV rays would pass through. These UV rays are very harmful for both humans and animals. 
They lead to skin cancer, cataract, excessive production of vitamin D in the body etc. Excessive exposure of UV rays also affects crops. For instance, rice crops depend on bacteria that reside in it roots. These bacteria are very sensitive to UV light and might die off by excessive exposure to it.
Due to the scientific findings regarding the use of chemicals that lead to the ozone depletion, an international treaty was signed to reduce the production of such chemicals. This treaty is called as Montreal Protocol and was signed in the year 1973. 
Since then, the ozone layer has been recovering significantly. However it must be noted that we have done nothing to improve the concentration of ozone in the ozone layer. We have only curbed the causes for its depletion. Then how is the ozone layer recovering?
Interestingly, the UV radiation that is blocked by the ozone layer itself helps in forming the ozone layer. The high wavelength UV rays separate the oxygen molecules (O2) in the ozone layer which individually recombine with other O2 molecules to form ozone (O3). Indeed, the nature beholds tremendous powers which are beyond human reach.
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