Ozone Layer Depletion Facts

Is there really a hole in our Ozone Layer? 

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Time left to recovery of the ozone hole

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TheWorldCounts, 22 March, 2014

Is there really a hole in our Ozone Layer? 

It’s called a hole but it doesn’t really look like a hole. But there’s an area in Antarctica where the ozone layer in the atmosphere is severely depleted.

Life flourished in our planet for millions of years because we had an ozone layer that protected us from the rays of the sun. 

While the warmth of the sun is necessary for our survival, its ultraviolet radiation is harmful to humans, plants, animals and our planet. 

Just imagine, even with our ozone layer in place, if you stay in the sun too long your skin will get burned. What more if we had no ozone layer? Our whole planet will slowly fry.

Ozone Layer Depletion Facts

Ozone is a form of naturally occurring gas – and 90% of our planet’s ozone is in the stratosphere. It is constantly being renewed and destroyed. 

The sun renews the ozone and natural chemicals in our atmosphere destroy it. It is a complex natural cycle.

In 1985, scientists discovered significant ozone layer depletion over Antarctica. The whole world was shocked at this news. Here are some facts about the Ozone Layer Depletion:

  • The culprit was CFC – chlorofluorocarbon and HCFC – hydro chlorofluorocarbon which are also greenhouse gases.
  • CFC was being used in refrigerants and cooling units, fire extinguishers and aerosols.
  • The “hole’ that was discovered in Antarctica was over 29 million square kilometers – larger than Russia and Canada combined!
  • Exposure to higher amounts of UV radiation can cause skin cancer, eye diseases and weaken the immune system of humans.
  • Further depletion of the ozone layer can make the Earth barren.
  • Global Ozone is expected to revert to its 1980 thickness in the next 55 years.

A Global Effort

As early as 1978, the US banned the use of CFC propellants in spray cans. When the Antarctic hole was discovered in 1985, scientists more strongly tied CFC and HCFC as the cause of the depletion. 

In a great show of solidarity, the Montreal Protocol was signed by several countries in 1987 promising to limit the use of CFCs, HCFCs and other substances that are harmful to the ozone layer. 

Nearly 100 harmful substances were phased out and production and consumption of these substances went down by 98%. The treaty not only saved the ozone layer, it has delayed climate change.

Helping In Your Own Small Way

The 1985 discovery of the Antarctic hole was a wake-up call for all of us. It clearly shows that our
actions can and will affect our planet. There are many small ways in which you can help. 

  • Remember the 3Rs, Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. 
  • If you can walk or take the train or bus, please do so. This helps cut down on pollution caused by vehicle emissions.
  • Buy energy efficient household appliances. 
  • Conserve energy!
  • Use only household products that are Eco-Friendly.
  • Stop using Pesticides.
  • Plant more trees.

Humanity once responded to the ozone layer crisis. We don’t need another crisis to take action; we can do our share now and prevent a crisis from happening again.

References:

  1. Environmental and Protection Agency: Ozone Layer Protection
  2. Environmental Protection Agency –Achievements in Stratospheric Ozone Protection, Progress Report
  3. UN News Center – Global Efforts Halt Depletion of Life-Saving Ozone Layer

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