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Ozone Layer Destruction


     During the 1980s, scientists began to find that human activity was having a detrimental effect on the global ozone layer, a region of the atmosphere that shields the Earth from the Sunís harmful ultraviolet rays. Without this gaseous layer, which is found at about 40 km (25 mi) above sea level, no life could survive on the planet. Studies showed the ozone layer was being damaged by the increasing use of industrial chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, compounds of fluorine) that are used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, cleaning solvents, packing materials, and aerosol sprays. Chlorine, a chemical by-product of CFCs, attacks ozone, which consists of three molecules of oxygen, by taking one molecule away to form chlorine monoxide. Chlorine monoxide then reacts with oxygen atoms to form oxygen molecules, releasing chlorine molecules that break up other molecules of ozone.

     It was initially thought that the ozone layer was being reduced gradually all over the globe. In 1985, however, further research revealed a growing ozone hole concentrated above Antarctica; 50 per cent or more of the ozone above this area of the Earth was being depleted seasonally (beginning each October). By late 2000 this hole had grown to 28.3 million sq km (11 million sq mi) in area. A thinning of the ozone layer is the key factor in the greenhouse effect, and exposes life on Earth to excessive ultraviolet radiation, which can increase skin cancer and cataracts, reduce immune-system responses, interfere with the photosynthetic process of plants, and affect the growth of oceanic phytoplankton. Because of the growing threat of these dangerous environmental effects, many nations are working towards eliminating the manufacture and use of CFCs. However, CFCs can remain in the atmosphere for more than 100 years, so ozone destruction will continue to pose a threat for decades to come.



Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

 ~Feodor Dostoyevsky