Describes In Simple Terms The Problems Facing The Ozone Layer, Including The Problem Of Cpc's And The Emergence Of A "Hole" Includes Bibliography

2318 words - 10 pages

Ozone, a gas very similar to oxygen, can both help and harm humans, yet a problem has recently risen as levels of "good" ozone is being depleted. However, the source of this depletion created a big controversy when it was discovered, and, although it is now rarely mentioned, a dispute still exists. The problem arises that not all scientists, and other people for that matter, believe that chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) are enhancing the problem, which is the commonly accepted theory. Yet before the problem can be understood the composition of the ozone layer must be discussed.While ozone is a gas made of the same atom as oxygen, it has a different number of these atoms, altering its physical ...view middle of the document...

Rays such as these can cause skin cancer in humans, can harm animals, and can kill creatures in the ocean that are vital in the food chain. The ozone layer keeps these rays from ever coming close to the earth, making life possible.While all scientists agree that both harmful and helpful ozone exist, the matter of a "hole" in this protective layer tends to be highly disputed. To understand where their argument originates, one must first have some knowledge of the history of the problem. In 1970, chemist Harold Johnston made a prediction that exhaust from supersonic jet fighters, full of nitrogen, could be thinning the ozone layer. Later, in 1974, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland jointly published an article in which they hypothesized that CFC's were even more damaging to the ozone layer than nitrogen oxides. Shortly after, a "hole" was discovered in the ozone layer above the South Pole. Through two expeditions to Antarctica in the late 1980s, it was determined that the chlorine atom in the CFC molecule was what was causing the problem.An agreement was made in 1987 known as the Montreal Protocols. In this, fifty-three industrial nations approved to eliminate the use of CFC's and other comparable chemicals, known as Halons, by the year 2000. In 1990, the pact was strengthened when it was decided that other chemicals such as methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, which are chlorine-based, would also be eliminated.Three opinions on the causes of the hole in the ozone layer, and if there is indeed a hole, tend to be debated. The primary opinion is that the hole does exist and that CFC's and other such chemicals cause it. When the scientists who take this side of the argument were searching for what could be creating this problem, they immediately determined that the substance destroying it must be something fairly new. The chemicals found in air pollution were carefully studied and it was determined that some of these chemicals help UV rays destroy ozone much faster. Though the breaking-down of ozone by UV rays is a natural process, it was being accelerated to the point that it began to ruin the balance in the environment.Chlorofluorocarbons were the primary chemical that scientists found to aid UV rays. These chemicals began to be produced in the early 1930s and have been frequently used in aerosol cans, as cooling liquids in refrigerators and air-conditioners, for making the bubbles in foam, and in making electrical components. CFC's are both nontoxic and cheap to produce, seemingly an ideal compound. However, they begin to create a problem when they release their chlorine atoms. This process occurs as they reach the stratosphere, which is the only place this reaction can take place, and they tend to attack ozone molecules.A second belief, which is not as popular as the previously mentioned, is that CFC's play a very small role in ozone layer depletion, and that it is rather a natural process, which does not impose a threat to society. A huge...

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