September 16, 2018

On #WorldOzoneDay

You know how in those horror flicks, the protagonist thinks the monster is killed, the evil is destroyed, and just when he least expects it, it springs up, catching him unaware?

Well, a similar horror has been happening with our planet, the monster being replaced by an equally threatening but insidious hazard waiting to kill you slowly but surely...and then all at once!


Yes, I am talking about the present state of the Ozone layer, the umbrella to the earth. 
Lets dig a little deeper, shall we?

What is the Ozone layer?
The ozone layer is a region of gas, about 15-30 kms above the surface of the Earth, in the stratosphere that acts as a shield to the Earth's surface, thus protecting us from the harmful effects of the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

What causes the umbrella to tear? 
Causes of Ozone depletion
There are certain compounds called CFC's (Chloro Fluoro Carbons) that are responsible for the destruction of the Ozone layer. These are cheap, and non-inflammable compounds used mainly in refrigerators, air-conditioners, fast food packaging etc. These CFC's rise, and accumulate in the stratosphere where they are broken down by UV light, releasing free chlorine radicals which in turn destroy the Ozone layer.

In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed by leading industrial countries as an international agreement to ban the use of these CFC's.
However, some countries like China and N Korea increased the use of CFC's, thus exposing the Earth to the hazards of Ozone depletion.

Effects of Ozone depletion

  1. Climate changes: Accumulation of tropospheric ozone and acid aerosols worsens the air pollution and causes acid rain. As a consequence, crops and forests are damaged. Depletion of the ozone layer may also cause temperature alteration and bring about changes in climate.
  2. Depletion of the Ozone layer means that this will cause increased UV-B radiation to reach the Earth's surface. This can result in direct effects on human and other forms of life.
  3. In humans, it can cause suppression of immunity, thus leading to increase in infectious diseases and less effective vaccination.
  4. Direct exposure to UV radiation can cause skin burns in under ten minutes of exposure  and may also increase the incidence of skin cancers.
  5. Eye damage: Higher incidence of cataracts and other types of blindness.
  6. Ozone depletion may also cause damage to biological links in the food chain. There would be reduced crop yield and stunted plant growth, thus affecting the food chain. Also lesser ocean planktons may result in lower fish harvest.
How can we prevent Ozone depletion?
A few measures at the individual level can help in reducing the Ozone depletion and thus saving our planet. These include:
  • Reduction in consumption of electricity - Do not forget to switch off the electrical appliances in your house after use. Avoid unnecessary wastage of electricity during festivals, parties, social gatherings etc
  • Drive less : Car pooling or using public transport whenever possible will also help to reduce the pollution caused due to vehicular exhaust and thus reduce the emission of toxic pollutants in the air.
  • Do not buy aerosol products containing CFC's Check the labels of your hair sprays, and deodorants. Avoid buying products dispensed in pressurized cans to reduce the use of these CFC's.
  • Do not use fire extinguishers that have 'halon' as the active ingredient. This chemical is responsible for ozone depletion. 
  • Choose organic farming over the use of harmful pesticides. 
  • Plant more trees. Tree planting reduces the Ozone layer damage. Trees give out oxygen and sequester carbon, thereby helping to reduce the content of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases from the air, thus causing the climate to cool (the 'greenhouse effect').
Last but not the least, spread awareness about this global problem. Promote the 'Reduce, reuse, and recycle' mantra among all those you know. Saving the planet is a combined effort. Lets do this together.

Today, on World Ozone Day, lets work towards patching that hole in our umbrella. 


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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

My family every time say that I am wasting my time here
at web, but I know I am getting know-how everyday by reading such fastidious articles
or reviews.

Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old
daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
She never wants to go back! LoL I know this
is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

Aditi Kapur said...

Depletion of Ozone layer is causing drastic changes to our environment. Measures must be taken to save what is left for us.

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Pri said...

@ Anonymous
I am glad it's helping you :)
I strongly believe nothing (you learn) can be a waste of time. It always proves to be helpful at some point in life.

Pri said...

@ Aditi
Indeed! We all need to understand the urgency of the situation. Only then can we repair the hole in the umbrella!

Saumya Vishwas said...

Well said. We all need to do our bit. And along with all that you recommend we have to work towards controlling human population on Earth...that’s the one thing that’s stretching resources the most.

Pri said...

@ Saumya
Thanks Saumya.
And I totally agree with you on the population bit. That issue needs to be fixed first.