Depletion of ozone layer is the slow eradication of the ozone layer caused by the gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. The purpose of the ozone layer is to cushion the earth from the dangerous ultra violet rays of the sun thus it reflects back these rays. Were it not for this layer the earth could not be able to support any life (Hussen 128).
The ozone layer has its own mechanism of constructing and reconstruction which aides the process of sealing any openings on its surface. However there are some toxic substances that are capable of destroying the ozone layer permanently.
Dobson argues that these toxins contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Bromofluorocarbons (BFCs) which attach themselves to the ozone layer. They then split the molecules of the ozone layer and because they are permanently attached to the ozone layer they hinder the process of merging the split molecules thus the damage is cannot be repaired (1296).
That’s why products that contain CFCs have been banned in most countries. The ozone layer lies within the stratosphere which is a thin layer on the exterior of earth surface. Hussein asserts that since ozone layer acts as a barrier between the surface of the earth and the ultra violet radiations from the sun, any erosion of this layer will allow the ultra violet radiations to affect living creatures directly hence there would be no life on earth (128).
The stratosphere is the most prone area to depletion. The intensity of depletion is influenced by temperatures hence areas that have very low temperatures experience the highest intensity of depletion compared to areas that have high temperatures. CFCs were meant to be employed as a cooling agent in refrigeration.
This explains why developed countries are recycling old refrigerators because if they are not disposed properly they could emit these chemicals (Callan & Thomas 239). When chlorofluorocarbons arrive at the atmosphere they are dismantled to extract chlorine atoms which are then used to speed up the process of disintegrating the large bulks of ozone into small units. Research has found that CFCs can remain in the atmosphere for a whole century (National Geographic 1).
Ozone at the Antarctic has reduced in the recent past because the cold climates in that region facilitate depletion. This depletion is further promoted by the presence of Polar Stratospheric clouds when there is winter. The PSCs creates a platform where the depletion of ozone takes place (Callan & Thomas 240).
During summer the sun plays a very important role in avoiding the depletion of the ozone layer. The sun rays heat the PSCs to convert them into liquid form. This process disintegrates the atoms of chlorine that were confined in these clouds thereby hindering the depletion of ozone (National Geographic 1).
The reduction in the density of ozone layer means that man and other creations will be exposed to the ultra violet radiations from the sun. These radiations increase the chances of contracting skin cancer. Scientists have also found that exposure ultra violet radiations may cause cortical cataracts which if not treated can lead to loss of eye sight (Callan & Thomas 10).
According to Fears et al., when ozone is on the ground level its considered to be a health hazard to people because it is very toxic. This ozone is enhanced by burning of gases (63). Some countries united in the recent past to enact a policy that would declare the use of CFCs in aerosol spray cans illegal. This policy was objected by Europe. Initially developed countries were reluctant to implement this policy. The major stumbling block was politics.
As time moved by more nations joined the campaign against the use of CFCs. In 1983 forty three nations came together in support of the Montreal protocol which was meant to further limit the use of CFCs (Hussen 132). This positive response was enhanced by studies on the Antarctic which indicated that depletion of ozone was brought by long term use of CFCs.
In the year 1992 the members who had enacted the Montreal protocol pushed for more reforms that saw the use of CFCs and halogens completely eliminated out with the exemption of small amounts that were to be used in the treatment of asthma. The elimination was supposed to be temporary but when members assembled again in 1992 they postponed the elimination date (Hussen 133).
Perhaps the main reason that caused members to be reluctant in implementing the Montreal protocol was the fact that the sudden elimination of CFCs would ground their respective country’s industries that relied on these elements in their commercial productions. They wanted to buy more time for their countries to prepare organizations that were heavily dependent on CFCs.
According to DeCanio and Norman, Methyl Bromide was also included among the substances that facilitate ozone depletion. The Montreal protocol extended the period that elimination was supposed to commence which led to more time being allowed to third world countries (378). This exemption was granted because third world countries could not afford the expertise and technology as well as money that was necessary for the implementation of this policy.
Manufacturers had to look for alternative substances that could be used instead of CFCs. In some countries CFCs were substituted with another variety of CFCs that was perceived to be less hazardous.
The Montreal protocol has shown significant decline in the depletion of ozone layer due to the controlled use of CFCs which in turn has shown the possibility of sealing the hole that was experienced in the Antarctic (Hussen 133). Thus, it is important for every nation to ensure that strategies such as prevention of air pollution are put in place to reduce the depletion of the ozone layer
Callan, Scott and Janet Thomas. Environmental Economics & Management: theory, policy, and applications. 4th ed. Canada: Thomson South-Western, 2007. Print.
DeCanio, Stephene and Catherine Norman.”Economics of the ‘Critical Use’ of Methyl Bromide under the Montreal Protocol”. Contemporary Economic Policy 23 (3):376-393. July 2005.
Dobson, Roger.”Ozone depletion will bring rise in the number of cataracts.” BMJ 331(7528):1292. 2005.
Fears, Thomas et al.”Average midrange Ultraviolet radiation flux and time outdoors predict melanoma risk.” Cancer Research.62 (14):3992-6. July 2002
Hussen, Ahmed. Principles of Environmental Economics. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print
National Geographic. Ozone Depletion – Losing Earth’s Protective Layer. 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2010.