The ozone layer is a delicate shield of gas in the Earth’s stratosphere that protects our planet from the harmful ultraviolet radiation of the Sun.
In 1974, two chemists at the University of California, Sherwood Rowland and Mairio Molina, published an article stating detailed threats to the ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases. They stated that as soon as the CFC gases reach the stratosphere layer of the earth’s atmosphere, the sun’s ultraviolet rays break the gases down into chlorine molecule.
Further, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in their studies concluded that one atom of chlorine can destroy more than one hundred thousand ozone molecules.
In 1985, a team of English scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica that was later concluded as the result of the use of CFCs. The hole is an area of the ozone layer where ozone particles are present in less number, that allows more than usual ultraviolet radiations to pass through it.
The Sun’s radiations consist of two types of harmful ultraviolet rays, one being the Ultraviolet A (UVA) and the second one is the Ultraviolet B (UVB). The UVA reaches deep into the dermis of the human body, which is the thickest layer of the skin and UVB usually burns the initial layers of the skin.
The Atmospheric Ozone, also known as the ‘good ozone’, exists about 15 to 30 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and protects us from UVA and UVB. Exposure to UVB radiation contributes to an increased risk of cataract and skin cancer and is also a huge risk to marine life and plants.
The Status of Ozone Layer today
The study and reports in 1974 and 1985 contributed to the drafting of the Montreal Protocol on The Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987. All the 197 member countries of the United Nations signed the agreement. According to the protocol, the CFC should not be used in any work or object.
More than 30 years later, NASA discovered the first direct proof of the recovery of ozone in the Antarctic Ozone. And, it was found that ozone depletion has fallen down about 20% in the region after the Montreal Protocol.
Although these were good statistics, still they do not indicate the assurance for the recovery of the ozone layer. A study in 2018 specified that the ozone layer in the lower stratosphere has dropped since 1998, which indicated the violations of the Montreal Protocol.
The World still is not very sure about the emission of gases and what gases could result in the depletion of the ozone layer. The substitute for CFCs, and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), do not deplete the layer but it is greenhouse gas that traps heat, contributing to climate change.
The use of HFCs and its impact on climate change concluded in the passage of another amendment, the Kigali Amendment in 2016. The amendment gained practical functioning in January 2019, and its goal is to limit or stop the use of HFC gases by more than 80 percent in the next three decades.
The scientists and companies are working on climate-friendly alternatives for usage. They are trying to create new coolants or technologies that limit the use of chemicals that harm the ozone layer.
International Day for the Prevention of Ozone Layer
The World Ozone Day on September 16, is a celebration of the almost recovered ozone layer. It signifies that united decisions and actions are the only way to solve a global crisis.
This year the world celebrates the 35 long and successful years of global ozone layer protection.
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, has put on another major global crisis on the world, and today’s message of unity can solve it all, indicates that once again it is only a united world that can solve a problem like this.
” ‘Ozone for life’, reminds us that ozone is crucial for life on Earth and we must continue to protect the ozone layer for future generations,” stated the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Life on Earth without the sun would not be possible, but the full exposure from the sun would be catastrophic too. The only thing that protects us from burning out is the ozone layer that beautifully refines the UV rays coming from the sun. Thus, granting life a sufficient amount of sunlight, to bloom amazingly.
So, Ozone for life, Indeed.