Ozone Depletion

Mahatma Gandhi said,’ Nature can provide for man’s need, but not for his greed’, perhaps was irrelevant when he said it, but has invaluable relevance today. The world today is stormed with self-inflicted environmental problems. From the emissions of the major industries to a mere starting of a car, the environment is degraded inch by inch.

According to a survey, 80% of the people are aware of the environmental problems and out of them only 10% have taken initiatives individually to conserve the environment. The lack of awareness or merely the indifference on the people’s side, will lead to a next level of degradation, the first level being selfishly taking advantage of the natural resources and degrading it to a level where the environment loses its ability to self heal.

Environment has been affected in various forms by the mankind in the past centuries. The harshest consequence of harming the environment has been that of the ozone layer depletion.

The ozone layer is essential to life on earth, as it absorbs harmful ultraviolet-B radiation from the sun. In recent years the thickness of this layer has been decreasing, leading in extreme cases to holes in the layer. Measurements carried out in the Antarctic have shown that at certain times, more than 95% of the ozone concentrations found at altitudes of between 15 and 20 km and more than 50% of total ozone are destroyed, with reductions being most pronounced during winter and in early spring. Natural phenomena, such as sun-spots and stratospheric winds, also decrease stratospheric ozone levels, but typically not by more than 1-2%.

The distribution of ozone in the stratosphere is a function of altitude, latitude and season. It is determined by photochemical and transport processes. The ozone layer is located between 10 and 50 km above the Earth’s surface and contains 90% of all stratospheric ozone.

The most common cited reason for the ozone layer depletion is the use of a chemical known as Chloro-Flouro-Carbon (CFC). The chemical is mostly found in perfumes and refrigerators. This chemical is banned in most foreign countries, yet in India and China, it is still used extensively.

The reason for Chinese goods being termed as ‘intoxicant’ is because of their use of banned chemicals in the goods they produce. Harmful substances like Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) which has been long banned by most countries, is still being used in India as a pesticide.

They reason why harmful chemicals are still used in most underdeveloped countries like India and China are that these chemicals are easily available and are cheap. They act like a catalyst while the goods are produced, and work with immediate effect. Unfortunately, most of the eco-friendly substances are contrary of this. They are not as profitable in the short run and in the long run they are least harmful to the environment. The developing countries are just driven by profit motives and for them environmental issues invariably take a back seat.

Ozone layer depletion is presently the talk amongst most of the environmentalists. Technologies better the living standards, however if the people start suffering from environmental related issues, then such development is futile. There is observed a severe depletion of ozone in a region of the ozone layer, particularly over Antarctica and over the Arctic. The depletion is caused by the destruction of ozone by CFCs and by other compounds, such as carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and carbon tetrafluoride (CF4). Although the full effect of increased ozone depletion is not yet known, the amount of ultraviolet radiation the Earth receives is greatly increased by ozone depletion, creating a heightened risk of skin cancers and likely contributing to global warming.

The environment and mankind were supposed to live with each other, a form of mutual dependence. However, unfairly it has been one sided since centuries. The Nature has a self healing property, but that also works only up to an extent. The present form of exploitation will make the property invalid. The damage has already been done and the Nature’s replies we can see inform of the Tsunamis, cyclones and erratic whether changes. We should now reduce the further damage since preventing is not an option.

The countries should religiously ban all forms of toxic chemicals which have adverse affect on the environment. The alternate substances should be less expensive and viable for the developing nations.

Individually as well we can start eco-drives wherein trees are planted in and around the city. People are made aware of the environmental issues. Saying no to harmful substances by the consumers will limit its production majorly, the perfumes which have CFC as an ingredient should be refused by the consumers.

Thus older generation of mankind involved itself with finding the mysteries of Nature and exploiting it. Now after having known the repercussions of the same the new generation has to cut down upon it and preserve the environment for themselves as well as their future generations.

Garvita Khybri

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