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The ozone layer is made up of gases that lie between 15 to 30 kilometers above the earth. The main function of this layer of gases is to protect all the living and non-living things from harmful radiation from the sun. It is made up of three molecules of oxygen that are always quickly forming and breaking down due to their high reactivity (Lerner and Lerner 345).
Exposing this layer to chlorofluorocarbons makes it to quickly deteriorate. The reason for this is the reaction between the specific components of the chlorofluorocarbons, mainly chlorine and bromine, and oxygen. Pollution is the main reason for the increasing amount of chlorofluorocarbons in the stratosphere. Mainly, they come from aerosols that many industrialized countries are fond of using and from industrial effluents released into the air by manufacturing companies (Duden 253).
The moment chlorofluorocarbons reach the upper region of the atmosphere, they meet very strong ultraviolet rays from the sun. These rays make them disintegrate into their components. Chlorine is one of the main components. It reacts with the molecules of oxygen that form the ozone layer. This leaves the ozone layer depleted. Many parts of the world have had their ozone layer depleted to different percentages depending on the temperatures in those regions and the amount of pollution they experience.
For example, the amount of depletion in the Antarctic region is greater than that in many other regions. This is brought about by the low temperatures in this region, which hasten the conversion of chlorofluorocarbons to chlorine. According to the United States of America Environmental Protection Agency, one chlorine molecule can demolish approximately a hundred thousand molecules of the ozone gas (Gillespie 35).
There is a very large amount of chlorine in the atmosphere. The bulk of this substance was deposited by industrialized countries, which are mostly found in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet. They include America and parts of Europe (Lerner and Pierre 112). Despite these countries having later abolished the use of chlorofluorocarbons around 1996, the rate of reduction in the composition of CFCs in the atmosphere is still not enough to guarantee safety from the effects of ozone depletion. Research shows that it will take more than 50 years to get rid of all the CFCs in the atmosphere (Galashev 212).
However, I feel that governments in many countries around the world are doing very little about this situation. They know so much about the implications of CFCs on the environment but do not take necessary actions towards alleviating these consequences. Many of the leaders in these countries simply talk about this problem and what they are supposed to do but rarely do they act on it.
The best example of countries that simply talk about this issue without acting is Kenya. I have a friend who comes from this country, which is located to the east of Africa. He tells me that many of their industries simply release their fumes into the air without thinking of ensuring that they are well treated before they are released into the air. I have also read many books about Nigeria. Nigerians also do not work on their fumes before releasing them into the atmosphere (Crutzen 98).
At this point, I can comfortably conclude that most of the developing countries in the world have not yet known how to treat their fumes before allowing them into the atmosphere, and this is the main cause of ozone depletion. It is also a very common practice for polythene bags and other plastics to be burnt as a way of disposing of them. Such activities mostly happen in many parts of Africa due to the lack of sensitization of citizens. This would not happen if everybody knew the impact of such actions on the environment.
In developed countries, industrial fumes are not a major problem since there are deliberate efforts to reduce the number of fumes in the atmosphere. The main contributors to CFCs are aerosols (Hand 56). Many citizens in these countries are used to sprays meant for their bodies and for fresh air in their houses and toilets. These aerosols contain CFCs, which find their way into the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, they disintegrate into chlorine and other components. The chlorine, as already discussed, combines with the oxygen in the ozone layer, ripping it off in the process.
In a nutshell, governments and other stakeholders should take a hands-on approach in ensuring that the ozone layer is not depleted. Apart from just talking about how to prevent its occurrence, they should come up with teams that ensure that industries do not release their fumes into the atmosphere without ensuring that all harmful elements are eliminated from them. In addition, they should ban the use of plastic bags and containers and advise people to use carton boxes and metallic containers in their place. The use of aerosols should also be banned in countries that commonly use them. Such efforts will ensure that the future generation is protected from direct exposure to ultraviolet rays and changes in weather patterns.
Crutzen, Paul. Stratospheric Ozone Depletion and climate Change. RSC Publishing, 2012.
Hand, Eric. “Ozone Layer on the Mend, Thanks to Chemical Ban.” Science, vol. 35, no. 2, 2016, pp. 56- 58.
Galashev, Alexander Y. Climatic Effects Created by Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases. 1st ed., Nova Science Publishers, 2010.
Gillespie, Alexander. Climate Change, Ozone Depletion and Air Pollution. 1st ed., M. Nijhoff, 2006.
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Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth and Chiara, Pierre. Climate Change. 1st ed., Greenhaven Press, 2009.
Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth and K. Lee Lerner. Climate Change. 1st ed., Cengage Learning, 2008.