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Effects of Greenhouse Gases and Depletion of Ozone

2578 words (10 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

18/05/20 Environmental Studies Reference this

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 Depletion of the ozone layer in our atmosphere is primarily attributed to the increase of emissions outputted that are made up of toxic and dangerous chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons, chloroform and other bromine-containing emissions. Our greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere play a major part in the deterioration of the ozone layer because these chemicals are trapped in the atmosphere, and our human interaction is a catalyst for the problem. As ozone controls the increases and decreases of temperature in the atmosphere of earth, the depletion of the ozone layer impacts our climate and its changes we have seen over recent years.  As greenhouse gases are emitted and increase, the ozone layer decreases, making planet earth more vulnerable to changes in climate, temperature and the introduction of more UV rays from the sun. Ozone depletion is a real concern and while efforts to help have been successful in some cases, the problem is far from over.

Recently, for the use of universities and scholars, research has been done to study the knowledge deficits and the misconceptions involving environmental issues and the depletion of the ozone layer. The data from this survey showed there was a near consensus familiarity with what greenhouse gases were, but a lack of knowledge of how it is applied to the issue at hand. One major issue with the findings was the misconception that greenhouse gases followed the depletion of the ozone layer and were a creation of it, while it is actually a cause of it. On the flip side, participants were well-informed that the ozone layer was an important part of our atmosphere, and that it was a shield from the sun, but that it was being weakened by chemicals and emissions. This research shows us there is still a disconnect with the facts, and that this was an issue on top of the depletion of the ozone. It is important people are well-informed and knowledgeable of our environment, in order to see the severity of the issue and get involved. The results of these findings could indicate that there’s a plateau of the learning and information on this issue within the public. It’s important this is combatted as a lack of understanding could lead to further harm to earth. 

Global warming is no new topic of discussion and concern for our world. Scientists have been studying and predicting the climate change of earth for decades now. A study conducted by JB Kerr and C.T. McElroy in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s showed that the depletion of the ozone layer and an increase in UVB lighting was already on the rise. “Spectral measurements of ultraviolet-B radiation made in Toronto since 1989 indicate that the intensity of the light at wavelengths near 300 nanometers has increased by 35 percent per year in the winter and 7 percent per year in the summer. The wavelength dependence of these trends indicates that the increase is caused by the downward trend in total ozone that was measured in Toronto during the same period. The trend at wavelengths between 320 and 325 nanometers is essentially zero.,” (Kerr/McElroy, 1). In other words, ozone depletion is on the downward trend and it has sustained this for decades. Slowly but surely, the increase in UV-B light that reaches earth’s surface is harmful for the planet and its inhabitants. The study was conducted in a large urban center where they could test where human interference and interaction with the environment could occur.

In Joanna Foster’s article for the New York Times, she explains that not only is the ozone depletion a problem in terms of climate change, but even the current plans to help defeat this problem would not go away for years to come if we were able to stop our faults as guests of this planet. In addition, what most people of earth do not understand or know is that it’s not just our air, but our ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide emissions, making the task at hand much more difficult than people think. In addition to just the lack of absorption of temperatures in the atmosphere, the change in ozone levels also plays a role in the life of our oceans. According to Dr. Darryn Waugh, “The water from deep in the ocean may not have seen the surface for hundreds of years,” Dr. Waugh said. “This ‘old’ water is very carbon-rich, from dead organic matter that sinks to the bottom of the ocean.”. Because of this, the ocean is abnormally high in carbon dioxide and can increase its acidity. The health of our oceans are important and it is not just our air and atmosphere that is severely affected by the depletion of ozone and increase in greenhouse gases.

Research done by Polly Ghazi of the World Resource Institute’s investigated the link between the Greenhouse Effect and depletions of the ozone layer. The study found that one of the main enemies of the ozone layer, chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, are said to contribute and emit nearly 15% of the increase in total global warming yearly. In other words, each year that we see an increase in the effects of global warming, 15% of that increase is down to this single chemical, that can be found in many places. Other greenhouse gases also contribute, while personal emissions from the people make up a large portion. The general warming and cooling of earth’s planet is well known, but the steady increase in temperatures makes for a change in people’s day to day lifestyle. There is now an increase in the use of air conditioning, which needs the chemical CFC to work. There is a dangerous cycle in place in which the product we need to keep cool, emits pollutants that increase the temperature in the atmosphere. In addition to AC, electricity usage has increased, which is powered by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are also a major deterrent of a healthy atmosphere and enable global warming.While the depletion of the ozone layer does not directly lead to climate change and global warming, the combination of the increase in greenhouse gases and human pollution is the catalyst for climate change.

The current rate of ozone depletion taking place in atmosphere, specifically in the stratosphere, and the increasing amount of greenhouse gases are becoming more and more alarming to not only scientists but to people in power who can really make a difference and facilitate change. The more this issue grows, the more we are becoming aware that both ozone levels and greenhouse gases are not only interrelated, but have a massive effect on our climate, which are commonly reported on. The evidence and examples we see in the news all display the problem that equates to rapid growing climate effects that need to be solved root and stem.

The release of greenhouse gases and the depletion of our ozone layer is a serious issue that is discussed in education, but is rarely enacted upon. For the standard citizen, helping the environment has always been the same. Most people donate their time by picking up pollution and trash or recycling. Others have taken the next step and converted to using electric cars rather than gas powered, emission-emitting vehicles that we commonly see. However, more action is needed and specifically more action aimed at the atmosphere.

As alluded to before, emissions into the atmosphere and air are the cause for our concern with ozone depletion. There are many ways for everyone to get involved and help the cause. According to the EPA, the use of gas-powered vehicles like cars, trucks and motorcycles are accountable for at least 50% of the dangerous emissions that are pumped into our atmosphere. When these emissions are stuck, they break down our protective ozone layer. The world needs to come together and one by one be a part of change to save the atmosphere. Many have taken the initiative over the past twenty years, purchasing “hybrid” or electric cars. Many people are familiar with the Toyota Prius, which really started the trend of people using more fuel-efficient vehicles. In more recent years, people have turned to Tesla, which produces completely electric vehicles. Studies have shown that the production and life use of an electric vehicle produces 50% less emissions and carbon dioxide than the production and use of a standard gas powered car. In addition, the overall emissions for an electric car are 73% less in Canada. It’s no secret that an electric car, or even a hybrid at least, makes a big difference. This is one way you can support and help the cause for preserving our atmosphere’s health.

 However, there are several easier ways to help the health of our atmosphere. One major way you can help, that is often not thought of is the type of refrigerators you use in your houses and apartments. Many refrigerators use CFCs or Chlorofluorocarbons as the makeup of the refrigerant in the appliance. CFCs are a main enemy of the ozone layer and a massive reason for its deterioration. When shopping for house appliances, check for its environmental output. Each purchase from each person can add up to a huge help.

 In addition, there are other ways around the house that can help preserve the ozone and cut down on citizen emission output. The use of cleaning products and sprays often add to the chemicals released into the air. Cutting down on the use of products containing CFCs will create a healthier household. In the yard, using more environmentally-friendly methods for maintaining your garden and yard are very important. With direct release and contact into the atmosphere, using less dangerous pesticides, and being more conservative with how much you use a gas powered lawn mower can help.

 There is no overnight fix for the damage that has been done to the ozone layer. The preservation and healing of the atmosphere not only takes change, but it takes a worldwide collective effort. Each method for helping can seem miniscule, but the efforts add up as we go and prove to be helpful.

 In addition to personal ways we can all chip in and help, we the people can get together and join groups and organizations to help increase our efforts and the fight for our environments health. A group like 350.org is a great nonprofit organization that focuses on creating a low-carbon economy, limiting our personal emissions, and pleading to governments worldwide to increase their efforts towards a cleaner environment and atmosphere. 350.org is fantastic at putting people all over the world in touch with their local groups to help grow efforts. The company has connected people from Cincinnati to Papua New Guinea. The great thing about this organization is while it is under one umbrella of the world, it is made up of our collective communities and each unique group. This group embraces unique and new experiments into finding not only ways to create safer and renewable energy, or cut down on emissions, but also on how to engage people. Simply reading what they have to say, and getting your name out there, can transition into a healthy relationship with helping your environment, and helping the world.

 Having discussed how the people can help this dire issue, it’s important that we are open and talk about what deters many people from actually providing help and taking action. As technology advances and we become more and modernized, there is a growing disconnect with the environment, a more immediate gratification sense of living, and a busier lifestyle instilled into people. According to the US Government Census in 2015, 62.7% of the United States’ population lives within cities. This tells us that many people are not in immediate contact with our nature, leading to larger deficit in knowledge and inevitably care for our lands. In addition to this, with many people living in cities, there is a larger portion of the population devoted towards their work and success, which means there is less time to pay towards the preservation of the world we live in. This is something we are all victim to, and something we need to fight as a group, and make our efforts toward helping. It is important to adopt these solutions to this situation because any and all efforts help, and do not go unnoticed when we work together as a group. Our world and nation have improved upon this in recent years with more environmentally-safe practices being adopted more frequently, but it’s important we do not get complacent or settle, and that we push on, move forward make our efforts the norm, and not just help.

 The depletion of the ozone layer is a serious issue that at face value can feel like one we are disconnected with. However, our help is needed and can go a much longer way than people think. The atmosphere may be almost invisible, but the side effects of our world’s negative output are putting its own atmospheric footprint for us to see, and it’s not something we want to see grow.

References

  • Berndt, C. (2017, July 4). A Tesla is greener than you think and getting greener – a look at manufacturing. Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-greener-think-getting-greener-look-manufacturing/
  • Dove, J. (1996). Student Teacher Understanding of the Greenhouse Effect, Ozone Layer Depletion and Acid Rain. Environmental Education Research, 2, 89-100. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/1350462960020108
  • Foster, J. M. (n.d.). The Enduring Effects of Ozone Depletion. The New York Times. Retrieved February 1, 2013, from https://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/from-ozone-depletion-enduring-effects/
  • Ghazi, P. (2019). Links Between Ozone Depletion and the Greenhouse Effect. Environmental Conservation, 46(2), 364. Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S0376892900035487.
  • Hassell, B. (2001, June 17). Refrigerator disposal releases ozone-depleting chemicals. Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-06/ACS-Rdro-1706101.php
  • Hyer, V. (2015, March 4). U.S. Cities are Home to 62.7 Percent of the U.S. Population, but Comprise Just 3.5 Percent of Land Area. Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-33.html
  • Kerr, J., & McElroy, C. (1993). Evidence For Large Upward Trend of Ultraviolet-B Radiation Linked to Ozone Depletion. Science, 262, 1032-1034. Retrieved June 09, 2019, from http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/pubhealth/p6300/client_edit/pdfs/brenner2.pdf
  • Ozone Layer Protection. (2019). Environmental Protection Department, The Government of Hong Kong. Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/ozone_layer_protection/wn6_info_olp_ue_c.html#T10.
  • Protecting The Ozone Layer. (2011). Austrailian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities,1-7. Retrieved July 6, 2019, from https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/f0506eeb-72df-42d5-967c-08aadff97062/files/25anniversary-ozone-booklet.pdf.
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