It is a beautiful fall day, and I am sitting outside trying to absorb the last few rays of the sun before the weather changes. While outside, I can't help but wonder whether or not ten years from now I will be safe in the sun. I am wondering this because the ozone layer, which filters out harmful UV radiation before it reaches the earth, is rapidly depleting.
The ozone layer is a band of gas about 15 miles up in the sky which makes life on earth possible. Unfortunately, due to chemicals that we have put in the air, there are holes in it over Antarctica, and it has also depleted in parts of the Northern Hemisphere. This depletion is caused by Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that society has been emitting into the air for the past 60 years. CFCs are found mainly in refrigerators, air conditioners, and plastic foam.
If CFC emission doesn't end, all life on earth will be endangered. The food chain will be seriously affected. Small fish at the bottom of the food chain (known as phytoplankton) eat algae, which cannot grow if the sunlight isn't safe. Any animal on land will also be a target for UV rays. People won't be able to go out in the sun unless they are completely covered, because the sun's harmful radiation causes skin cancer.
Fortunately, some things have been done to slow down ozone depletion. International agreements have been made by some countries to phase out CFCs by the year 2000. There has also been a law passed that will make CFCs illegal in the United States in a few years. You can also make a difference. Write to your congressmen and let them know that CFCs should be phased out as soon as possible. Don't use an air conditioner unless it is CFC-free, and don't buy Styrofoam.
Ozone depletion is a global problem that we must do something about. It is not too late to save the ozone. Future generations should be able to sit outside and enjoy a beautiful, sunny day. ^
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.