Ozone Devastation | Teen Ink

Ozone Devastation

May 23, 2008
By Anonymous

What kills that layer of ozone, which lays 12 to 18 miles above sea level? Sadly, the main culprits are CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons). This extremely helpful, manmade chemical destroys a noticeable amount of the Ozone Layer. However, CFC’s have many helpful applications. A slight look at how the ozone layer functions, depletes, and how CFC’s work all help to give a picture of what really goes on in ozone destruction.

Acting as a big, atmospheric blanket, the ozone layer destroys ultra-violet rays from the sun. Ozone is naturally extremely toxic to living organisms, so its ideal location of about fifteen miles above sea-level does not present a problem to human life. In the actual process of destroying ultra-violet rays, ozone literally kills itself by absorbing the potentially dangerous energy that fuels the light ray. The energy is absorbed by the ozone instead of a living organism on earth. This makes it so harmful, ultra-violet rays cannot reach Earth’s surface. Eventually, it would seem as if the ozone would run-out, but it actually is naturally regenerated by the earth itself through simple chemical reactions, like lightning. Interesting enough, the amount of ozone in the ozone layer can fluctuate up or down by 50%, depending on the amount of its natural losses and gains.

Now, CFC’s are manmade chemicals that destroy the ozone layer. CFC’s cannot just float up 15 miles to the ozone—they get taken up there. This can only be accomplished under the right conditions. A CFC will get frozen into a water droplet and then—by extremely strong winter winds—be blown up into the ozone layer. Once up there the CFC’s destroy an amount of ozone. The only areas where ideal winds can develop to regularly carry CFC’s up to the ozone are the north and south poles, primarily the South Pole. Even though some CFC’s do make it up to the ozone, the amount of ozone destroyed at the most is 5% according to the best scientific guesses. Compared to the 50% naturally destroyed by the sun, this amount of manmade damage is insignificant, and is naturally replaced by the earth. Further more, the CFC damage is almost entirely concentrated around the frigid South Pole where no human beings live, and even then the damage can only be done during winter.

CFC’s have an incredible amount of uses. They are considered the most miraculous fire-fighting agent by professional firefighters. Totally harmless to living organisms, doctors use CFC’s to safely and inexpensively sterilize surgical equipment to prevent infection. CFC’s even help overwhelmingly when used in the preserving and distribution of food all over the world. Without CFC’s, several 3rd world countries would be unable to cope with starvation, infection, and food-borne diseases.

After a slight look at CFC’s, the ozone layer and how the two interact shows the dangers that the ozone layer is really in. Sure, the ozone gets partially depleted from CFC’s, but in no-way significantly, very much the opposite. The importance of the ozone is immense. Without CFC’s the world would lose several million people, while the expense of CFC’s is an annually, naturally replaced 5% of the ozone layer. We should carefully consider the earth, but at the same time we need to make sure the facts are not blown out of proportion.
Works Cited
High school chemistry classes and teachers,
Wile, Dr. Jay L., Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 2nd Edition, pp. 247-276

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