Essay, Research Paper: Ozone Layer


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Some scientists have proclaimed that the human race is slowly depleting the
layer of ozone which protects us from ultra violet light. In reality, humans
have very little control of the world in which we live. Scientific evidence has
shown that there is very little depletion in the ozone layer and the
contributions the human race makes towards this depletion is and always will be
insignificant compared to nature. The theories of the depletion and what it
would cause are flawed and contradictory. Where and when did this global killing
threat begin? It all began in the mid 1960's when the United States government
began pursuing super sonic transports. These would be planes which would travel
in the stratosphere, very close to the ozone layer. The first environmentalist
complaints were actually of the noise factor. These large planes would be
traveling in excess of the speed of sound. Subsequently there would be sonic
booms heard on the surface (Singer). The arguments fell on deaf ears in
Washington. The next objection came in the form of ozone depletion. A fleet of
over 500 of these planes would ultimately destroy the ozone. This would allow
more ultra violet radiation to fall to the earth and in turn skin cancer rates
would sky rocket. That was more than enough for the federal government to get
involved, they immediately canceled the project. At that time there was no study
done to investigate these claims, but there has been since. The initial
estimation was that a fleet of 500 SSTs would effectively reduce the ozone layer
seventy percent. In the 1970's that number fell to ten percent. With the
emergence of the Concorde, which is a SST, in the 1980's, studies were done that
show the emissions from these planes actually insulate the ozone layer and
prevent it from being depleted (Singer). There is irony in the fact that the
initial claim of ozone depletion, actually turned out to aid it. This isn't the
only piece of irony when it comes to the ozone. The second part of the initial
claim said that ultra violet light would fall on the earth and cancer rates
would go up. One could claim that melanoma rate have gone up within the past
years because melanoma rates have increased 800% since statistics were first
collected in 1935. Unfortunately there has been no corresponding change in the
ozone layer or the amount of UV light reaching the surface. To the contrary, UV
levels have been on the decline at every test center (Singer). Also the fact
that indoor workers have a twenty-one percent higher chance to get melanoma than
outdoor workers, further supports the fact that UV rays themselves do not induce
melanoma (Howard). Another piece of irony, the SSTs cause ozone depletion, which
in turn cause UV rays to increase. And UV rays equal cancer, right? Paragraph on
the current measurements of the ozone and what scientists believe cause the
changes in thickness. When SSTs were no longer an issue the scientific community
was still concerned about this claim of depleting the ozone layer. They began to
look at what else could cause this depletion and at this time compiled a list of
ozone gases. Ozone gases have now become a term associated with those awful
gases which destroy the human race's only protection from the sun and it's
deadly UV rays. What are these gases though? Where do they come from? The most
commonly referred to of gases are CFCs. These gases are Fluorocarbons. CFCs come
from commonly used items such as aerosol cans, refrigerators, and air
conditioners. Believers in the depletion theory believe that humans release
these gases and they go into the atmosphere and neutralize the chemicals that
hold the ozone together. Thus holes begin to emerge and in turn the whole world
is doomed. One study in 1959 stated that if the fluorocarbon industry continues
to grow at it's twenty-two percent rate between 1960 and 1972, then by 1995 the
ozone would be depleted by over forty percent (Ponte). Well the industry grew at
over twenty-two percent during those years and yet there hasn't been a forty
percent decrease in ozone. Not even a thirty, or even a fifteen and even ten is
too large. In actuality the measurements now show a six percent increase (Bidinotto).
Yes an increase! The other amazing fact is that in 1976 an Alaskan volcano
spewed 570 times the worlds CFC production (Begely). That means in a matter of
days this one volcano produced more CFCs than the human race has in the last 570
years. Some scientists argue that volcanoes can't actually propel these gases
far enough into the atmosphere to cause any damage. If this is truly the case,
how am I then supposed to believe that my little can of deodorant actually can?
In trying to defend their claim they actually disprove what it was they were
saying in the first place. The other major gas claimed to deplete the ozone
layer is chlorine. This claim is very easy to discredit. Chlorine gas weighs two
and a half times more than air. It would take tremendous amounts of force to put
it high enough into the air to effect the ozone (Singer). These facts, long
hidden from the public's eye, didn't discourage politicians from creating
regulations on CFCs. In 1978, the United states and other western nations,
unilaterally banned the use of CFCs in all aerosol products (Ponte). This didn't
last long though. The Japanese and the Europeans were not ready for this ban
yet, due to two main reasons. Number one was the great cost to replace CFCs in
all it's applications. The second was there was no replacement for CFCs in many
of it's applications. But times change and technology advances, and thus in the
early 1990's up sprung the Montreal Project (Howard). This was a multi-national
project to reduce the amount of CFCs used in the world. There was a 300 page
study done showing the negative effects of CFCs on our environment. This was a
much awaited study by the scientific community. Many scientists wanted to
embrace the cause, while others were ready to dispute it. After many of the
countries involved signed their name to the project the study was to be
released. Unfortunately after it's approval the study was amazingly lost. So the
first bit of irony in this case is the only scientists to read the study, were
the scientists that wrote it (Bidinotto). This didn't prevent the countries from
adopting this policy though. Now that the Montreal Project has been adopted and
set to begin in the year 2000, what does that mean? The first thing to look at
is the cost of replacing the CFCs. If the United States government would decide
to pay for the replacement of the CFCs in the United States, then this would be
the equivalent of doubling the federal deficit. Not only is it costly, but it is
also hazardous. The replacements for CFCs just happen to be toxic and corrosive
(Howard). This not being bad enough, they are also vastly inferior to CFCs
(Howard). Robert Watson, head of the ozone trends panel and a supporter of CFC
banning said, "Probably more people world wide would die from food as a
consequence of inadequate refrigeration than would die from the depleting
ozone". How can this even be considered. People are actually going to die
because of a lost, unproven study. The next effect the depleting ozone layer
will have is in aiding the green house effect. The green house effect says that
when there is a hole in the ozone layer, harmful UV rays are allowed onto the
surface of the earth. These UV rays would effect plants in a way that they end
up producing too much CO2. This CO2 then goes into the atmosphere and begins to
insulate and create ozone. This insulation causes the temperature of the earth
to increase (Howard). Sounds believable, almost. The problem in this claim is
once again in the claim. If the basis for the greenhouse effect is that there is
a hole in the ozone, then CO2 being released into the atmosphere and creating
ozone seems awful contradictory. Not only that, but the United States government
believes that a CO2 increase would actually increase agricultural productivity
(USA). This would mean an increase in CO2 absorbing plants, which in turn would
mean CO2 levels would fall back down. But you've heard about the ozone hole over
the antarctic right? If this hole does exist what does that mean? Nothing unless
you live in the antarctic. Scientists have proven there is a hole over the
antarctic, but they have also proven that this hole can not expand out of the
antarctic region, due to unique meteorological conditions(Bidinotto). But how
did the hole get there? The first thing you need to know is that when the first
reading of the ozone layer was taken, there was a hole (Singer). It hasn't
suddenly appeared due to human's inappropriate use of anything. Where scientists
claim holes occupy, there are natural factors which account for the holes
entirely (Lutgens). So it seems the so called hole is earth-made not man-made.
The scientific community very rarely agrees one hundred percent on anything, but
what are the percentages? The Gallup Poll of February 1992 polled climatologists
and atmospheric physicists and found that seventeen percent say they believe the
ozone hole is real while eighty three percent disagree (Howard).Dr. Derek
Barton, a Nobel prize winning chemist says there's so much propaganda, "I
don't believe it" (Begley). Dr, Fred Singer, the man who invented the
device to measure ozone, says the threat of depletion is vastly exaggerated
(Singer). Only seventeen percent of scientist believe in the green house theory
(Haimson). So the scientific community definitely does not see a ozone
depletion. The ozone depletion theory began in an attempt to prevent a fleet of
SSTs from being implemented. The theory has changed as the times and evidence
produce contradictions. The new theory has become as much political as it has
scientific. One of President Clinton's top advisors recently said, "We have
to follow this greenhouse effect issue even if it is wrong. We will be doing the
right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy" (Limbaugh). With
all the contradictory evidence how is it we still believe? Humans have a need to
know that they can effect the environment around them. Scientists and
politicians have fed off this and given us a sense of control. In reality though
we have no control over the ozone layer.
Begely, Sharon. "Is the Ozone Hole in Our Heads?" News Week October
11, 1993: pg. 71. Bindotto, Robert "Ozone and Objectivity" Online.
November 20, 1996 "Can We Delay a Greenhouse Warming?" United States
Environmental Protection Agency, 1983 Limbaugh, Rush. See I Told You So. New
York: Pocket Books a division of Simon and Schuster Inc. 1993 Lutgens, Fredrick
K. and Tarback, Edward J. The Atmosphere NJ Prentic-Hall, Inc. 1986 pg. 189-
195. Singer, Fred, S. Ph.D. "My Adventures in the Ozone Layer." Online
November 18,1997 Ponte, Lowell. The Cooling NJ Prentice- Hall Inc., 1976 Haimson,
Lepnie, Oppenheimer, Michael, and Wilcove, David "The Way Things Really
Are" Online.
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