Asked by robert to Anna, Daniel, Denise, Jesse, Rehemat on 24 Jun 2014.
Keywords: consequence, ozone layer
The ozone layer in the atmosphere is very important for life on the surface of Earth. Ozone blocks most of the ultraviolet rays emitted from the Sun that reach the Earth. Ultraviolet radiation destroys cell tissues in organisms, so we would not have life as we know it on the surface of the continents and shallow waters if we did not have the ozone layer. Even with the ozone layer, we need to protect ourselves from harmful ultraviolet rays, using sunblock and clothing. Many living organisms on Earth evolved about 500 million years ago, when the ozone layer was established in the atmosphere and it was safer to be exposed in shallow waters and in the continents.
In parts close to the south pole, the ozone layer is thinner because of the concentrations of chemicals (human-made) that destroy ozone. That means that the ultraviolet radiation reaching Antarctica and parts of southern Australia and New Zealand is greater, and more protection is needed.
Hi Robert, indeed Daniel already gave a perfect answer to your question: the ozone layer acts as a barrier to ultraviolet rays from the Sun, and allow life on this planet (not only human life!) as we know it.
When few years ago the ozone “hole” (it was not actually a hole, but a thinning of the normal layer nearby the South Pole) was discovered, policy makers took action and banned the use of certain compounds (chlorofluorocarbon, known as CFC) in products. Although they were not the only cause in this thinning, I think this episode can be taken as a good example of an effective action.
If we want to change something in our behaviour, we as human, we are able to do it, using laws and informing the people on the consequences of their actions. It is a bit sad that we usually have strong reactions only in emergency situations: we should be able to change our environmental impact before it is too late.
That’s why I think it is very important for people like you and me to know as much as we can about our planet, to understand how we can take care of it.
Hi robert, I think Daniel and Anna have nailed it on the head. I don’t really know enough about this to add anymore!
Fingers crossed that it does not happen! 🙂 It is too important for life on Earth, though depletion of it is unfortunately occurring.
Even minor problems of ozone depletion can have major effects. Every time even a small amount of the ozone layer is lost, more ultraviolet light from the sun can reach the Earth.
Every time 1% of the ozone layer is depleted, 2% more UV-B is able to reach the surface of the planet. UV-B increase is one of the most harmful consequences of ozone depletion because it can cause skin cancer.
The increased cancer levels caused by exposure to this ultraviolet light could be enormous. There is research which estimates that 60 million Americans born by the year 2075 will get skin cancer because of ozone depletion. About one million of these people will die.
In addition to cancer, some research shows that a decreased ozone layer will increase rates of malaria and other infectious diseases. According to research, 17 million more cases of cataracts can also be expected.
The environment will also be negatively affected by ozone depletion. The life cycles of plants will change, disrupting the food chain. Effects on animals will also be severe, and are very difficult to foresee.
Oceans will be hit hard as well. The most basic microscopic organisms such as plankton may not be able to survive. If that happened, it would mean that all of the other animals that are above plankton in the food chain would also die out. Other ecosystems such as forests and deserts will also be harmed.
This is just talking about the ozone layer getting thinner. I am not sure how bad it would get if the ozone layer were completely gone. It sounds like it would be catastrophic. Would we all die? I can’t say, but we might suffer famine and shortened life spans at the least.
Hence, protect yourself from the sun! 🙂
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