Ozone Depletion and Industrial Output
For years, we have heard about the ozone crisis: that because of industrialization and the lack of pollution-consciousness by our industries, governments, and academia, we have put so many environmentally harmful products into the atmosphere that our ozone – the good kind, the kind that protects us from harmful UV radiation – is becoming dangerously damaged. It is becoming thinner and developing holes, like the large hole over Antarctica. Predictions made expected the ozone hole to continue to increase and for the general thickness to get continuously thinner, so that the harmful UV rays of the sun would pass right through our atmosphere and fry our skin if we went outside for ten minutes fifty years from now. (I was actually told this in elementary school, except that we were told that this was an inevitable scenario, and there was really nothing that we could do about it other than buy SPF 250 sun-block. As a tech fix, this would probably be entirely possible!) However, recent evidence has shown that the rate of expansion of the ozone hole is actually decreasing; that the ozone is not being destroyed as quickly as experts thought it would. In fact, the ozone held its own and showed very little damage for a few years at the end of the 1990s. Why? Perhaps it is because emissions that damage the ozone are being reduced internationally, therefore resulting in an overall reduction of damage done annually to the ozone, allowing it to begin to repair itself.
Before it was known that they would cause great damage to the ozone, many factories not only released uncontrolled amounts of polluting emissions, but they also developed products that were very damaging to the atmosphere. A prime example of this was early refrigeration technology. Companies developing refrigerators and refrigeration technology found that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were very effective in refrigeration and had no observable short-term side-effects in the environment when tested in evaluative experiments. However, the interaction of CFCs with the relatively unstable O3 that makes up ozone caused a depletion of this molecule in the atmosphere – thus diminishing the total amount of protective ozone. Once CFCs were realized to be destructive and responsible for a great deal of damage to the ozone, measures were put in place to reduce the amount of CFCs in products. These reductive measures are probably responsible for stemming a lot of ozone depletion. Pure chlorine is another particle that is seriously accountable for ozone damage because of the reactions it makes with O3 (Kerr). Bromide and halocarbons are other key damagers (Fahey/Ravishankara and Kerr). A crucial component in the reduction of ozone damage is to decrease the emissions of these and other harmful materials, both in product development and production, as well as in product functioning itself.
One of the measures...