26 October 2020

Posting the latest science and tech news

The Hole in Earth’s Atmosphere

For over two billion years, the Ozone layer has been responsible for shielding us from harmful Ultraviolet rays. But now, our lifestyle is accountable to the hole in the Ozone layer.

During the dawn of our planet, early aquatic organisms started to harvest the Sun’s energy to carry out the process of photosynthesis. Converting the harmful CO2 (carbon dioxide) into O2 (oxygen), using H2O (water).

As the O2, released from the algae, started to ascend higher into the atmosphere, the Sun’s UV rays altered the O2 into O3. This O3 molecule happened to be exceptionally good at absorbing the UV rays.

The UV protection acquired from the Ozone layer enabled the Earth’s oxygen levels to steadily rise. This facilitated organisms to develop and live on the land.

But how are we responsible for the hole in the Ozone layer?

The answer to that is because of our use of chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs. This substance is normally found in very common uses, such as, aerosols (deodorants), solvents and refrigerants.

CFCs is simply an organic compound that contains carbon, chlorine and fluorine. The composition of CFCs consists of very inert (very unreactive) atoms. This makes CFCs inflammable and non-toxic.

But how does an unreactive and non-toxic substance affect the Earth?

As this compound is a gas and is unreactive, it will start to climb higher into the atmosphere. As it increases in altitude, the UV rays will start to break down the CFCs. This means all the atoms that make up the compound will start to separate.

As the chlorine atom separates, the chlorine atoms reacts with O3 (the molecule that absorbs UV rays). This reaction depletes the ozone layer, as the O3 molecule turns into an O2 molecule, which doesn’t absorb UV.

How do we save the Earth by closing the hole in the Ozone?

There are two ways to do so, minimise the use of CFCs. Or, produce more oxygen.

By reducing the use of manufacturing applications that use or produce CFCs as a by-product, we can minimise the amount of chlorine being released into the atmosphere, causing the Ozone layer to regenerate with the existing O2 molecules. Although it may be a large hassle, causing losses in many businesses if these manufacturing applications are completely halted, we could find an alternative application which hopefully uses/produces less or even absolutely no CFCs.

Another option is to produce more oxygen. This can simply be carried out by planting more photosynthesising organisms, such as plants. By planting more trees, not only will this produce more oxygen to rebuild the Ozone layer, it will also form habitats for multiple other living organisms. This will make Earth a more thriving planet, consisting with a range of organisms.

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