Is the Crisis Over?
Ozone Depletion and Industrial Output
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
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.
of the measures instituted to reduce destructive emissions was the 1987
the reduction of damaging emissions is a positive step in helping our
atmosphere, there is still an inherent problem in our actions: we are reacting,
treating a problem that is already present. This means that although we may be
reducing our emissions and the damage done to the atmosphere, we are still
doing damage to some extent. I
think that a more conscientious alternative to emission reduction that can and
should be phased in to industry is the use of green technology. Green technology is beneficial in that
it is preventative rather than reactive technology. The
Unfortunately, there are some problems with green technology. First of all, there has not been enough time for green chemistry principles to be systematized into industry. In addition, the government currently has implemented taxation systems that punish polluters but do not reward clean technologies. Also, there is a big economic difference between reducing emissions and instituting different systems. These facets of green chemistry implementation make it hard for groups to see the economic (and sometimes environmental) benefits of new technologies over older, cleaned up methods (Poliakoff et al.).
If current systems can change, and people can be enlightened as to the benefits of green technology (and rewarded for defraying the initial cost), then there will be an even greater chance that harmful emissions will be reduced by industry and other sectors of society. Reducing harmful emissions will not only continue to help lessen damage to the ozone, but it may also help with other current environmental problems like terrestrial and oceanic pollution and global warming. However, if people cease to recognize the ozone as being in a crisis state anymore, and therefore do not find it important to continue to reduce damage done to it, there is the realistic path of dangerously continuing to destruct our atmosphere. Basically, cleaning up technology and industry in order to reduce emissions and other problems is an uphill battle, but a very feasible one if enough people recognize it as worthy. If industry continues to reduce emissions, and is given incentives to institute greener technologies rather than just cleaning up old ones, I think that we will well be on our way to ceasing ozone damage and perhaps also to help eradicate other environmental problems.
Fahey, D.W. and A.R. Ravishankara. Summer in the Stratosphere. Science, v.285, n.5425, p.208-210, July 1999.
Kerr, Richard. A Brighter Outlook for Good Ozone. Science, v.297, p.1623-1625, September 2002.
Poliakoff, Martyn et al. Green Chemistry: Science and Politics of Change. Science, v.297, p.807-810, August 2002.
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