Over the last decade, everyone’s started talking about global warming. It’s on the news whenever there’s a major weather event or dramatic change in temperature, but when was the last time you heard about the ozone layer?
I’ve heard of it probably one other time in my life, but couldn’t remember anything about it until I started researching. I knew people mentioned it when they talked about global warming, so I got curious and started to read.
Turns out, the ozone layer has this massive hole in it. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp scientific discoveries, but this one is a huge hole in what’s basically the roof of the earth.
It’s something everyone should know about or at least be aware of. Here’s what studies are showing and how everyone can help prevent ozone layer depletion causes from happening in their daily lives.
What You Need to Know
When I first heard the term, “ozone layer,” I figured it might be something else humans produce that affects the earth. That’s totally not true.
The ozone layer has been part of the earth since long before there were enough humans to be concerned about the planet. It’s the second layer of the atmosphere, home to a bunch of protective gases that only want to help us out.
It has a crucial job. The farther up into the ozone layer you go, the hotter it gets. That’s because the ozone gases in the upper layers actually absorb UV rays from the sun. You’ve heard about UV rays every time you’ve been told to put on sunscreen and wear sunglasses.
Specifically, the ozone layer protects the earth from the part of UV light that’s called UVB. The B stands for type B ultraviolet, which is the part that’s most harmful to human and plant life.
So what’s all this about depletion? Scientists recorded decades of ozone activity, monitoring it even thought it maintained a regular amount of ozone molecules. Then in the 1980s, they noticed a hole forming over the Antarctic. This was highly unusual, since they’d never seen anything like it before.
Ozone Layer and Climate Change
When the ozone hole was first announced, people didn’t think it was much of a big deal. Nature goes through many different phases in all ranges of severity. The earth has been through a global ice age, so it could spring back from anything. Right?
While the earth can recover from its own processes, it hasn’t faced human pollution on this scale before. Analysts found man-made compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons destroying the ozone layer.
Sometimes this destruction is wrapped up in the global warming and climate change argument. Science disagrees that they’re related. They’re caused by entirely different man-made gases, so they couldn’t be solved with the same solution even if everyone got on board.
Still, there is a general connection. Both heat up the earth. The ozone hole allows harmful light rays into the earth, warming it up. Then there’s global warming, which is where different gases trap heat in the lower levels of the atmosphere.
How You Can Help
Let’s get back to the man-made molecules part. The CFCs that did the most ozone damage were banned in 1996, which greatly limited how many were released into the atmosphere. At the same time, the CFCs that are already up there are expected to last into the 21st century.
Here are some of the ways people have contributed to the destruction of the ozone layer in the past and how you can prevent doing so in your own daily life.
1. Research Your Fridge
Before 1996, CFCs were used as a coolant, so they were commonly found in refrigerators. They won’t harm anyone who uses a fridge or the food stored inside. The problem comes when the fridge is replaced.
Some older fridges still in use may contain CFCs in its refrigerant. Research your fridge to find out if it contains this kind of refrigerant. If it does, you just have to find an EPA certified technician to remove it before you throw the fridge out.
2. Learn About Your AC Unit
AC units are another product that can still contain CFCs in its refrigerants or insulating foam. The same certified technicians can come out and remove these harmful products before the entire unit gets disposed of.
3. Get a Vehicle Emissions Test
Find out what kind of emissions your vehicle produces by getting it tested at a local emissions shop. When I do this, it usually only takes a few minutes. You can also consider upgrading your car to one that has lower emissions, if it’s financially possible.
People used to not be so concerned about car emissions, but these tests have shown that even a short commute to work each week adds up to the gases in the atmosphere.
4. Buy Local Products
Everyone should want to buy locally sourced products anyway, since it helps the local economy grow. Another reason to buy local is to reduce how many products need to be transported by large trucks.
Big diesel trucks are the biggest culprits of road air pollution. They’re heavy duty and require a ton of fuel, which then gets turned into greenhouse gases. Avoid contributing to this by buying locally as much as you can.
5. Ride Public Transportation
Yeah, buses aren’t very good at minimizing emissions on their own, but when you choose to ride the bus, you’re totally eliminating any emissions your car would normally produce. Try taking the bus or train to get where you need to go as often as you can, so
What Else You Can Do
I believe that there is always something more you can do when you’re trying to help others. In this case, you can help the planet beyond your daily choices by continuing to learn.
There are so many resources you can utilize to monitor how the ozone hole is doing. Read reports when they come out on the news and always look for new ways to fight ozone layer depletion causes.
Being aware of the issue is helpful, but actively participating in defeating the problem is what’s going to patch up the shared roof over our planet.