The Potential Effects of a Depleted Ozone Layer - Detrykowski

Topics: Ozone depletion, Ultraviolet, Sun Pages: 7 (2477 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Potential Effects of a Depleted Ozone Layer - Detrykowski

"And God said, let there be light and there was light and then God saw the light, that it was good " ( Genesis 1: 3-4 ). Undoubtedly, light is good. Without light man could not survive. Light is the ultimate cosmic force in this universe allowing man to progress and flourish. In the form of heat, light from the sun warms the Earth. Light, also, is the single most important factor influencing the growth and development of plants. Photosynthesis, a process by which plants incorporate light from the sun, allow plants to botanically grow and survive. Certain forms of light are harmful and thus can be said are 'bad'. A natural umbrella called the ozone layer protects the Earth and its inhabitants by screening out this harmful light. For " millions of years ozone has been protecting the earth " by absorbing ultraviolet or bad radiation from the sun ( Rowland, 1992, p.66 ). This natural umbrella protecting mankind has recently suffered the effects of industrialized society. This " ozone shield is dissipating " and the cause is laid primarily to man - made chemicals ( Bowermaster et al, 1990, p.27 ). If enough of these man - made chemicals are released, "the ozone layer would be weakened to such an extent that it does not filter out the sun's invisible and dangerous ultraviolet rays " ( Jones, 1992, p.36 ). Such a scenario would drastically alter society and the environment. Ozone depletion has been described as "potential catastrophe " and " a planetary time - bomb " ( Way, 1988, p.9 ). The four main areas affected by a depleted ozone layer and thus by the corresponding increase in harmful ultraviolet radiation are agriculture, wildlife, the environment, and human health. A depleted ozone layer has a profoundly negative and potentially devastating effect on humanity and its surroundings.

From an agricultural perspective, a diminished ozone layer poses great risks. Since man's evolution from 'man the hunter and gatherer' to 'man the food producer' , mankind has grown ever more dependent on his surroundings. In the case of food production man relies greatly on these surroundings. The land on which man attempts to grow food for himself, and certainly for others as well, has sufficed for thousands of years. The crops grown on his land have provided thousands with food to eat in the ancient world, millions with food to eat in the medieval world, and billions with food to eat in the present world. Regrettably, there have always been times of hunger and shortages. More frighteningly, in the present world man is confronted with a population boom which is burgeoning near the six billion mark. It is now more important than ever to protect, maintain, and hopefully increase the amount of food grown. One of the drawbacks of industrialization has been the significant depletion of the ozone layer. This depletion could have an incredibly devastating impact on the world and more specifically agriculture. In general, " plants are quite sensitive and fragile when confronted with ultraviolet increases " ( Zimmer, 1993, p.28 ). Words such as sensitivity and fragility only add to the urgency of the possible agricultural holocaust. One agricultural scientist remarked, " soybeans, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes, corn, beans, and wheat are all especially sensitive to UV light " ( Jones, 1992, p.39 ). Since most of the mentioned crops are considered cash crops the economic aspect of lower crop yields could also spell disaster. Food supplies are surely in jeopardy when taking in to account that " more than two - thirds of the plant species - mainly crops - tested for their reaction to ultraviolet light have been found to be damaged by it " ( Lean et al, 1990, p.97 ). An increase in ultraviolet light radiating towards plants accelerates the pace at which man must decide what to do with the dilemma of a booming and more importantly hungry population. Conceedingly, plants, as any...

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Jones, David. " Ozone. " Earthkeeper Oct./ Nov. 1992: 36 - 46.
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Lemonick, Michael D. " Deadly Danger in a Spray Can. " Time 2 Jan. 1989: 41.
Lemonick, Michael D. " The Ozone Vanishes. " Time 17 Feb. 1992: 40 - 44.
Rowland, F. Sherwood. " Northern Exposure. " People 20 Apr. 1992: 66 - 68.
Zimmer, Carl. " Son of Ozone Hole. " Nature Oct. 1993: 28 - 30.
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