A thin layer of gas called atmosphere surrounds the Earth. The atmosphere serves two important purposes: it is a filter for the suns dangerous ultraviolet radiation rays and keeps the heat, necessary to maintain life on earth, within the stratosphere (Vorlat 361). Ultraviolet light is incredibly dangerous to all the organisms within the Earth's ecosystem because it causes skin cancer, effects the immune system, and harms plant and animal life. For that reason the atmosphere and the ozone layer within it are crucial to a stable life on this planet. The ozone layer is in danger, however. It is facing depletion by a toxic man-made substance called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Together the international community is working through treaties and conventions to stop this environmental problem.
To understand the problem behind ozone depletion we first must understand what ozone is and how it works. Ozone is a thin protective layer that starts nine miles up in the air and continues up in the sky thirty-one miles (Kellner 20). It serves as a screen against the sun’s harmful UV rays by protecting plants and animals, as well as people from skin cancer, immune system problems, and eye disorders, such as cataracts (Ozone Treaties). Ozone is a gas, often a bluish color, made up of three oxygen atoms instead of the typical two. Ozone forms when solar ultraviolet rays and oxygen molecules meet. The result of the meeting is free oxygen molecules that form to regular oxygen molecules to create ozone molecules. Thus the process repeats (Vorlat 361). So in essence the sun’s rays are destroying oxygen molecules to create the ozone that is going to serve as a filter for the planet...
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...nment Programme. (1997) The Climate Change Convention. New York, New York.
United Nations Department of Public Information. United Nations, Press Release. (1999, March 16) 84 Countries Now Signed on to Kyoto Protocol. [on-line] http://www.unfccc.de/fccc/conv/presskp.html.
Vorlat, Katrien. "The Chemistry of the Atmosphere." International Environmental Law Anthology. Ed. Anthony D'Amato and Kristen Engel. Cincinnati: Anderson, 1996.
Warrik, J. (1998, November 15) 160 Nations Endorse Pact on GlobalWarming Compliance; Accord Speeds Up Timetable for ‘Action Plan’ on Environment. Washinton Post. [on-line]http://newslibrary.krmediastream.com/cgi- bin/document/wp_auth?DBLIST=wp98&DOCNUM=61971.
Wysham, Daphne. “On Eve of Clinton Visit World Bank Grants China $330 Million for High Polluting Coal Project.” 25 June 1998. http://www.igc.org/coc/bwi081.html
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