Open Course on Environment for IAS Pre. "Global Climate Change and Depletion of Ozone Layer"

(IAS Pre. Environment) Global Climate Change and Depletion of Ozone Layer

Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most significant topics that needs to be discussed today; not just the whys and hows but also what can be done to minimize the harmful implications from this phenomenon.

Methane, water vapour, CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and Carbon Dioxides constitute the major greenhouse gases. Pollution today, be it from industries, vehicles have shot up the concentration of Greenhouse Gases beyond what is desirable, or which is healthy. Naturally, this tempers with the balance that needs to be maintained, resulting in adverse weather conditions across the globe and making people suffer.

Ozone Depletion

Ozone Layer is very crucial for the existence of mankind, since it does not allow ultra violet rays from the sun to reach earth’s atmosphere. This layer is located around 15-30 km above the surface. However, since quite some time people have been doing things and using products that have depleted this ozone layer, with harmful consequences of course. And this layer seems to be getting worse, thanks to the self destructing activities of materialistic human beings. This has started ever since towards the end of 20th century. These chemicals have been used in ACs, refrigerators, and various other electronic equipments and different agricultural solvents.

Ozone depletion has been grabbing headlines of late and is considered as an international issue. The degree of depletion however is not the same and varies by region. The minimum depletion has occurred in the tropics and the most eyebrow raising situation of ozone depletion has been in Antarctica. Owing to the urgency of the matter, many steps have been taken to contain the situation there.This severe ozone depletion is termed the Antarctic 'ozone hole'.

But that is not enough, because with these kinds of holes, people are at risk way more than what is even bearable. Too much ultraviolet light causes cancer of the skin, cataracts in eyes, distortion of plant growth, damage the environment of the marine system .

Montreal Protocol was an important milestone when it comes to steps taken to control ozone layer depletion. This was an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion and signed on September 16th, 1987. Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international co-operation, with Kofi Annan quoted as saying that "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol.

An interesting fact to note is that New Zealand does not produce any ozone depleting substances.

Adverse Impacts of Climate Change and Ozone Depletion.

Climate change and ozone depletion, though, may sound different, but share a few interrelated issues. The ozone layer is found in the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere. Climate change is due to increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the troposphere, the lower part of atmosphere. The increase in greenhouse gases mostly as a by-product of man-made activities is called 'global warming' which is more or less 'climate change' because it is likely to bring about more extreme events – floods, storms, cyclones, droughts and landslides– rather than an increase in temperature only. Winds and temperatures in the stratosphere influence ozone concentrations and all these conditions are to change as a result of global warming which ultimately affects the recovery of the ozone layer.

So let’s take a glance at the impact of climate change in our day to day lives. The first thing that comes to our mind with climate change is excess or extreme heat that is the order of the hour not just for India but the world. Extreme heat causes increased mortality in the population. Polar as well as temperate  regions are expected to warm disproportionately more than tropical and subtropical zones

Climate change may also impact public health through effects on harmful marine phytoplankton  blooms. Increases in this particular matter is the result of poor erosion control management, excess use of fertilizers in agriculture.There could be loss of soil moisture too.

Thermal expansion of oceans and sea may cause the water level to rise and it could directly disrupt dwellings and public health infrastructures. Vulnerable populations in low-lying coastal areas and small islands would be forced to migrate to safer locations. Fresh water supply would diminish. According to research,a sea-level rise of one metre could destroy 15%  of agriculture in Egypt and 20% of agriculture in Bangladesh .

Skin cancer is caused by direct excess of sunlight exposure for a very long time. The statistics of this is supported by increase in evidences of cancer amongst western population.

Eye cataract formation causes half of the world’s blindness and is associated with UVB radiation depending on the exposure .

Developing and under-developed countries suffer  from the implications  of climate change,way more than the developed  nations, even though the developing and underdeveloped  nations  are  not necessarily responsible for emitting more  greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Developed nations ought to embrace more environmentally sound energy policies and promptly transfer new (and affordable) technology to developing countries.

The way ahead

The need of the hour is for all the nations , irrespective of how developed or underdeveloped they are; to work together for the sustainable development for this planet, so that our future generations get to enjoy their lives as much as we did or our forefathers did, otherwise the day is not far ahead when children would not know what the term ‘in the lap of nature’ would even mean. Even as individuals we could be doing this planet a favor even if in our day-to-day lives we follow a few basic steps to stop this ‘climate –change and ozone depletion’ from getting worse. Let’s try doing the following for starters:

  • Shut the lights off when you are no longer in that room. Replace light bulbs with CFL bulbs.

  • If you have an old refrigerator, then replace it since it is not energy efficient..

  • A solar hot water system is definitely a good way to go.

  • Energy efficient way will be washing dishes manually rather than dishwashers.

  • Gas stoves are more efficient than the electric stoves.

  • Use microwaves to heat up foods. It uses 1/3 less electricity than the ovens.

  • Make sure your home in clean and proper surroundings.

  • Your car emits the same amount of CO2 of your body weight every 300 km you drive so plan your trips accordingly and try carpooling whenever possible.

  • Tune up your vehicle twice a year it will have a positive impact on the vehicle and help check the emissions.

  • Make sure your exhaust system is functioning properly. This helps your vehicle run in an efficient manner and not polluting the environment.

  • Do not leave your car running when you leave your vehicle, it emits more CO2 when idling and  gas or fuel gets wasted needlessly.

  • Recycle newspapers. It will save many trees.

  • Plant trees whenever and wherever you can.

  • Compost all your organic waste in your household. It will be reducing your garbage volume by around 40%.

  • Wetlands absorb carbon out of the air, and filter chemicals out of the water, so try and protect them.

  • Buy things which can be re-used, use them over and over again.

UPSCPORTAL will soon come up with more articles and study material on Environment section.

We wish the Candidates All the Best for their Preparations.



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