If you are on a computer and can read this newsletter, you will no doubt hear about global warming.
You may have heard different stories about what can cause global warming and what it will do to us, from the effect CFC gases have on the ozone layer to global warming which is nothing more than a natural occurrence as our planet keeps emerging from “Little Ice. Last “Age. But how much do you know about any of these subjects? And how do they influence you?
Effects of CFC Gas
First of all, to understand how CFC gases might affect the ozone layer, it is important to understand what the ozone layer actually is.
Ozone is a form of oxygen, one of three forms that can be found in our Earth’s atmosphere. Without ozone, our planet would be a very different place because it protected all of us from harmful radiation from the Sun’s radiation (ultraviolet (UV), lifeor at least, life as we know it would not exist.
If the ozone layer is damaged, UV rays will be able to reach the Earth’s surface, with the result being a dramatic increase in the number of skin cancer cases and eye cataracts.
The influence on the food chain can also be disastrous. Because UV rays kill plankton in the ocean, fish and whales that live on plankton will eventually starve and disappear. This would then affect the next link in the chain – the creatures that lived off the fish – and so would continue down the chain.
It’s just that we don’t depend on meat to survive – a few carrots, a handful of potatoes and cabbage a day should be enough.
However, let’s continue to see how CFC gases affect the ozone layer. Those who do chemistry in school will know what this is all about.
Any compound containing chlorine will cause a decrease in natural ozone levels by removing one atom of oxygen from the ozone molecule, thus converting it to oxygen.
As you can imagine, there is no natural occurrence of such compounds in the upper atmosphere, but large numbers have built up over time due to the increasing use of man-made chlorine-based compounds, of which CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) are the most common.
When we first started using CFCs back in the 1930’s anprimarily to cool fridges we thought they were safe. When you don’t know any better, you can’t be blamed for making mistakes, right?
We know now that CFCs rise from the Earth’s surface and into the stratosphere where they are bombarded by UV rays. We know that this releases chlorine atoms which react with ozone molecules and we know that before long, ozone becomes oxygen and we are left with a little more protection.
While most countries have banned the use of CFCs in aerosols, they are still found in refrigerators and in some types of foam packaging.
How much this will affect our generations is uncertain – it depends entirely on how quickly the ozone layer is depleted – but what is certain is that it will affect future generations.
The choices we make today will affect the future of the planet. It’s up to us to make the right one. What’s great is that we have the knowledge to make choices that will give our offspring the opportunity to live well too.
Is global warming all about the ozone layer though?
There is a theory that doesn’t involve the ozone layer at all, and that is that our planet is getting warmer as ocean tides drive climate change.
Evidently, the coldest water found at the deepest points of the oceans is generally transported to the surface by tides which cause the water to mix, thereby lowering the temperature in the air. But thanks to changes in the way tides work, less cold water is mixing with the upper layers of warmer water, with the result being a warmer period on Earth.
According to scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography – part of the University of California, the way the oceans deal with cold water is controlled by the alignment of the sun, moon and earth. Currently we experience less and less cold water being forced to the surface, bringing the planet towards its warmest peaks.
When will this happen? Well, the last “Little Ice Age” was during the 15th century, when Vikings perished in Greenland after enjoying the temperate climate there during the 14th century. This is about 1,800 years after the previous “Little Ice Age” of 1300 AD. With that hot period on. Also knowing that they are about 1,800 years apart, it’s pretty safe to assume that the next hot peak will be around the 30th century – but due to depletion of the ozone layer, this will change, but how much? You guess as good as anyone.