Earth is the only planet of our solar system where life exists. Its atmosphere played a key role in it. Ozone layer is a region of earth’s atmosphere, which absorbs ultraviolet radiation of the sun. This layer is a fragile shield of Ozone gas that protects the earth from the harmful radiation of the sun and helps to preserve the life on it. But increasing population and several human activities over the year have caused the depletion of the Ozone layer. So, to protect the Ozone layer, Montreal Protocol was signed by different countries. To commemorate this date, UN declared 16 September as International Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer. It is also celebrated as World Ozone Day. The day is celebrated to protect the layer which has been protecting the earth for millions of years. The Montreal Protocol highlights the need to protect the Ozone layer by phasing out the controlled uses of ozone depleting substances.
What is Ozone Layer and how it protects the Earth?
The sun emits ultraviolet radiations (UV) that is harmful to the earth. Long-term exposure to high levels of UV rays is dangerous to the human health and causes severe health problems like skin cancer, genetic damage, immune system suppression, sun burn, etc. The UV radiation also damages most animal life, plant life and microbes present on the earth. The ozone layer which is present in the stratosphere region of the earth protects the planet from these harmful rays.
Ozone is a natural substance whose molecule has three atoms of oxygen. It is also known as trioxygen. Molecules of ozone gas are being produced and destroyed all the time. The sun releases many types of UV radiations like UV-B, UV-C, etc. When UV-C rays reach the stratosphere, the ozone layer completely absorbs them. The oxygen molecules of the ozone get split into two parts- O2 and O. These single atoms of oxygen then react with other oxygen molecules and produce more ozone. Therefore, this process helps in increasing the amount of ozone layer in the stratosphere. But, other gases like nitrogen and hydrogen are also present in the region and particles of these gases participate in the reaction cycle and destroy ozone. This reaction depletes the ozone layer presented in the stratosphere.
What is the history behind World Ozone Day?
The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and UN General Assembly proclaimed September 16, as Ozone Day in the year 1995. The international day for the preservation of ozone or World Ozone Day was established to spread the importance of ozone. In the year 2000, UNGA designated this day as World Ozone Day to spread global awareness towards the need and urgency of preserving and protecting the ozone layer.
Why is World Ozone Day observed?
Humans are considered as the last stage of evolution of mankind because they have minds like no other species have. The mind of humans have created enormous things to fulfill their needs. But sometimes when human needs convert into greed then problems would arise. Hence, the activities of humans are the cause of depletion of ozone layer or ozone hole. This reduction in the amount of ozone layer is the cause of many environmental changes which gradually are resulting in natural calamities for human beings. If we want to live our life peacefully and also want to save our resources for future generations then prevention and conservation of biodiversity is very important. Similarly, prevention of ozone layer is also required. So, to make people aware about the prevention of ozone layer, several countries come together to observe World Ozone Day.
World Ozone Day 2021 Theme
World Ozone Day 2020 was celebrated with the theme ‘Ozone for Life: 35 years of the Vienna Convention and 35 years of global ozone layer protection’. This year countries celebrate World Ozone Day 2021 with the theme ‘Ozone for Life: 36 Years of Ozone Layer Protection’. However, many other organizations celebrate this day with other different themes that are related with environment-friendly issues.
What is Montreal Protocol?
Life on earth could not be possible if sunlight would not be there. But the sun emits energy that is too much to sustain life on earth. Therefore, the ozone layer shields the earth from most of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the late 1970s, scientists discovered that human activities were creating a hole in the protective shield of earth and warned countries about its future effects. The hole in the ozone is caused by manufactured chemicals. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are among the main ozone-depleting substances. These are emitted from refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.
So, in 1985, the governments of different countries adopted the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Under this convention, a protocol called Montreal Protocol was signed as a global agreement to protect the ozone layer. As per this treaty, production of various ozone-depleting substances was banned. As a result of formation of this protocol, the hole in the ozone layer is gradually healing which is a good sign for human health, economies and ecosystems.
Importance of Montreal Protocol
International Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer is celebrated to mark the Montreal Protocol. Thanks to this treaty, we have successfully avoided a world in which ozone holes would have occurred every year over the Arctic and Antarctic regions. However, we are not fully successful to save the ozone layer yet and if we stopped protecting it then we may face some severe consequences as follows:
- More exposure to the sun can cause severe health problems like skin cancer, cataracts, etc. We should all try to avoid too much exposure to the sun to reduce such diseases.
- Ultraviolet rays not only create problems related to our skin but also cause other health effects. With the presence of ozone layer we have a balance between positive and negative effects of UV rays. But if ozone layer keeps getting depleted, this disturbance in the balance of positive and negative effects of UV rays can cause severe health problems in humans.
- Depletion of ozone layer also affects the plants and animals of earth. Increased exposure to UV rays can damage the crops, aquatic food chains and can also disturb the ecosystem of life.
- All species of earth whether they are living or non-living are interconnected. Uncontrolled ozone depletion threatens the production of food, plants, animals and microbes. So, if one aspect of our ecosystem gets affected then the whole system get disturbed and this damage environment or bio-diversity of earth.
World Ozone Day which is held on September 16 to commemorate the achievement of the Montreal Protocol. This day also makes people understand the importance of ozone layer and need to protect it. Ozone Day shows that collective decisions and action of different nations with the guidance of science is the correct way to solve such major global crises.
In this year of the coronavirus pandemic which has brought social and economic hardship for humans has increased the importance of preservation of ozone layer. Apart from organising various events, people celebrate World Ozone Day by sharing messages, quotes, images, articles, slogans to raise awareness about the subject on different social media sites. School Megamart also wishes you Happy World Ozone Day and hopes that we continue our endeavours to protect our beautiful planet for present and future generations.
World Ozone Day 2021: FAQs
Q1. How can we celebrate World Ozone Day 2021 in schools?
Ans. Schools can organise different activities like poster competition, essay writing activities, speeches, quizzes on World Ozone Day, with themes like ‘Heal the earth’, ‘Ozone for Life’.
Q2. In what ways can we protect the ozone layer?
Ans. We can adopt several ways to protect the ozone layer. Some of them are:
- Avoid use and manufacturing of gases which are dangerous to the ozone layer
- Reduce the use of cars or vehicles that cause pollution
- Avoid using cleaning products that are harmful to the environment
- Increase the use of eco-friendly products
- Reduce the use of air conditioners, as they produce CFC gases which are very dangerous to the ozone layer.
Q3. What is the main cause of depletion of ozone layer?
Ans. The release of Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs is the main cause of depletion of ozone layer. These gases are released from halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, etc.
Q4. How humans are responsible in the depletion of ozone layer?
Ans. Human activities are the cause of emission of Halogen gases. These gases contain chlorine, fluorine and bromine atoms. These atoms further lead to stratospheric ozone depletion. Halogen gases contain molecules of chlorofluorocarbons and these CFCs molecules in the stratosphere are broken down by the ultraviolet radiations which cause the depletion of the ozone layer.