Climate Change

Ozone is a gas in the atmosphere that protects everything living on the Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Without the layer of ozone in the atmosphere, it would be very difficult for anything to survive on the surface. (Think of very bad sunburn, only much worse!) Plants cannot live and grow in heavy ultraviolet radiation, nor can the plankton that serves as food for most of the ocean life. The ozone layer acts as a shield to absorb the UV rays, and keep them from doing damage to the Earth’s surface. Or worse, think about skin cancer and eye cataracts! In the last thirty years, it has been discovered that stratospheric ozone is depleting as a result of anthropogenic pollutants. There are a number of chemical reactions that can deplete stratospheric ozone; however, some of the most significant depletion comes from the catalytic destruction of ozone by freed halogen radicals like chlorine and bromine.

The ozone depletion process begins when CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are emitted into the atmosphere. Winds efficiently mix the troposphere and evenly distribute the gases. CFCs are extremely stable, and they do not dissolve in rain. After a period of several years, ODS molecules reach the stratosphere, about 10 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Strong UV light breaks apart the ODS molecule. CFCs, HCFCs, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, and other gases release chlorine atoms, and halons and methyl bromide release bromine atoms. It is these atoms that actually destroy ozone, not the intact ODS molecule. It is estimated that one chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules before it is removed from the stratosphere.

Ozone is constantly produced and destroyed in a natural cycle, as shown in the above picture, courtesy of NASA GSFC. However, the overall amount of ozone is essentially stable. This balance can be thought of as a stream’s depth at a particular location. Although individual water molecules are moving past the observer, the total depth remains constant. Similarly, while ozone production and destruction are balanced, ozone levels remain stable. This was the situation until the past several decades. Large increases in stratospheric chlorine and bromine, however, have upset that balance. In effect, they have added a siphon downstream, removing ozone faster than natural ozone creation reactions can keep up.

Therefore, ozone levels fall. Since ozone filters out harmful UVB radiation, less ozone means higher UVB levels at the surface. The more the depletion, the larger the increase in incoming UVB. UVB has been linked to skin cancer, cataracts, damage to materials like plastics, and harm to certain crops and marine organisms. Although some UVB reaches the surface even without ozone depletion, its harmful effects will increase as a result of this problem.

Human Activities

Chlorine and bromine are emitted to the atmosphere from both natural and human sources. These very stable human-made chemicals are not soluble in water and are not broken down chemically in the lower atmosphere. Thus, they survive long enough to reach the stratosphere. The CFCs and carbon tetrachloride are relatively unreactive in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) and move unscathed into the stratosphere where they are decomposed by intense sunlight, releasing chlorine to catalyze the destruction of ozone molecules. Certain ozone-depleting chemicals (HCFC-22 and methyl chloroform) are more reactive in the troposphere and deliver less of their initial chlorine load to the stratosphere. Halons also are generally reactive in the troposphere and deliver only a fraction of their initial load of bromine to the stratosphere, but bromine is 40 times more efficient at destroying ozone than chlorine. Increasing attention is being focused on the ozone-depleting role of methyl bromide, which has three potentially major human sources (soil fumigation, biomass burning, and the exhaust of automobiles using leaded gasoline), in addition to a natural oceanic source.

U.S. production of ozone-depleting gases has declined significantly since 1988 and has now reached levels (measured by their ozone depletion potential) comparable to those of 30 years ago. Because of the international agreements to decrease production and ultimately to phase out production of CFCs and halons, total equivalent chlorine (total chlorine and bromine, with adjustments to account for bromine’s higher ozone depletion potential) in the troposphere peaked between 1992 and 1994 and has since decreased. Total chlorine abundance in the stratosphere is at or near peak; stratospheric bromine is likely still increasing. Increasing ozone losses are predicted for the remainder of the decade, with gradual recovery by the mid-21st century.

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Ozone is a protective layer of the earth as it protects earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun. Destruction of ozone is a continuous process that happens by both natural and human-related resources. The natural process always has some other related process that replenishes the depletion made by these. But when humanly interferes with nature then irreparable losses damage the nature. Hence it is our moral duty to get knowledge about our nature and reduce the emission of such gases as are harmful to our environment.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND MONSOON

Monsoon rainfall is the life-blood of more than half the world’s population, for whom agriculture is the main source of subsistence. Traditionally, the terminology “monsoon” was used for the climate that has an apparent seasonal shift of prevailing winds between winter and summer, notably in tropical Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. The term also increasingly refers to regions where there is a clear alternation between winter dry and summer rainy seasons. According to this definition, the monsoon region is distributed globally over all tropical continents, and in the tropical oceans in the western North Pacific, eastern North Pacific, and the southern Indian Ocean.
The important influences, which need to be considered for monsoon prediction on yearly time scales, include the Indian Ocean Dipole – a coupled ocean and atmospheric phenomenon over the Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures. On longer time scales, monsoon variability may be influenced by large-scale variability in the atmosphere and oceans, such the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which affects sea-surface temperature and circulation over much of the Northern Hemisphere Pacific Ocean.
When Monsoon hits Pakistan a large outbreak of diseases are reported in different parts of the country. It’s one of those problems that occur due to lack of preventive measures and lapses in our pre-planned structure. Monsoon usually spans in Pakistan from start of June until the end of August and throughout the months we hear about causalities and illnesses caused by rain and its after effects such as damming of water on roads, deaths due to electric shock, dengue outbreak, malaria, measles etc. Monsoons typically occur in India and Southeast Asia.

A summer monsoon blows from the southwest between May and September and brings rain. Hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, large hail and tornadoes can accompany the arrival of the summer monsoon. A late arrival of the summer monsoon is bad for agriculture, as the rainfall is necessary for crops. A dry monsoon blows from the northeast between October and April. During this time, dry storms suck the moisture away from the land out to sea and cause drought. The intensity of storms produced varies from year to year, and there is no way to predict their severity before they occur. In the late summer, a weaker, more-localized monsoon occurs over the Southwest United States when thunderstorms and humidity spread over the region (Raju et al.,2005).

About 80% of annual rainfall in India occurs during the monsoon season from June through September. Factors that could perturb rainfall regularity include the higher holding capacity of moisture of the warmer air, but also more complex phenomena like cooling in the higher atmosphere which changes current pressure and thereby rainfall patterns. Extreme rainfall bears the risk of flooding and crop failure, it said. The study says increased variability translates into potentially severe impacts on people who cannot afford additional loss, said lead author Anders Levermann. “Focusing on the average is not always useful. If rainfall comes in a spell and is followed by a drought, this can be devastating even if the average is normal. This requires the right kind of adaptation measures that account for this variability  such as intelligent insurance schemes, for example,” he said. “Limiting global warming is key, adaptation cannot replace but rather complement it.”

CLIMATE CHANGE AND OZONE DEPLETION

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) chemicals used in refrigeration, air-conditioning systems, cleaning solvents, and aerosol sprays destroy the ozone layer. CFCs release chlorine into the atmosphere; chlorine, in turn, breaks down ozone molecules. Increased ultraviolet radiation would lead to a growing number of skin cancers and cataracts and also reduce the ability of immune systems to respond to infection.

Additionally, the growth of the world’s oceanic plankton, the base of most marine food chains, would decline. Plankton contains photosynthetic organisms that break down carbon dioxide. If plankton populations decline, it may lead to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and thus to global warming. Recent studies suggest that global warming, in turn, may increase the amount of ozone destroyed. Even if the manufacture of CFCs is immediately banned, the chlorine already released into the atmosphere will continue to destroy the ozone layer for many decades.

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Carbon monoxide is released when engines burn fossil fuels. Furnaces and heaters in the home can emit high concentrations of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide makes it hard for body parts to get the oxygen they need to run correctly. Exposure to carbon monoxide makes people feel dizzy and tired and gives them headaches. In high concentrations it is fatal. Elderly people with heart disease are hospitalized more often when they are exposed to higher amounts of carbon monoxide. Nitrogen dioxide mostly comes from power plants and cars. Nitrogen dioxide is formed in two ways when nitrogen in the fuel is burned, or when nitrogen in the air reacts with oxygen at very high temperatures.

Nitrogen dioxide can also react in the atmosphere to form ozone, acid rain, and particles. High levels of nitrogen dioxide exposure can give people respiratory problems. Nitrogen dioxide reacts in the atmosphere to form acid rain, which can harm plants and animals. A corrosive gas that cannot be seen or smelled at low levels but can have a “rotten egg” smell at high levels. Sulfur dioxide mostly comes from the burning of coal or oil in power plants. It also comes from factories that make chemicals, paper, or fuel. Sulfur dioxide reacts in the atmosphere to form acid rain and particles. Sulfur dioxide exposure can affect people who have asthma or emphysema. It can also irritate people’s eyes, noses, and throats. Particulate matter can be divided into two types coarse particles and fine particles. Coarse particles are formed from road dust, sea spray, and construction.

Fine particles are formed when fuel is burned in automobiles and power plants. Particulate matter that is small enough can enter the lungs and cause health problems.

Physiological and developmental processes of plants are affected by UVB radiation. Indirect changes caused by UVB (such as changes in plant form, how nutrients are distributed within the plant, timing of developmental phases and secondary metabolism).These changes can have important implications for plant competitive balance, herbivory, plant diseases, and biogeochemical cycles. Phytoplankton form the foundation of aquatic food webs. In addition, many phytoplankton are capable of active movements that enhance their productivity and, therefore, their survival. Solar UVB radiation has been found to cause damage to early developmental stages of fish, shrimp, crab, amphibians and other animals.

The most severe effects are decreased reproductive capacity and impaired larval development. Increases in solar UV radiation could affect terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemical cycles, thus altering both sources and sinks of greenhouse and chemically-important trace gases e.g., carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbonyl sulfide (COS) and possibly other gases, including ozone.

These potential changes would contribute to biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks that attenuate or reinforce the atmospheric buildup of these gases. Synthetic polymers, naturally occurring biopolymers, as well as some other materials of commercial interest are adversely affected by solar UV radiation. Today’s materials are somewhat protected from UVB by special additives. Therefore, any increase in solar UVB levels will therefore accelerate their breakdown, limiting the length of time for which they are useful outdoors.

 

Climate Change

There is strong evidence that climate change, specifically increasing temperatures, is a serious problem and is having impacts on the world’s biological and physical systems and it is estimated that these issues will become even worse. Global warming is an increase in the temperature of earth’s atmosphere also leads to climate change. There are many factors responsible for global warming and climate change such as lack of social awareness and overuse of technology. Greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. The amount of greenhouse gases have been increased in the environment because of this we are observing the changes in weather patterns. Greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and fossil fuels are the main factors which has led to global warming. Some people find it difficult to believe that humans are responsible for it, but the fact is that human activities are responsible for negative effects on climate change. The Earth gets warm from the energy coming from the sun, some of the solar radiation reflects back into space and small portion is absorbed by the Earth that create our atmosphere. Climate change is known to be cause by changing weather, industrial pollution and car exhaust. Climate change is a long term change in the average weather of a particular area.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth, these are one and the same fight. We must link the connection between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solution for all.”-Ban Ki-moon

Change will not come if we wait for some other person to make those changes. We are the ones we have been waiting for and we are the change that we seek. My role as a citizen in the country is to find new and positive ways in which I can save my planet. In the future, I want to see myself more involved with climate change campaigns and attend community meetings to see what I can do to help to save our environment. I believe that it is not a civic obligation to help to address the problem but I also believe that it is essential to share my thoughts and ideas to see what can I do to help end climate change out of my own will. I have found some ways to deal with this issue in which I can help the environment. A few things one can do:

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Use water efficiently
  • Use less heat and air conditioning
  • Drive less
  • Encourage others to conserve

I am willing to conduct interview to create awareness which are connected to the issue, join an interest group and attend an interest group event. Individuals are mostly affected by climate change because it poses a serious problem to health. A warmer climate leads to higher levels of some air pollutants and more extreme weather conditions. It also increases the ranges of transmission of infectious diseases through contaminated water and unhealthy food. We are at a risk of losing our planet so we should take measures to resolve this issue. We need to agree that climate change is real and we have to face this problem to come to a solution. Some measures that could be taken are changes in agricultural production such as farming.

More climate change indicates less food and water resources. It’s drying up farm land and water supplies. When people don’t have sufficient water and food then they start fighting and kill each other. It does not help that developed counties are buying up poor country’s dwindling farm land and water supplies for their own future food and water security. It is said by Naomi Klein, Climate change is not about things getting hotter. It’s about things getting meaner.” When things get more complicated then sexism/homophobia/racism also rises because want a scapegoat. Climate change makes things more complicated. We have to change the way of living to save our planet.