The Political Aspects of Ozone Depletion

Environmental Studies Group Project:
The Political Effects of Ozone Depletion
Unlike most environmental issues, there was widespread acceptance of scientific predictions concerning ozone depletion. Protecting the ozone layer by controlling the production of ozone-depleting substances (ODP's), has been a major environmental concern since the mid-1970’s. At this time, two scientists, Molina and Rowland published a study demonstrating the ability of CFC;s to catalytically breakdown ozone in the presence of high frequency UV light. This ozone, along with oxygen in the stratosphere absorbs almost all UV. The main problem is that CFC;s, halons, chlorinated solvents, and methyl bromide are unstable to UV-C in the stratosphere and will photolyze to form chlorine radicals. These chlorine radicals are a major ozone-depleting substance with very high ozone depleting potential. There are many serious consequences of ozone depletion, not only on the environment but on human health as well. Like any other major environmental issue there is politics and controversy surrounding it; that is what will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
As Rowland and Molina;s paper discussing CFC;s as ozone depleting substances was being written, global consumption of the main ODS;s were increasing rapidly, being used in applications like aerosol propellants and refrigeration coolants. While many were skeptical and wanted further evidence, the environmental protection agency (EPA) in the U.S. argued that non-essential CFC;s, as in aerosols should be banned as a precautionary measure. The major chemical companies, such as Du Pont argued that scientific evidence that their products effected the ozone layer would be needed before they introduced any restrictions.The CFC industry was worth
about eight billion dollars a year in the United States during the early 1970’s and this fact buys a
lot of lobbying and advert…

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