The small blue and green planet we call the earth is the only celestial body where life is known to exist. It’s the unique set of circumstances that make this blessed planet very special and habitable, and probably, the only place in the entire universe to host life. The distinct features which actually render the earth habitable include; presence of some elements such as Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Hydrogen (which are involved in the basic structures of complex molecules forming living cells); suitable temperature range on its surface for sustenance of life; presence of a liquid medium, like water; and the presence of a protective atmosphere having a protective layer like ozone layer to protect it from harmful cosmic radiations. All life on our lovely planet exists, in fact, within a thin layer of air, water and soil forming a shell of life, known as biosphere, on and around the surface of earth. The biosphere is sustained and protected on its outer sides by a sustaining and protective layering of atmosphere. Ozone is an extremely important component of this protective layer. It, chemically, consisting of a thick layer of Oxygen (in its tri-atomic form) forms an effective and indispensable shield in the atmospheric segment spanning between 20 to 60 km above the earth’s surface.The same gas when present in tropospheric layers (lower atmosphere) is regarded as an air pollutant that causes detrimental effects on human and floral and faunal life on the earth. But its relatively high-concentration-region in the stratospheric layers absorbs most of the harmful ultra violet rays coming from the sun and thus creates life-friendly conditions on the earth’s surface. Solar energy (which too is the only source of energy on our planet) comes to us in the form of a wide range of electromagnetic radiations. This electromagnetic spectrum also consists of some highly energetic but equally destructive radiations such as UV(ultraviolet) which are categorically filtered out by the ozone present as a blanket in the upper atmospheric region. In the absence of such a shield or sunscreen around the planet, the existence, evolution and survival of life would have not been permissible at all or at least life would not have been evolved the way it has. There is a constant amount of Ozone (O?) present in the ozonosphere (ozone rich region of the atmosphere) and balance is maintained by the continuous processes of its destruction and formation (under the influence of UV radiations) under natural conditions. Increased use of certain manmade materials known as Ozone depleting substances (ODS) on reaching the upper atmosphere, however, disturb this fragile balance risking the entire spectrum of life on the earth.Though sufficiently enough to perform its function when undisturbed, the entire amount of Ozone when compressed at sea level formsa layer of merely 3mm thickness around the globe. With the introduction of huge CFCs (chloroflourocarbons), HCFCs (Hydro CFCs), halons, etc which are stable in lower atmosphere but causes disturbing changes on reaching ozonosphere region. The first most pronounced impact was when a massive thinning in ozone covering was seen in Antarctic region in 1975. Seasonal and permanent thinning of ozone has since been observed in various other parts of the world. It has also been found by the scientists with concrete evidences that there is an overall worldwide depletion in Ozone. The depletion in ozone is bound to have much greater impacts than usually perceived. Its impacts would range from those on everyday life to very long lasting. From drastic climatic disturbances to huge ecological disruptions, everything would be dreadfully impacting human life and welfare. Serious health problems in humans, devastating effects on aquatic and terrestrial life forms, disrupted food chains and biochemical cycles in ecosystems, complete disarray of socio-economic resources, etc. are consequences humanity would have to face for a slight global change in stratospheric ozone concentration. The realization that the human-induced changes are disturbing natural balance in ozone layer culminated in the International community’s signing the Montreal Protocol in 1987. Under the protocol, it was agreed to completely phase out the ODSs including CFCs, halons, CTC(carbontetrachloride) and MCF(methyl chloroform) as per given schedule. Since then lot of measures have been adopted, and most of them effectively, to save the ozone. The Protocol has been successful in meeting most the targets it fixed to phase out ODS. Reversing the damage caused so far is, however, far from being achieved.Even if no more ODSs are released in the atmosphere from now, the restoration in the damaged layer of Ozone will only be assessable after 2050. To make the commoners and the elites realize the dangers looming overhead in the guise of depleting ozone, the UN has decided, since 1994, to dedicate 16th of September (the date of signing Montreal Protocol) as Ozone Preservation Day. The slogan for this year is, “Ozone: All there is between you and UV”. Everyone as a world citizen has a role to play in saving the environment. Awareness followed by concernedness and adoption of preventive measures on every citizen’s part is the key for a better and safe environment. Though we have curbed the use of targeted ODS but still some of them are present in older appliances and equipments used in industries or in homes. Proper disposal of materials, avoidance of wasteful lifestyle, and adoption of minimalism and embracing an eco-friendly behavior would be the only means of protecting our environment and achieving the sustainability.
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