Ozone Layer Homeostasis
by James Sutherland.
As I sit at my kitchen table looking out the window, contemplatig the nature of the universe, it is tempting to give in to the naysayers, the dogoodnicks, who would protect us all from the vile scourge MAN. They would make us believe the world is small, that it is delicate and we are destroying it. I've watched their ranks swell to overflowing and heard their voices grow to a thunder. And still, there is something I know deep in my heart.
They are wrong. The world is not delicate. It is strong. It is robust, it is alive, teeming with life and we are a part of it. We are not destroying the world. In fact, we are not affecting it in the smallest part.
Our ozone layer may be the best example of how our world works. Ozone is an oxygen molecule of 3 parts oxygen O3 rather than the usual O2 molecule most common in our atmosphere. It occurs naturally at high altitude in our atmosphere in what has become known as the ozone layer.
Ozone is an unstable particle, easily decaying and combining with other chemicals. Ozone has an important physical property. It blocks ultraviolet radiation. The ozone layer blocks most of the high energy photons of ultraviolet radiation (UV rad) from penetrating any deeper into our atmosphere. It is these high energy uv photons which are believed to contribute to skin cancer. Thus the ozone layer does an important job.
In the 1970's environmentaloids presented a series of mechanisms and chemicals as being harmful to the ozone layer. None of these ideas had the desired effect of creating public hysteria to the point where financial contributions to environmental groups increased. That is, until they hit upon chluoro-fluoro carbons, at the time commonly used in aerosol cans as a propellant. Now this was a chemical that had legs, it really brought in the bucks.
That it destroys ozone remains unproven. How it might is greatly debated, with wilder and wilder theories created about how these chemicals can travel around the world. I regard all these theories the same way. I don't care. They don't matter. They are of no consequence. They make no difference. Even if chloro-fluoro carbons , or anything else, destroy ozone (and I don't concede that), it doesn't matter. It's not the nature of the universe.
To understand ozone is to understand the deeper truths of the universe. Look back, earlier in this article is the key. The secret. I'll pause while you look. Did you find it? Sure, there it is.
Ozone is an unstable particle. It decays all by itself, with or without help, all the time, every day, right now. Right now the ozone over your head is decaying. It is breaking down and becoming O2 again. Of course, this has been going on continually since Earth first had an oxygen atmosphere, which is to say: a while.
That we have any ozone layer at all is proof that there is a mechanism creating ozone. Oh yeah' how did that ozone get up there in the first place. Now this truly is the elegant part.
After exhaustive research I've discovered the elusive ozone creation mechanism (in my high school chemistry textbook * )
O2 (g) + uv rad l >286 nm = 2 O (g) then O (g) + O2 (g) = O3 (g)
That's right, ultraviolet radiation creates ozone. As soon as ultraviolet radiation comes into contact with oxygen it creates ozone, which then blocks the UV rad from penetrating any deeper. As ozone decays, more is created. Ozone comes and goes but the ozone layer remains the same. This is homeostasis. Ultraviolet radiation created the ozone layer, and maintains it.
Not however at constant levels because ultraviolet radiation is not a constant. Phenomenon such as sun spots can temporarily increase UV radiation. At these times expect an increase in ozone production and a thickening of the ozone layer.
During polar winters the sun is not seen for months on end. At these times no ozone is being created while ozone continues to decay naturally until the ozone layer is completely depleted. These are the now famous Arctic and Antarctic ozone holes. There has been no end of nonsense written to explain these naturally occurring seasonal phenomenon. There's no danger of getting skin cancer under these holes because there's no UV radiation there at that time. In the spring, when sunlight returns, the ozone layer is built back up again. The same thing can be expected every night on a smaller scale as ozone decays in the dark and is rebuilt in the morning light. The ozone layer is self regulating, ebbing and waning as conditions change. It is not static but is part of a living breathing world. All in all, the most elegant of solutions.
But it is not the only one. The entire planet operates the same way, regulating itself, cleaning itself, responding to variations in chemical levels, radiation, and physical conditions. For example: if you raise the planet's temperature, you get a larger Antarctic ice sheet. If you put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, you don't get the greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change or any other such nonsense. You get more phytoplankton. If you put millions of tons of dust into the atmosphere it wouldn't cause a nuclear winter. It would create rain
There are processes at work in the world we have not begun to imagine, let alone look for. It is easier to believe what you hear than to imagine. It is obvious that science is dead, and that television killed it. Gone are the days when something had to be proven to be accepted. I worry about my children's future. I worry about death, taxes, and the constant lowering of moral values. I don't worry about the Earth, it can take care of itself.
(* reference: Chemistry An Experimental Science. W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.1963.)
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