Introduction If there were no ozone layer in the atmosphere above us, we and most other land-dwelling life forms would not exist. The ozone layer protects us all by preventing most of the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth's sueface. But now the ozone layer needs our protection because chemicals that our modern technological society has released into the atmosphere have depleted it.
Ozone layer depletion is a serious environmental issue, but it has been going on for several decades. The fact that it could affect the whole for a century or longer makes it even more so. By the time, it was discovered and the cause was recognized, a great deal of damage had already been done. As governments around the world came to understand that ozone depletion could have very serious consequences, they got together to begin planning protective action.
Global action is now proceeding along several fronts.
For example, scientists are doing studies to determine the quantity of ozone-destroying chemicals already present in the atmosphere, and to predict how long it will take these chemicals to drift upward to the ozone layer. Reseachers are developing safer replacement for the most widely used ozone-depleting chemicals. Medical experts are looking for way to minimize health problems caused by excessive explosure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Health organizations are conducting extensive public education programs. Issues such as ozone depletion are too important to be decided by any one group, whether scientists, politicians or economists. To make responsible decitions, our society will have to become environmentally literate.