International Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer 2015
Ozone is a naturally occurring but rare gas and its molecules are made up of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone forms in the stratosphere between 10 and 50 kilometres above the earth (see Figure 3) as incoming ultraviolet radiation breaks molecular oxygen (i.e. two atoms) into atomic oxygen (a single atom). When a free oxygen atom encounters an oxygen molecule, they may bond to form a molecule of ozone (O3). Ninety percent (90%) of ozone exists in the stratosphere and the upper atmosphere. Ozone is essential for life on earth, as the ozone layer absorbs most of the harmful ultraviolet-B radiation from the sun and filters out lethal ultraviolet (UV-C radiation). The amount of ozone above the surface of the earth varies with location on time scales that range from daily to seasonal. The variations are caused by the stratospheric winds and the chemical production and destruction of ozone
The amount of damage done to the ozone layer depends on the type of ozone depleting substances or chemical used. The negative volume of a chemical depends amongst other factors on how long the chemical continues in the atmosphere before being broken down itself. The ozone depleting potential (ODP) of a chemical gives a measure of the ability to destroy stratospheric ozone. ozone depletion leads to excessive UV-B radiation. Excessive UV-B radiation leads to:
- More skin cancers and eye cataracts.
- Less productivity of plants.
- Loss of immunity to diseases.
- Adverse effects on plastics.
In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (resolution 49/114).
States were invited to devote the day to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the protocol and its amendments. The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.
The phase-out of controlled uses of ozone depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations, but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change; furthermore, it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) as the focal point for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, has a Constitutional responsibility to protect the right of all South Africans to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being, and to protect the environment through legislative and other measures that prevent, amongst others, air pollution and ecological degradation.
The theme for the 2015 celebrations is, “30 Years of Healing the Ozone Together.” The theme is supported by the slogan,“Ozone: All there is between you and UV.” The event will be hosted by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs together with the provincial and municipality colleagues.
2015 Commemoration of the International for the Preservation of Ozone Layer aims at reaching out and engaging learners on matters relating to the ozone i.e. UV rays in the sun, human health and environmental protection. In addition, the commemoration seeks to explore opportunities of inspiring learners to environmental protection career paths.
The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson will on the 16 of September 2015 host the International Day for Preservation of the Ozone layer, at Musina, Limpopo Province.
High school learners from grade 8 to 10 will be participating in the event through various activities such as a race and high schools competition. The competition will be based on Ozone layer protection (looking into the theme and slogan of the event mentioned above). There will be awareness campaign in 10 identified high schools a week prior to the event. This will be done in liaison with the Provincial Department of Environment. On the day of the event, the day will kick off with a 3-4km race/marathon where school leaners and community members will participate. During the event an awards ceremony will be undertaken for the race and schools competition respectively.