“And God said, let there be light and there was light and then God saw thelight, that it was good ” ( Genesis 1: 3-4 ). Undoubtedly, light is good.Without light man could not survive. Light is the ultimate cosmic force in thisuniverse allowing man to progress and flourish. In the form of heat, light fromthe sun warms the Earth. Light, also, is the single most important factorinfluencing the growth and development of plants.
Photosynthesis, a process bywhich plants incorporate light from the sun, allow plants to botanically growand survive. Certain forms of light are harmful and thus can be said are ‘bad’.A natural umbrella called the ozone layer protects the Earth and its inhabitantsby screening out this harmful light. For ” millions of years ozone has beenprotecting the earth ” by absorbing ultraviolet or bad radiation from the sun (Rowland, 1992, p.66 ). This natural umbrella protecting mankind has recentlysuffered the effects of industrialized society. This ” ozone shield isdissipating ” and the cause is laid primarily to man – made chemicals( Bowermaster et al, 1990, p.
27 ). If enough of these man – madechemicals are released, ” the ozone layer would be weakened to such an extentthat it does not filter out the sun’s invisible and dangerous ultraviolet rays “( Jones, 1992, p.36 ).
Such a scenario would drastically alter society and theenvironment. Ozone depletion has been described as ” potentialcatastrophe ” and ” a planetary time – bomb ” ( Way, 1988, p.9 ). The four mainareas affected by a depleted ozone layer and thus by the corresponding increasein harmful ultraviolet radiation are agriculture, wildlife, the environment, andhuman health. A depleted ozone layer has a profoundly negative and potentiallydevastating effect on humanity and its surroundings.
From an agricultural perspective, a diminished ozone layer poses greatrisks. Since man’s evolution from ‘man the hunter and gatherer’ to ‘man the foodproducer’ , mankind has grown ever more dependent on his surroundings. In thecase of food production man relies greatly on these surroundings. The land onwhich man attempts to grow food for himself, and certainly for others as well,has sufficed for thousands of years. The crops grown on his land have providedthousands with food to eat in the ancient world, millions with food to eat inthe medieval world, and billions with food to eat in the present world.Regrettably, there have always been times of hunger and shortages.
Morefrighteningly, in the present world man is confronted with a population boomwhich is burgeoning near the six billion mark. It is now more important thanever to protect, maintain, and hopefully increase the amount of food grown. Oneof the drawbacks of industrialization has been the significant depletion of theozone layer. This depletion could have an incredibly devastating impact on theworld and more specifically agriculture. In general, ” plants are quitesensitive and fragile when confronted with ultraviolet increases ” ( Zimmer,1993, p.28 ).
Words such as sensitivity and fragility only add to the urgency ofthe possible agricultural holocaust. One agricultural scientist remarked, “soybeans, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes, corn, beans, and wheat are all especiallysensitive to UV light ” ( Jones, 1992, p.39 ). Since most of the mentioned cropsare considered cash crops the economic aspect of lower crop yields could alsospell disaster. Food supplies are surely in jeopardy when taking in to accountthat ” more than two – thirds of the plant species – mainly crops – tested fortheir reaction to ultraviolet light have been found to be damaged by it ” ( Leanet al, 1990, p.97 ).
An increase in ultraviolet light radiating towards plantsaccelerates the pace at which man must decide what to do with the dilemma of abooming and more importantly hungry population. Conceedingly, plants, as anyelement of life, have been known to adapt to contemporary and dangerous changesin its surroundings but it cannot be dismissed that ” UV radiation can alsomutate the genes of plants ” which are the fundamental building blocks of alllife ( Bowermaster et al, 1990, p.44 ). Interference with the foundations oflife can also lead to calamity and more importantly a yet foreseen and unknowncalamity. In 1988, then U.S.
Interior secretary Donald Hoedel ” proposed copingwith ozone depletion by simply wearing