When earth and space, physics and biology

When looking at the 4 units ; chemistry, earth and space, physics and biology we are informed that all of these branches of science are connected, but how? Using my inquiry skills which I developed over the semester I was able to answer this question by analyzing and the understanding the concepts for each unit. I decided to look in depth into the ozone layer since it plays a crucial role in a human’s daily life and it seemed as a very intriguing topic which connected to every unit taught in science. The ozone layer is a protective layer of gas molecules that is found deep in the stratosphere and it absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.-B (see figure _ in index).  The layer is made of ozone compounds with each compound being composed of 3 oxygen atoms and its atomic symbol being O3.

 Interestingly, the ultraviolet radiation that the ozone layer absorbs is what forms ozone! Since ozone is a special type of oxygen that is made with three oxygen atoms unlike the oxygen we breathe which has made two oxygen atoms. The radiation creates an electrical discharge which separates the two oxygen atoms (O2) in the molecule which causes the molecules combine with each other and other oxygen atoms creating O3. Each oxygen atom has 6 valence electrons which is why it is often found in a covalent bond  (O2) because as it are shares its electrons it fills the atoms outer shell with the maximum amount of needed electrons creating a stable bond (see figure _ in index). Since an ozone atom itself is unstable it almost instantly joins the covalent bond, making the bond coordinate since both oxygen molecules are getting their electrons from one atom. The ozone layer is light blue and the smell of the gas has been compared to the smell that occurs after a lightning storm. Ozone is relatively safe in small concentrations but in large doses it can cause nausea and headaches. It is heavier than air due to its vapor density of 24 and is more soluble in water than oxygen. Due to its chemical and physical properties we see ozone in many more places rather than just surrounding our earth.

It is used to purify the air in crowded places such as cinema halls and malls,  it also destroys that unpleasant death smell in slaughterhouses due to its strong oxidizing power. It’s high oxidizing capacity causes it to be used to bleach fabrics such as silk, ivory and starch. Ozone can be formed at ground level as well, this occurs when sunlight interacts with pollution. Ground-level ozone is a component to urban smog and can pollute the indoor air of your home if not monitored.When the chlorofluorocarbons composed of chlorine, fluorine and are broken down, chlorine is released which enables it to react with ozone and one chlorine molecule can destroy over a thousand ozone molecules, tearing the ozone layer apart.  In order for the ozone layer to recover the government took initiative by banning CFCs from products such as deodorants, hairsprays and certain refrigerators.

But if we want to completely diminish this issues, humans need to begin living more sustainably. Driving less is one step we take to help our ozone layer since it prevents dangerous by-products from fuel emissions such as nitrous oxide to be released from the air. Emitting less non-renewable resources into the air in general is the best way to help our planet ozone layer.  At this moment fossil fuels produce 85% of the energy worldwide and they release toxins into the air and cost a lot more than renewable resources. Coal for example costs $0.11 per kilowatt hour, nuclear power costs about $0.096 per kilowatt hour while hydro, a renewable resource costs about $0.064 per kilowatt hour.

Making long term improvements such as insulating your walls and ceilings can cause you to save 20-30% in heat bills while reduce the CO2 emissions that are emitted in our atmosphere. Turning your refrigerator down can decrease your homes electricity use by 20% as well.  Using less oils, natural gases and coal by getting locally produced foods for example create a big change in the environment since it contributes to less air pollution. It’s crucial to remember that not all energy comes from fossil fuels and there is always an option of calling your power company or visiting the” Department of energy’s buying green power” to switch to geothermal energy which is cleaner and healthier as its composed of sun, wind, and heat in the deep earth instead of used fossil fuels.Ozone depletion can occur from natural causes as well such as volcanic eruptions. In 2015 the hole in the ozone layer was the largest size its ever been due to the tremendous amount of eruptions releasing extremely reactive halogens in the air such as bromine and chlorine which got carried across the entire globe increasing the size of the hole.Data shows that there has been a general thinning of the ozone layer all over the atmosphere but it is depleted most over the mid-latitude. Australia which is a country on the mid-latitude has faced many negative consequences due to this depletion as there is no shield protecting them high UV-rays and overexposure of the sun can cause skin cancer because it damages the humans immunosuppression.

At this moment the country has the highest rates of cancer of cancer in the world, by the end of 2020 it is predicted 150,000 will be diagnosed with skin cancer. Increased UV radiation affects plant growth and productivity as well. Plants sensitive to UV rays such as califours, clovers and spinach undergo reduction in their leaf area, a stunt in their stem growth and their life cycle is affected as well since seedlings are extremely vulnerable to the sun’s rays and sometimes cannot transition into adult plants. The ozone layers impact on the reduction of plant activity creates a negative impact on the economy as well.

Less agricultural is being produced because of the sun radiation which leads to an unsuccessful crop season since there are less crops being harvested. The prices of these crops will go up because the demand for food will increase and and countries near the ozone such as Nigeria will be heavily impacted by this effect resulting in poverty and hunger in the country as well.Increased UV-exposure caused a loss of biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems as well as animals. The population of plankton, organisms that lie on the surface layer of oceans are threatened by the sun’s radiation.  They are a vital part of the food chain since many marine animals are dependent of the organism as source of food and if they disappear certain aquatic life can be at danger of extinction due to the imbalance of species in the ocean. As plankton population began to decrease the biomass of anchovies and sardines began decreasing as well, by the 11th century it is predicted 6-11% organisms population will decrease. There are initiatives humans mitigate these negative impacts that are occuring in the ocean. Downloading the “sustainable seafood guide” can inform you on what seafood you can eat without it increasing the damage in the ecosystem.

If you ever decide to get an aquatic animal as a pet never release it into the ocean or any waterway in that matter as it can be a factor of disruption in aquatic food chains. There has also been diseases in farm animals linked to the decline of the stratospheric ozone layer. Papillomatosis can be developed in goats due to excessive exposure of UV rays which can cause infectious cancerous warts to develop on all over the non-pigmented skin of the animal.

Animals cannot handle the extreme heat conditions in ozone depleted countries such as India, Iraq and Australia which explains the increase of heat stress and trauma in the farm animals. The ecological footprint caused by us humans sunburn to occur in denuded sheep and dairy cows. Sheep have enough pigmented skin to protect themselves from the sun but as humans strip the animal for its wool they it causes the risk of severe sunburn developing which can last upto 9 months.

Some plants are beginning to develop chemicals to combat the effects of U.V rays but this means that these plants are now dangerous to primary consumers since the chemicals may cause photosensitisation, which is an abnormal reaction that occurs all over the skin animals if infected. If the primary produce becomes unsafe for livestock to eat it can destroy the whole food chain since it can cause malnutrition in the animals which can cause them to die. Every plant and animal is crucial in a an ecosystem and if one disappears the systems biodiversity gets destroyed. The only way to prevent these issues from occurring is by taking care of our planet and realizing that our unsustainable ways are causing extreme amounts of pollution and destroying the extremely needed ozone layer. NASA’s recent technology has provided humankind with many benefits on how the ozone layer depletion impacts the earth and ways to to interpret how much ozone is in the atmosphere. They are launching a new instrument this year which costs about $350 billion dollars and can provide scientists with extremely accurate measurements of sunlight from above the earth’s atmosphere and information about the long term effects of ozone.

This technology the space station created also led us to make the greatest positive impact on the planet, the Montreal protocol! In 1987 the world’s greatest countries came together in Canada to sign theThe montreal protocol where they all agreed to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons in most items and eliminate other ozone depleting substances. This initiative has resulted in the ozone hole of the atmosphere to decrease in size by 20% over the last 30 years (see figure_in index). If NASA’s technology didn’t identify the hole in the atmosphere than 17% of the ozone would have been destroyed by 2020 and 67%  by 2065. The ozone hole had recently opened up above Canada, twice the size of Ontario and has quickly began to close up because the Canadian international space agency informed Environment Canada and now initiatives are being taken to reduce emitted fossil fuels in the country. Space technology does has its drawbacks however being the cause of 1% of the ozone depletion and as we continue to explore the mysteries of space more rockets will launched increasing the damage of the ozone layer.

Rockets release black carbon which pollutants gases and toxins in the atmosphere and breaks down the layer. There are dozens of satellites that have been built overtime and scientists have spent over 6 billion dollars analyzing the ozone which they are ironically destroying as they interpret what happens when is ozone layer is decreased.In conclusion I was able to able to demonstrate my understanding of science by connecting ozone to every unit that was taught in the grade 9 science curriculum and connect it back to the first overall expectations of each unit to support my ideas.


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