Understanding the Ozone Hole

There is a major flaw in the question of how to heal the ozone hole that cannot be ignored. It is simply this; there is no “hole” in the ozone layer.

Let’s look at the actual facts, gathered only after many years of research and study by many scientific disciplines.

First, what is referred to as the ozone hole isn’t a hole at all. No hole in the ozone layer exists. What is there, mostly over the South Pole though to a lesser degree also over the North Pole, is a seasonal thinning of the ozone layer in those locations.

Isn’t this a very bad thing? It might be, perhaps, if it was not for the fact that it has been going on for thousands of years. When it was first discovered, though, many people immediately thought that it was directly related to the activities of man.

To understand what is really happening, we must understand how ozone is created and destroyed.

Oxygen is a very reactive element, which means that it combines easily with other elements, including itself. When two atoms of oxygen combine, they form the oxygen molecule, which is fairly stable. If energy is added to the oxygen molecule, it can combine with yet another oxygen atom, it creates O3, ozone.

Ozone is very unstable and breaks down easily into an oxygen molecule and an oxygen atom. Even sunlight can break ozone down, and it does. Since, at the poles, for about 6 months there is next to no sunlight, and for 6 months there is almost continual sunlight, it stands to reason that the ozone would thin out for 6 months before again thickening for 6 months. This is exactly what scientists are saying is happening.

The perceived danger to the ozone layer is in chemicals such as CFC’s (Chlorofluorocarbons), Hydrogen Sulfide, and so forth, that combine with the free oxygen atoms, preventing them from being available to produce ozone. Use of CFC’s were banned in the US decades ago, but they are still being used in other countries. However, man has never been the leading producer of CFC’s and the other gases mentioned, not to mention the fact that it is difficult to explain how man could get them many tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere where they can interact with the ozone layer to begin with.

The leading producer of these gases, though, does indeed have the power to get them into the atmosphere that high; volcanic eruption. This is also why, during periods of time when there are particularly strong volcanic eruptions, there is a corresponding extreme thinning of the ozone layer that only gradually corrects itself.

So to answer the question, even ignoring the fact that there is no hole in the ozone, in order to heal something, that something must be sick. Considering the very short amount of time we’ve known about the ozone layer to begin with, and the vast amount of time that it has been fluctuating, we aren’t even a step toward saying if there is any real problem with the ozone layer.