"And God said, let there be light and there was light and then God saw the
light, 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 this
universe allowing man to progress and flourish. In the form of heat, light from
the sun warms the Earth. Light, also, is the single most important factor
influencing the growth and development of plants. Photosynthesis, a process by
which plants incorporate light from the sun, allow plants to botanically grow
and 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 inhabitants
by screening out this harmful light. For " millions of years ozone has been
protecting the earth " by absorbing ultraviolet or bad radiation from the sun (
Rowland, 1992, p.66 ). This natural umbrella protecting mankind has recently
suffered the effects of industrialized society. This " ozone shield is
dissipating " and the cause is laid primarily to man - made chemicals (
Bowermaster et al, 1990, p.27 ). If enough of these man - made chemicals are
released, "the ozone layer would be weakened to such an extent that 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 the environment.
Ozone depletion has been described as "potential catastrophe " and " a planetary
time - bomb " ( Way, 1988, p.9 ). The four main areas affected by a depleted
ozone layer and thus by the corresponding increase in harmful ultraviolet
radiation are agriculture, wildlife, the environment, and human health. A
depleted ozone layer has a profoundly negative and potentially devastating
effect on humanity and its surroundings.
From an agricultural perspective, a diminished ozone layer poses great
risks. Since man's evolution from 'man the hunter and gatherer' to 'man the food
producer' , mankind has grown ever more dependent on his surroundings. In the
case of food production man relies greatly on these surroundings. The land on
which 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 provided
thousands with food to eat in the ancient world, millions with food to eat in
the medieval world, and billions with food to eat in the present world.
Regrettably, there have always been times of hunger and shortages. More
frighteningly, in the present world man is confronted with a population boom
which is burgeoning near the six billion mark. It is now more important than
ever to protect, maintain, and hopefully increase the amount of food grown. One
of the drawbacks of industrialization has been the significant depletion of the
ozone layer. This depletion could have an incredibly devastating impact on the
world and more specifically agriculture. In general, " plants are quite
sensitive and fragile when confronted with ultraviolet increases " ( Zimmer,
1993, p.28 ). Words such as sensitivity and fragility only add to the urgency of
the possible agricultural holocaust. One agricultural scientist remarked, "
soybeans, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes, corn, beans, and wheat are all especially
sensitive to UV light " ( Jones, 1992, p.39 ). Since most of the mentioned crops
are considered cash crops the economic aspect of lower crop yields could also
spell disaster. Food supplies are surely in jeopardy when taking in to account
that " more than two - thirds of the plant species - mainly crops - tested for
their reaction to ultraviolet light have been found to be damaged by it " ( Lean
et al, 1990, p.97 ). An increase in ultraviolet light radiating towards plants
accelerates the pace at which man must decide what to do with the dilemma of a
booming and more importantly hungry population. Conceedingly, plants, as any
element of life, have been known to adapt to contemporary and dangerous changes
in its surroundings but it cannot be dismissed that " UV radiation can also
mutate the genes of plants " which are the fundamental building blocks of all
life ( Bowermaster et al, 1990, p.44 ). Interference with the foundations of
life can also lead to calamity and more importantly a yet foreseen and unknown
calamity. In 1988, then U.S. Interior secretary Donald Hoedel " proposed coping
with ozone depletion by simply wearing sunglasses and hats " but what Hoedel
doesn't understand is that plants lack the ability to wear such human - like
possessions (Bowermaster et al, 1990, p.31 ). With an ever - increasing
population it is critical to act or react to the ozone depletion saga in
mankind's midst. More importantly there are and foreseeably will be even more
heralded environmental issues which need to be addressed. The ozone depletion
story can seen as a warning sign to humanity exposing the fact that the earth
can only endure a certain amount of hardship before it will surrender to the
onslaught of industrial might. One author explains the gravity of the situation
by pointing out, " There's only one atmosphere and once that is gone who knows "
( Cox, 1994, p.546 ). Agriculturally, a depletion in the ozone layer could lead
to economic and societal ruin for many.
In addition to having a profound potential effect on agriculture, a
depleted ozone layer affects wildlife in the same indiscriminate manner. Since
ozone depletion leads to increases in harmful UV light, it comes as no surprise
that this 'bad' light would affect the various forms of life on Earth other than
plants. Marine life is currently the most affected by increases in UV light
associated with ozone depletion. " There has been speculation that this UV could
cause a population collapse in the marine food chain, especially in
phytoplankton " ( Zimmer, 1993, p.28 ). Phytoplankton, are free floating aquatic
plants which " are the mainstay of the oceanic food chain " ( Lemonick, 1992,
p.43 ). Concerning phytoplankton, " it has been shown through laboratory
experiments that UV-A and UV-B do indeed inhibit phytoplankton photosynthesis "
( Zimmer, 1993, p.28 ). Since phytoplankton occupy such a strategic position in
the aquatic food chain, interference with phytoplanktic photosynthesis affects
the growth, development, and reproductive aspects of all marine life. Scientists
agree that " right now, the lowest levels of life are being hit hardest " by the
increase in ultraviolet light ( Rowland, 1992, p.36 ). If the lowest levels of
marine life, being phytoplankton, are oppressed by increases in UV light,
species relying on the phytoplankton for sustenance cannot be far behind in
suffering the effects of a ravaged food chain. One of the species which relies
on the phytoplankton is krill which are shrimplike - vegetarians of the seas
which in turn are a principle source of sustenance for whales and the like. If
krill were to be harvested as a food resource for mankind it has been said that,
" a krill harvest would provide us with the same amount of food as 10% of the
global annual ...
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"It discloses secrets; ratifies and confirms our hopes; thrusts the coward forth to battle; eases the anxious mind of its burthen; instructs in arts. Whom has not a cheerful glass made eloquent! Whom not quite free and easy from pinching poverty!" Initially, I wanted to write this paper on substance related disorders. However, in reading the t...
It is quite evident that as technology advances m the scientific sense, we as Americans are becoming more interested. One of the conflicts that have raised concern here lately is that on . By no surprise, one of the major questions of many is whether or not these foods are safe. As altered foods continue to be produced, we will begin to see much co...
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