4. The Changing Physical Environment

Cl + O3 → ClO + O2

ClO + O3 → Cl + 2O2

These expressions, while foreign to most of us, are simple statements describing one of the most profound occurrences of our age. In basic terms of chemical reactions, together they explain the destructive relationship between chlorine and oxygen in our atmosphere. When industrial chemical particles get released into the air, they float into the stratosphere, where they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation. These ultraviolet rays then break apart the chemicals and release chlorine atoms that destroy ozone molecules. Ozone in Earth’s stratosphere serves as the planet’s protective shield from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV-B and UV-C). When the ozone is depleted, more ...

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