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Everything you know is wrong...?

It is the presence of oxygen in the high atmosphere and in the stratosphere that really protects us from ultraviolet radiation. In a very simplified manner, it works this way: Incoming ultraviolet radiation strikes and divides an oxygen molecule (O2). The two separate oxygen atoms are very reactive and quickly combine with other oxygen molecules to form ozone (O3). Ultraviolet energy is thereby absorbed and prevented from penetrating the earth's surface. As long as there is sufficient oxygen in the stratosphere and as long as the sun puts out ultraviolet radiation at the right wavelength, ozone will be produced. Several tons of ozone are produced every second, mainly in that part of the stratosphere that is 10 to 40 kilometers above the earth's surface.
In other words, if this is true, everything you heard about the ozone layer is wrong.

Basically, according to this:
  1. O2 (breathable oxygen) rises from the surface.
  2. UV ray hits O2 and is absorbed.  The energy from the ray causes the two atoms in the O2 molecule to split apart.
  3. The free O atoms join into O3 (ozone) molecules.  These are a byproduct of the reaction, and are not involved in actually making the reaction happen.
According to this whole thing, the hole in the ozone layer near Antarctica appears for a few weeks at the end of its winter, when there is no sunlight hitting the region, and thus no UV radiation to generate ozone. [edit]The absence of ozone doesn't mean that the spot isn't being protected--it just means that there hasn't been any UV in the area.[/edit]

The shorter version: the environmentalists lied to everybody, and the media and government bought it.

Well, either that or a few people on the Internet are talking out of their asses.  I'm certainly not going to rule that out, but I'd like to know if anybody's seen a debunking of this claim.  People?

Comments

( Read 10 comments — Leave a comment )
meagenimage
Jan. 13th, 2005 08:20 am (UTC)
It fits with what I learned about ozone in my chemistry classes. (Electric discharges also "split" oxygen molecules, hence why there's ozone around after a thunderstorm.)
nathanbp
Jan. 13th, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC)
Looks like it could be true, UV photons at 240 nm have the same energy as the O-O bond in O2.

I hadn't heard anything about the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica being time based, or about the coressponding hold that should have appeared over the North Pole if this was true. Also, it doesn't explain the hole in the ozone layer changeing size.
caduceuskun
Jan. 13th, 2005 06:39 pm (UTC)
As much as I remember of chemistry, it makes a certain amount of sense, except when you start taking stablity into account. O2, if I remember my orbital theory correctly, is a more stable compound than O3 (though both are generally labeled "stable"). Therefore, it doesn't make sense for O2 molecules to join with the single O atoms and become less stable; it would make more sense for the single atoms to reform bonds with other single atoms.

Of course, just because my hazy memory tells me that the theory works like that, doesn't mean it does. And even if the theory does work like that, that doesn't mean that's what's happening.

Incidentally, whenever something is lost, do you assume that someone stole it, too?
brentdax
Jan. 13th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
O2, if I remember my orbital theory correctly, is a more stable compound than O3 (though both are generally labeled "stable"). Therefore, it doesn't make sense for O2 molecules to join with the single O atoms and become less stable; it would make more sense for the single atoms to reform bonds with other single atoms.

Maybe I wasn't very clear in the explanation, but that's what they claim is happening. UV hits O2, splits it into two O atoms, then O3 is formed from the free O atoms. O3 apparently does break down pretty quickly (a few minutes, IIRC), which is why there isn't any ozone unless it's being recreated.

Incidentally, whenever something is lost, do you assume that someone stole it, too?

No, actually--I'm a pretty firm believer in Hanlon's Razor ("Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity"). But if this is true, the media's been telling us something other than the truth for our entire lives, and it seems like too large a mistake to attribute it to idiocy.
caduceuskun
Jan. 13th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay, that's more clear. Yeah, that totally makes sense.

As for the idiocy part, I find myself continually amazed by the levels people reach. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was a fairly small group of people who fucked up the research and no one ever bothered to do more studies. Who knows, though.
opt513
Jan. 14th, 2005 08:23 am (UTC)
If the media as we know it today had existed in the 10th century, they would have been telling us for our entire lives that the world was flat.
codepoetica
Jan. 13th, 2005 11:07 pm (UTC)
AFAIK, this jives with what I know as well.

I, however, didn't make the leap of "(O3) degenerates quickly, and must be replenished". It makes perfect sence for it to be a self-stabalizing system, generating an Ozone shield where needed, in a reaction to the UV light. Any history of holes generated during an eclipse?
nathanbp
Jan. 13th, 2005 11:08 pm (UTC)
After some googling, I can debunk that. UV light with wavelengths greater than 240 nm can't be absorbed by O2, but is adsorbed by O3. This UV light from the sun causes an oxygen-ozone cycle as the higher energy UV rays break up oxygen molecules and the lower energy ones break up ozone (3O2 + <200 nm photon -> 2O3 + <300 nm photon -> 3O2). The depleation of the ozone layer comes from CFCs which release clorine gas, which reacts with ozone in the reaction 3C2 + 2O3 -> 6ClO -> 3C2 + 3O2, preventing that ozone from adsorbing UV. The hole in the ozone layer above the poles comes from reactions occuring at the very cold temperatures at the poles that return clorine to the atmosphere. Plus, to further debunk this theory, the holes above each pole are most previlent in the spring, when your theory says the amount of ozone should be increasing.

Sources:
http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae300.cfm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_hole
http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/applychem/ozone.html
http://www.nas.nasa.gov/About/Education/Ozone/chemistry.html
brentdax
Jan. 14th, 2005 12:12 am (UTC)
Hmm, alright.

By the way "spring" seems to be local spring (Antarctica's hole is in September), which is just after local winter, when there's no light to cause the reactions. So I'm not sure that bit's actually wrong...

Hmm.
nathanbp
Jan. 14th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
Yes, but by what you said, Spring would be when light starting hitting the poles again, so the amount of ozone would be increasing, not decreasing.
( Read 10 comments — Leave a comment )