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With best wishes from
May 22nd 2017
Story: Dubravka Delic
Illustrated by: Dusan Dimitrov
Sponsored by: VIP KIDS ltd
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Jane Smith, aged 8, lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has many friends. One day, while out playing with her friends, they talked about the summer holidays. Jane talked about swimming in the ocean, while Boris, Maria and John said they loved playing in the sand. “I don’t like sunbathing much,” Jane said, “but I get a tan anyway because I spend a lot of time in the sun.”
“You have to be very careful in the sun and use a lot of tanning cream to prevent sunburn,” a voice nearby said. Jane and her friends turned to see a little man, wearing strange clothes and a tall hat, standing nearby. He introduced himself. “My name is Zozone and I am here to help save the ozone layer.” Jane was puzzled, “What is the ozone layer?” she asked. “In the atmosphere, high above the earth’s surface, there is a layer of gas called Ozone.” Zozone said.
Jane was still confused, “Why have you come to save the ozone layer and what has it to do with sunbathing?” she asked. Zozone smiled, “Everything” he said. “The ozone layer protects all life on earth from the harmful ultraviolet (UV)
radiation given off by the sun. It works like a filter, absorbing and preventing these dangerous rays from reaching earth and without it we would all be in great danger,” Zozone said.
“Why is that?” Jane wanted to know. Zozone eagerly explained, “UV rays cause damage to our skin and eyes. If we are exposed to a lot of UV radiation, our immune system weakens. That means that our bodies aren’t strong enough to fight different infectious diseases.” Zozone said. Jane, Boris, Maria and John looked at each other. They were beginning to understand the importance of the ozone layer.
Zozone went on, “UV rays can also destroy plants and ruin forests and crops. They can damage farm products and cause harm to animals and fish. You see, UV rays can also affect ocean life because they can reach a depth of 20 metres in clear water. In countries where people eat a lot of fish, a major source of food will soon be lost!”
Zozone continued: “I also have to tell you that buildings, paints, packaging and countless other substances could be damaged by UV rays. The cost of such damage could run into billions each year!” Jane was astonished, “Wow! Aren’t
we lucky we have the ozone layer to protect us from the dangerous rays of the sun!” she exclaimed. Everyone agreed with her.
Zozone looked sad, “I’m really sorry to have to tell you this, but hole has developed in the ozone layer. This was caused by chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs for short, found in a range of products, from refrigerators and air conditioners, to aerosol cans and fire extinguishers. CFCs float upwards from the earth’s surface, taking about 8 years to reach the ozone layer, where a single CFC-molecule can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone.”
“In early 1985, a hole was discovered over Antarctica and scientists observe that it is getting bigger each year. At it’s peak this hole was as big as the United States of America. Northern America, most of Europe, northern China, Japan and even Australia, have lost as much as 6% of their protective ozone filter. So the harmful rays of the sun were able to reach Earth. We had to try to repair it.”
“What has been done to prevent this hole from becoming bigger?” Jane asked. “Well, governments of 196 countries have been working together to reduce the use of CFCs. They all signed so called Montreal agreement. But, you have to remember, that even if all such chemicals were banned tomorrow, we were still seeing ozone destruction throughout the next century because they have a long life and are already travelling towards the ozone layer,” Zozone said.
Zozon continued: “The scientists claim that ozone hole is reduced by 4 million of square kilometars since the time it was on its peak. But we still have to be carefull, as there are still lots of products with CFCs.” Jane was determined to make a difference: “We have to invent fridges and air conditioners that don’t use dangerous gases and we must tell our parents, relatives and friends to stop using CFCs and other substances harmful to the ozone layer,” she said. Zozone agreed, saying, “Next time you go shopping with your parents, remind them to buy only ozone friendly products. If we continue to take care of the ozone layer today, it will protect us tomorrow.”
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