It's through sheer chance, and sheer chance alone that our ozone hole problem didn't become severe enough to guarantee our destruction. You see, the chemicals we used for everything back in the 70s, CFCs, are made from three elements: chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. Well, here's a little quote from Dr. Paul Crutzen, the man who first discovered the hole in the ozone layer:

"Had industry used bromine instead of chlorine in the chemicals used in spray cans and as solvents and refrigerants, we would have had a catastrophic ozone hole everywhere and at all seasons by the mid 1970s. The impact on the chemistry of the atmosphere would have been profound, and the consequences for life on the surface of the planet would have been severe. We avoided such a fundamental change in Earth's chemical mode of operation by luck rather than foresight and planning".

If you replaced the chlorine in chlorofluorocarbons with bromine, you have a new kind of ozone destroying compound known as a halocarbon, or a halon. This group of compounds is even worse to the ozone layer; Halon-1301 has 10 times the ozone destroying potential of CFC-13. Had industry chosen to use bromine instead of chlorine (and that would've been surprisingly easy) we would all have a rather bigger ozone problem on our hands.

We all can learn something from our lucky escape.

  • We need to pay more attention to what we spray into the atmosphere in future
  • The human race was actually lucky for once
  • Even if two elements have the same valency, it doesn't meant that they're interchangable
  • It could be your climate data going wrong, or the world going wrong, and you need to decide which it is before throwing the data away

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