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Air Pollution

Air pollution is a major concern in virtually every nation across the globe. However, experts don’t agree on the degree of severity of the issue. Those very concerned believe the heart of the problem of pollution in the air is the direct effect of ozone depletion due to air quality and poor emissions standards worldwide. According to science authors, an international environmental problem is one in which the environmental consequences of some economic activity are global or in which the state or non-state actors involved in the issue transcend a single region. They claim that clearly the depletion of the ozone layer is a global environmental problem.

Air Pollution

There are other scientists who believe that the effects of greenhouse warming are being exaggerated. Their claim is that little is known about the issue and they question public policies being made that affect world wide economic growth. The Heidelberg Appeal is a strong case in point. In April of 1992, 218 scientists from all over the world, published the appeal that stated: "emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.

Ozone depletion is caused by the reaction of various chemicals, including CFC's (Chlorofluorocarbons) and methyl bromide, with ozone in the upper atmosphere resulting in a depletion of the ozone layer. Concerned environmentalists state that ground-level ozone is a powerful respiratory irritant and a pervasive health problem throughout much of eastern North America. An invisible gas, ozone is produced when sunlight "cooks" hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides emitted from combustion. High ground-level ozone concentrations have been linked to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for asthma and other breathing problems. A study in southern Ontario showed that a 5 percent increase in respiratory hospital admissions was associated with a 50 part per billion (ppb) increase in ozone concentration. This effect was disproportionately more severe in children, whose admission rate increase exceeded 8 percent.

The history of this international problem begins in the early 1970's when scientists began to notice problems with the ozone layer and Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland demonstrated that CFC's and other chemicals had the capacity of destroying the ozone layer. In 1975 UNEP funded a study by the World Meteorological Organization on the ozone depletion. Soon after, in 1977, several nations united to encourage international regulation of the problem, including the United States, Canada, Finland, Norway and Sweden. From the very beginning public opinion and various nonprofit NGO's played a part in this issue. From 1974 to 1980 there were boycotts of aerosol products (which contain CFC's) in Canada. Nonessential use of CFC's were banned in Canada (1980) partly due to public boycotts. NGO's were also a part of the Coordinating Committee on the Ozone Layer, along with government organizations established by UNEP to determine the extent of the problem.

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