Hi! This is an insightful and relevant
question. First a bit about what kinds of UV rays
ozone protects us against
UVA: Longest wavelength, lowest energy. Ozone does
not absorb this light.
UVB: Middle wavelength, middle energy. Ozone
absorbs some of this light.
UVC: Shortest wavelength, highest energy. Ozone
absorbs all/most of this light.
You may suspect that UVC is the most harmful,
and you would be right. This is because UVC light
has the highest energy, and living cells will
suffer damage if they receive too much energy. If
the ozone layer were not here to absorb this
light, life could not exist like it does on
Now let's talk about what ozone actually is.
Ozone is simply 3 atoms of oxygen bonded together.
The "ozone layer" has ozone (O3) along
with single atom and diatomic (two-atom) oxygen
molecules. UV light provides energy to break apart
an O2 molecule into two O's. Those O's
then combine with other O2's to make
O3, or ozone! We are protected from the
light because the energy is used to make a
chemical reaction happen.
Can we find another molecule to do this? Maybe,
but it is unlikely that we could create enough of
it to make a difference soon. Since the atmosphere
is so large, it would take a lot of gas to absorb
enough UV light to make up for what the ozone
When you hear people talk about an "ozone
hole," they are really talking about a place where
there is less ozone. It doesn't mean that there is
no ozone. There are many reasons this happens, and
we have stopped using things like
chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) because of the
negative effects on the ozone layer.
Here is a great article from NASA, which
answers 20 common questions about the ozone layer,
and also covers the chemistry of ozone and why
things like CFC's cause ozone depletion:
Here is one more resource that talks about the
ozone layer in relation to climate change:
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