Student's Guide - Topics for Discussion
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Topics For Discussion

These topics are some of the many that scientists throughout the world debate. Each has its supporters and disbelievers, with all of their own facts to support their argument.

1.  Though the effects of UV rays may seem like all gloom and doom, there are beneficial aspects of these invisible wavelengths. Ultraviolet rays stimulate the production of vitamin D in the body, which helps to strengthen the bones, and safeguards against diseases such as rickets. New studies suggests that vitamin D also protects from internal cancers (like colon, breast, ovary, and prostate cancer). So it might turn out that the benefits of UV radiation are larger than their threats. Are people too deadset on eliminating UV that they do not know or care about these benefits? (Keep in mind that the amount of UV radiation required for Vitamin D production is only a small fraction of the amount that you will receive during a day at the beach!)

2.  When CFCs were first invented by Thomas Midgely in the 1930s, it was a major breakthrough in the industry of refrigeration. In 1987 alone, (the year the Montreal Protocol was signed, an agreement limiting the production of CFCs) more than one million metric tons of CFCs were sold for use. (Data found on The benefits of CFCs were apparent - not only was it effective, it was also seemingly un-reactive, non-toxic, non-flammable, and inexpensive. Many people resisted the idea of eliminating their production, as it would require possibly more expensive methods to be developed. (For further reading, click here, specifically Section 3, "Mid-1980s perspectives: Technological Pessimism"). Develop your own opinion as to whether the measures taken to reduce CFC production so quickly were justified.

3.  Though there is a general consensus among the scientific community as to the validity of the ozone hole depletion theories, it is not a universally accepted fact. One dissenter on the topic of ozone depletion is S. Fred Singer. Go to, and read about another existing view regarding the ozone layer, and try to find some misconceptions in his statements. For example prove that his statement "UV-B increases rapidly towards lower latitudes, by 5000% between polar regions and equator" is clearly wrong by comparing the UV Index observed at Antarctic sites with that at San Diego (Experiment 1 of the "Experiments" page). It turns out that noon-time UV levels at Palmer Station under the ozone hole can actually exceed UV levels at San Diego. 


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