Natural Resources and Environment:
Turning Point for the Earth
Published: Jan 1, 1989. Publicly Released: Jan 1, 1989.
This article, which appeared in the GAO Journal, No. 6, Summer 1989, discusses the deterioration of the atmosphere, focusing on: (1) regional air pollution that causes acid rain and damages aquatic life, forests, and crops; and (2) ozone depletion through the widespread use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). The buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere threatens climatic changes through the depletion of the protective ozone layer in the atmosphere. Although industrial countries implemented an international agreement to cut CFC use by 50 percent, many scientists feel that a complete phase-out is needed by the end of the century. Activities such as burning fossil fuels, levelling forests, and producing certain synthetic chemicals release large quantities of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere, which traps heat close to the surface and raises global temperature. The biggest answer to the atmospheric problem is a transformation in energy technology, with increased energy efficiency at the center.