Damned If … OK, Just Damned
CFC alternatives contribute to global warming
When signatories to the 1989 Montreal Protocol phased out ozone-depleting, heat-trapping chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in foams and refrigerants, most replaced them with more-ozone-friendly-but-still-heat-trapping hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Too bad: HCFCs and HFCs will add the equivalent of 2 billion to 3 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere by 2015, according to the United Nations. “A massive opportunity to help stave off climate change is currently being cast aside,” says Alexander von Bismarck of the nonprofit watchdog Environmental Investigation Agency. Climate-friendly refrigerant alternatives like ammonia and hydrocarbons are, unfortunately, more expensive and less energy-efficient. The ozone layer, meanwhile, is recovering, but slowly — the World Meteorological Organization and U.N. Environmental Program predict that most areas will be back to pre-1980 levels by 2049, five years later than forecast in 2002. The ozone hole over Antarctica is unlikely to fully recover until 2065. By then, however, global warming may have killed us all. Sweet irony!