Demand for air conditioning in developing countries hurts ozone

Remember when Britney had just broken up with K-Fed, and she seemed happy and healthy and getting her life back on track, and then things … took a turn for the worse? Let us draw a slightly strained analogy to the ozone layer. As ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons were banned in Europe and began to be phased out in the U.S., the yawning ozone hole seemed to be closing — but now demand for air conditioning in India and southern China is slowing the healing process. The main offending gas is refrigerant HCFC-22, which developing countries are allowed to continue using through 2040; experts estimate that HCFC-22 output in developing countries is rising 20 to 35 percent each year. Ozone-effing air conditioners are, of course, much cheaper than cleaner modern ones, and chemical companies dole out HCFC-22 willy-nilly to repair shops. Says one Mumbai repair-shop manager, “If it were something so bad, they would not legally sell it.” Oops, they did it again.