Archive | Ozone Depletion

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U.S. and India to Reduce Use of Hydrofluorocarbons

Posted on 06 July 2016 by Jerry

The United States and India reached a far ranging agreement. President Modi of India and President Obama of the U.S. met at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday June 7, 2016. Continuing the world’s progress on replenishing the planet’s ozone, the two countries agreed to modify the Montreal Protocol for India to have an earlier beginning to stop use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) in its air conditioners.

This would change a clause in the Montreal Protocol that specifies a much longer phase-out period for the air conditioning and refrigerator chemical for developing countries that include India. The expectation is that India’s sale of air conditioning and refrigerators will grow significantly matching the growth of the middle class in India. India’s middle class is expected to burgeon in the near future as a sign of India’s growing wealth.

An article in the June 7, 2016 Washington Post states, “India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, and HFCs have a global warming power thousands of time greater than carbon dioxide.” It was mentioned in earlier articles on this blog ( )( that there was a loophole in the Montreal Accord and that HFCs are important for control of global warming as well as the disintegration of ozone.

Progress in eliminating the loophole of the Montreal Accord would come from an amendment to the Accord itself. Modifying the agreement will happen in October of this year in Rwanda. That is the next time countries that are parties to the Montreal Accord will meet. This amendment would also provide funds for developing countries included in the loophole to get a new generation of air conditioners and/or refrigerators for their use.

Another important reason for an agreement between the two countries is that the commitments made recently by countries fighting climate change do not go into effect without 55% of global emissions being represented by countries ready to ratify the agreement. India agreed to ratify the agreement. This agreement puts them over the 55% goal with India’s 4.1% of global emissions and puts these commitments into effect.

As a major architect of this climate change agreement we constructed the agreement to go into effect by going over the 55% goal. This means the U.S. or Obama can now ratify the treaty without congressional involvement. It is then clear the U.S. will now ratify the agreement.

A Guardian article that appeared on June 7, 2016 stated, “Though the two countries said engineering and site development work was starting on six nuclear reactors that US-based Westinghouse Electric Co wants to build in India, there was no agreement about the major unresolved issue: cost and financing. Instead, the countries said only that they had agreed to finish the contractual arrangements by June 2017.

The Washington Post article of June 7, 2016 about the nuclear reactor issues further stated, “On the nuclear power front, Westinghouse Electric (now owned by Toshiba) has been negotiating with India in the hopes of selling it six AP-1000 nuclear reactors. The project site was recently moved to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where site preparation is underway.”­

The same article further said, “Westinghouse and General Electric’s nuclear arm have been striving to reach a deal with India for more than a decade, and in 2008 Congress approved an agreement to promote nuclear cooperation with India, which critics said undermined half a century of U.S. nonproliferation efforts.”

As can be seen from these reports the Modi/Obama meeting was superbly timed to accomplish multiple objectives. This shows that the Obama administration’s timing is impeccable, knocking off multiple objectives in a single meeting.

In one fell swoop we made significant progress in both the areas of ozone depletion and climate change at a cost of some support for nuclear power in India. This shows we have an administration that is continuing to make progress against some big objectives. We should be heartened by this progress and be optimistic about our future.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents used in preparation of this article.’s-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/ar-BBtYJ6n?srcref=rss


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Ozone Progress but India Pollutes China, U.S.

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Jerry

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, effective a little over 25 years ago has been labeled the most successful international agreement in history. Since the banning of substances that destroy the ozone in the upper atmosphere, we have seen concrete improvement or slight shrinkage of the Ozone Hole over the South Pole.

The agreement banned substances used in refrigeration (air conditioning, freezers, etc.) to do away with the ozone hole. Unfortunately, many of the substitutes, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while sparing the ozone, “have a substantial global warming potential.” So says a July 31, 2015 article released by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD).

The article speaks to efforts to get the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), the group of nations that have been meeting to monitor the original Montreal agreement, to take on the management of the elimination of the HFCs. This would put these parties directly in the middle of the climate change problem.

What gives this move its impetus in part is a working paper issued by the IGSD that says that a quick elimination by 2020 of these HFCs could prevent half a degree of world temperature rise by the year 2100. This is viewed as a significant contribution to progress of efforts to control global warming.

Once again there was disagreement over how best to tackle the issue. Whether it was best to deal with the HFCs in this group or give the issue to those organizations fighting climate change. The last few meetings of this group showed promise when several nations changed their positions. Led by India these countries put forward proposals to confront the problem. Pakistan however, blocked adoption of any one of the four different plans presented by stating that none of the substitutes for the HFCs would be an effective refrigerant against the heat in their country.

At the same time a report published in Nature magazine in its August 10, 2015 issue blamed pollution wafting across the ocean from India and China as the reason the West Coast of the U.S.A. has not made any progress in lowering the ozone pollutants in its atmosphere.  Citing the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory that undertook the study, Nature reported that this Chinese pollution was the reason the Western states of the USA showed no lessening of its atmospheric pollutants after reducing its production of ozone-forming pollutants by 21 percent between 2005 and 2010.

NASAs JPL said in its release that “Scientists from the Netherlands and from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California looked at ozone in the mid-troposphere, about 10,000 to 30,000 feet (3 to 9 kilometers) above ground level….In the mid-troposphere, ozone has a measurable greenhouse effect.”

Finally, scientists have reported on the Nature Geoscience web site on February 16, 2015 that they have discovered that a very short-lived substance, less than six months, is a significant contributor to the destruction of ozone. This article says, “Halogens released from long-lived anthropogenic substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons, are the principal cause of recent depletion of stratospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas.”

Their research results, “Show atmospheric levels of dichloromethane, a short-lived chlorine substance not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, are rapidly increasing. We conclude that potential further significant increases in the atmospheric abundance of short-lived halogen substances, through changing natural processes or continued anthropogenic emissions, could be important for future climate.”

We are seeing unprecedented success to keep the benefits of our ozone depletion fighting efforts. In fact, the choices our scientists have selected are contributing to climate change and they are being pressed into service to start helping with climate change as well.

At the same time we see that our world is interdependent. Our weather and the continued effort are worldwide phenomena and our responsibility. We see that India pollutes China that in turn pollutes the West Coast of the U.S. We also understand there is another chemical that needs to be covered by the Montreal Protocol in order to continue our progress against ozone destruction.

We must not forget the ozone depletion and the danger an ozone hole represents to life on earth. We must continue our forward movement. We must also continue to support those scientists and countries that are fighting to protect our ozone.

Use the following links to access additional information or the original documents used to formulate this article. (Scroll down on right to this article)

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The More We Understand Ozone, the Less We Know

Posted on 29 December 2013 by Jerry

The Ozone Hole over the Antarctic in 2013 was slightly smaller than the average sized hole in recent decades.  This has led some scientists to believe we are beginning to see proof that the world’s ozone depletion has leveled off with the first signs of improvement.

Most of the world’s scientists are more cautious however, pegging the first date for when we will see tangible evidence of healing at a decade from now.  At that projected rate, full recovery will not occur until 2070.

In the short term there are annual fluctuations in the size of the hole that have puzzled scientists.  For instance while the size of the 2011 ozone hole was almost as big as that in 2006, which was the largest hole on record, the size of the ozone hole in 2012 was the second smallest on record.

Recent studies indicate that weather patterns play a more important role in the size of the hole in any given year than previously thought.  Dr. Susan Strahan of Nasa’s Goddard Space Center in Maryland said, “We have identified another factor that wasn’t fully recognized before: and that is how much ozone gets brought to the polar regions in the first place, by the winds.”

This revelation has forced scientists to come up with an alternate explanation of the annual size of the ozone hole.  Their analysis is that it depends on the various layers of the stratosphere that are involved and the wind’s influence.  Scientists believe that the more ozone is blown into the lower stratosphere there is a greater supply to destroy and the hole looks bigger.  They believe this is what happened in 2006.

In 2011 the winds blew less ozone into the lower stratosphere so the ozone there was destroyed more quickly making the hole look bigger.  The scientists theorize that in 2012 the ozone was pushed into the upper stratosphere that masks the hole below and makes it look smaller.

This is not our first miscalculation.  When we originally attacked our ozone problem, we were not as sensitive to climate change as we are now.  Instead we were intent on the signing of the 1987 Montreal Protocol addressing ozone depletion.  In order to protect the ozone, parties to the Montreal Protocol approved the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to replace the more ozone damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons.  Also, selected third world countries were left out of the agreement.  (See January 2013 posting, “Are We Trading Greenhouse Gas for Ozone”).

Unfortunately we have come to regret our endorsement of HFCs as an ecofriendly substitute for CFCs, HCFCs, and halon gas.  While HFCs do not contain chlorine or bromine and therefore do not interact with ozone, they are powerful greenhouse gases that over time could negatively contribute to climate change.  Two varieties of HFC are particularly troubling because of how long they last in the atmosphere.  HFC-134 has an atmospheric lifetime of about 14 years while HFC-23 has a lifetime of 260 years.

In 2013 President Barack Obama announced an agreement in principle with India and signed a formal agreement with China to work at eliminating completely the use of the banned chemicals CFCs, HCFCs and halon gas.  In addition, the June 8, 2013 signed agreement with President Xi of China specifically mentions the threat of HFCs and indicates a willingness to significantly reduce the use of these chemicals as well.

Although this U.S./China document and the accompanying agreement by the G-20 countries on HFCs do not specify concrete steps or binding deadlines they do represent positive developments in the formal recognition of the problem.  The positive sentiments to make progress are encouraging to those of us that continue to be concerned about ozone depletion and global climate change.

Also encouraging are developments by the world’s major chemical producers who have developed alternative chemicals to replace HFCs.  DuPont has specifically mentioned their new family of refrigerants, Opteons, as a suitable replacement for other, more harmful, refrigerants.

Use the following links to obtain more information or see the original source documents:

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Are We Trading Greenhouse Gas for Ozone?

Posted on 04 January 2013 by Jerry

Sometimes when you fix one problem you worsen another.  This appears to be what is happening with our use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as an ‘ozone-friendly’ replacement for Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrofluorochlorocarbons (HCFCs) in refrigerators and air conditioning units.  The  Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer which went into effect in 1989, banned the use in developed nations of chemicals (including CFCs and HCFCs) which destroy ozone in the higher atmosphere.  While the banned chemicals are also greenhouse gas causing, unfortunately the replacement chemicals, HFCs, are powerful greenhouse gases as well which will worsen our climate change problems.

A recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) stated “While these ‘replacement for replacement’ chemicals cause near zero damage to the ozone layer, they are powerful greenhouse gases in their own right.”  The report continued by saying “HFCs, many more times potent than CO2 , could account for up to 20% of emissions (by 2050) and hamper efforts to curb climate change.”  This means that while we are fixing ozone depletion we are doing it with chemicals which contribute to global warming.

Unfortunately, our world situation is worsening because we are using increasing amounts of banned ozone depleting chemicals in older air conditioners and the greenhouse gas causing chemicals in newer air conditioners,.  The demand for air conditioning and refrigerators is continuing its unrestrained growth as the developing countries get wealthier and the weather gets hotter.  Growth of wealth in countries such as India and China will continue to drive demand for products which essentially worsen climate change.

In a related area, the Montreal Protocol gave exemptions to developing nations allowing them to continue using CFCs and HCFCs, the ozone depleting chemicals banned in the developed world.  There are places where second hand appliances, like used air conditioners, wind up and are refurbished and sold back into in this case, the African economy.   One such place is Ghana.  Ghana’s energy commission recently reported that over 2 million used, offending fridges have been imported into Ghana from primarily the European Union.

While Ghana banned the import of used air conditioners in 2008, the government extended the deadline until 2013 because of the impacts on local refurbishing businesses which have become the destination for used machines of many kinds.  This includes “e-waste” appliances like used TVs, computers, etc. which contain, in many cases, toxic pollutants.  The government is finally imposing its import ban on used refrigerators citing their higher than normal use of electricity.

There are other alternatives that could be used in air conditioning and refrigeration but we now have a worldwide infrastructure producing greenhouse gas generating appliances.  Unfortunately, the remedies fall under the category of climate change and we have seen how difficult it is to mobilize the world to act.  We can only hope this is added to the list of areas needing attention in the climate change “Big Deal” that is scheduled to be negotiated in 2015.

Use the following links for more information:

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Ozone Holes and Record Heat: Good News….Maybe

Posted on 22 November 2012 by Jerry

The good news is destruction of the ozone and hence the size of the ozone hole over Antarctica has diminished to a point that is the second smallest of the last 20 years. Last year’s new ozone hole over the Arctic, which caused great consternation, has not reappeared and its stratospheric ozone appears to have returned to a normal range. This might indicate that the objective of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, signed twenty-five years ago this September, is beginning to be realized.  Or it might indicate that ozone holes, which depend on ultra cold temperatures in the stratosphere, do not form in the face of record heat and/or climate change. It is too soon to tell but any lessening of ozone destruction is a good outcome.

The National Climate Data Center Chief, Deke Arndt, reports that 2012, at the present rate, will be the warmest year in the past 100 years in the United States (see the video presentation on the third link identified below).  With 16 months of average temperatures above normal, this year will break records for the warmest March, the warmest spring, the warmest July and the third warmest summer.  The old records will be exceeded by a wide margin.

This year’s Antarctic ozone hole covered an average area of only 6.9 million square miles (17.9 million square kilometers).  The largest size of this year’s ozone hole was reached on September 22, when the hole covered 8.2 million square miles or an area the size of the United States, Canada and Mexico combined.  This is however, significantly smaller than the record ozone hole which encompassed 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers) in 2000.

While climate scientists do not have enough information to correlate the diminishing destruction of the ozone with the rising temperatures of the United States and the world, the possibility of a relationship is a reality.  In any case, the shrinking of the ozone hole(s) means the ultraviolet radiation humans receive is lessened which reduces the incidence of skin cancers and other maladies.

Use the following links for additional information:

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