Tag Archive | "HFCs"

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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.

http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/hfc-negotiations-under-the-montreal-protocol-inch-forward

http://www.mepielan-ebulletin.gr/default.aspx?pid=18&catigoryld=12&articleld=215&article=montreal-protocol-inches-closer-to-negotiations-on-hfc-phase-down (Scroll down on right to this article)

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n9/full/ngeo2493.html

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2015-263

http://phys.org/news/2015-08-china-exporting-ozone-pollution.html

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n3/full/ngeo2363.html

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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:

http://earthsky.org/science-wire/ozone-hole-2013

http://news.yahoo.com/scientists-still-waiting-clear-signs-ozone-hole-healing-202114771.html

http://www.epa.gov/ozone/defns.html

http://www.ghgonline.org/othershfcs.htm

http://www.epa.gov/ozone/intpol/mpagreement.html

http://www.rtcc.org/2012/09/25/hfc-phasedown-can-cut-100bn-tonnes-of-greenhouse-gases-by-2050-dupont/

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Stable Temperature Stokes Climate Controversy

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Since the start of the new century there has been no change in the world’s annual-mean temperature. Climate change deniers have seized upon this fact and our continuing addition of COto the atmosphere with no effect, to support their view that human beings are not causing climate change and a temperature rise.

A new study entitled “Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling” published in the September 19, 2013 issue of Nature magazine, attributes the pause in the climate change temperature increase to natural causes.  The research report prepared by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego states, “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”

The researchers successfully recreated our last decade of experience by altering climate models to reflect increased greenhouse gas concentrations, aerosol concentration and solar cycle changes.  When they added the known rise in sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, their model predicted as a normal climate variation what we are experiencing with a correlation coefficient of r=0.97 for the period of 1970 to 2012.

Contributing to the confusion about the stability of the world annual-mean temperature is the record heat waves in Russia in 2010, the U.S. in 2012 and Arctic sea ice reaching record lows in 2007 and 2012.  In addition we have seen record rains in Australia.  So much water has been deposited on Australia and absorbed into the soil that the overall mean global sea level has fallen by 7 mm.   When measuring the Earth’s gravity field around Australia there was a parallel increase in the mass of water retained on land.

In the meantime, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its most recent assessment.   Their report raises the level of confidence of a human caused climate change to 95% probability (up from 90%) and changes descriptors of the new likelihood to “extremely likely” (from “very likely”).  The report continues, “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level, and changed some climate extremes.”

Early circulation of drafts of this report have in part set the stage for new G20 agreements to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).  On June 8, 2013 the U.S. and China agreed to the progressive elimination of HFCs.

Readers will recall an earlier post on January 4, 2013 on this site entitled “Are We Trading Greenhouse Gas for Ozone?” in which we identified that HFCs were protective of ozone but very powerful greenhouse cases that contributed to climate change.  HFCs are many more times more damaging than carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  In addition the article cited the significant increased production and sale of air conditioners in China and India that use the HFCs as their coolant.  For a reprise of that article see http://www.iamaguardian.com/category/protect/ozone-depletion .

In January 1, 1989 the Montreal Protocol went into effect.  This was an international agreement to ban substances that destroy the ozone layer of the planet.  The central purpose of the agreement was to progressively eliminate chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that are very damaging to our ozone layer.  The assumption was that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) could be substituted for example in air conditioning and refrigeration and would not damage the ozone.  At the time there was no climate change or concerns about greenhouse gases.  The recent agreement corrects that oversight.

Finally, a new study reported in the August 2013 issue of Science magazine and other articles describe the process that is accelerating the movement of ice sheets and glaciers.  Scientists report that hotter temperatures are melting the surface snow and ice with the water draining down to the bedrock below.  This new layer of water between the soil and the ice sheets and glaciers acts as a lubricant that increases the speed of movement of the ice.  The faster the movement, the sooner they calve and/or break apart.  All of which shortens the lifetime of large bodies of ice that have been in place for centuries.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

http://scripps.ucsd.edu/biblio/recent-global-warming-hiatus-tied-equatorial-pacific-surface-cooling

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21574461-climate-may-be-heating-up-less-response-greenhouse-gas-emissions

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24080-how-an-ocean-went-into-hiding-in-australia.html#.UkHxR_GmQli

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/08/united-states-and-china-agree-work-together-phase-down-hfcs

http://www.iamaguardian.com/category/protect/ozone-depletion/

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-09-06/politics/41829108_1_carbon-dioxide-montreal-protocol-durwood-zaelke

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