in the general dialogue on global warming issues, it is my impression that talk of co2 predominates. from the evils of cow farts to coal plant emissions, we are consumed by attempts to reduce atmospheric co2.
i'm reading this terrific pop psych book (bill bryson's "a short history of nearly everything"), and its making me think again about CFCs
CFCs are a synthetically produced gas that, as an industrial product, went into production in the early 1930s and was used in everything from car air conditioners to aerosol cans. most of us remember this from fifth grade science. CFCs were prohibited from production in the US in 1974 because they are enormously destructive.
according to the book, CFCs are not very abundant (only constituting 1/billion of the atmosphere as a whole), but are "extravagantly destructive. One pound of CFCs can capture and annihilate seventy thousand pounds of atmospheric ozone. CFCs can also hang around for a long time -- about a century on average -- wrecking havoc all the while. They are also great heat sponges. A single CFC molecule is about 10,000 times more efficient at exacerbating greenhouse effects than a molecule of CO2...in short, CFCs may ultimately prove to be about the worst invention of the 20th century."
as i mentioned, CFCs were banned from the US in 1974. but they won't be banned from 3rd world countries until 2010. In the meantime, we're still introducing huge amounts into our atmosphere. according to the book, 60 million pounds of the stuff -- worth $1.5 billion -- still makes itself onto the market every year, mostly manufactured by large corps at their overseas plants.
my question is -- instead of worry about cow farts and other CO2 emissions, should we be relatively more concerned about CFCs? why are they a smaller part of the larger dialogue on global warming???????