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[dupe] Banned Ozone-Harming Gas Creeps Back, Suggesting a Mystery Source (nytimes.com)
32 points by montrose 62 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments




I find this story fascinating. The specific gas, CFC-11 is like old school, produced in '86 banned by '96. There are alternatives that are better today and not banned. So who fires up an old chemical plant to make this stuff?


I seriously doubt it was a fired-up plant that manufactured the uptick.

More likely, I wonder if their model considers the natural decay of other chlorofluorocarbons, like R-115, R-114, or, counterintuitively, R-12. It's probably reasonable to expect that as those compounds break down, that R-11 could be an intermediate step.

Crushing up old closed-cell foam, old cars, old refrigerators, and old industrial plants are all possibilities if the above is not what's actually happening.

It's remarkable how we as a society have declared victory on our ozone problem, when in reality, it's not been fixed. Did you know that the UV index outside can actually go way above 12, like 45? Nobody measures this, but it happens.

Spending all day at the beach with no sunscreen hasn't always been insane, just since we started our experiment with refrigerants.


In the study they considered the destruction of things like foam and old refrigerant systems and concluded there was too much material for that to be the source.


> Spending all day at the beach with no sunscreen hasn't always been insane

Huh?!


My assumption is developing nations relive variations of the past of the developed nations, while adding some new mistakes of their own.

In the industrial context, there's a whole bunch of worrying things that had to be learned not to do the hard way but were probably obvious and emergent discoveries making them likely to recur without sufficient intervention/education.

At least our mistakes were made with relatively small population multipliers. Repeating them on the scale of China or India's population, there's massive potential for environmental harm the likes of which we've never seen.


The first thought that crossed my mind is bitcoin mines. Large mining operations using it as a better coolant.

Could be nonsense, though, if there are better coolants available today that are legal.


They would only do it incidentally while buying whatever cheap coolers, there's no good reason to seek out refrigeration systems that use CFCs.


The question is, is there a technical reason? Are modern refrigeration systems more efficient than CFC systems? If so, then it's a dumb idea. But if there's an actual efficiency gain to be had with CFCs... well.

This is not my field of expertise, and a quick googling didn't turn up really unbiased sources.


They aren't different enough to justify any hassle seeking them out.


Depends. It's not just efficiency, it's cost savings. If someone is running a large enough operation to save millions of dollars a year in cooling by using CFCs (assuming they're actually cheaper), and one is in a, um, lightly regulated industry (like Bitcoin mining) that uses massive power... well, that's a lot of justification. Small savings become big savings at scale.




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