A version of this article was originally published on Leotie Lovely.
This might blow your dang mind (it blew mine), but we could reverse global warming by 1 degree as of 2050 by simply disposing of our refrigeration units correctly (air conditioning units, supermarket cases, refrigeration units).
Ironic, isn’t it, that the fastest and most effective way to reduce global warming comes from the very thing that keeps us / our stuff chilled. Silly humans, we suck so much at everything.
According to Drawdown (which I recommend you read), responsible action would save $902.8 billion net.
The greatest thing about this is that the tools and legislation needed to meet these goals are already in place, so doing your part as citizens does not involve huge lifestyle changes. You’ll probably only need to make the effort of disposing of your cooling units responsibly a few times in your life, and it doesn’t require much effort to do it good, green, ‘n’ right.
The refrigerants inside our cooling units, specifically chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) have actually been outlawed worldwide since 1987 with the Montreal Protocol (after we discovered a massive hole caused by them in our ozone layer) but because huge volumes of the units containing these atmosphere harming dinkles remain in circulation – and they hold the capacity to warm the atmosphere 1,000 – 9,000x more than carbon dioxide – the issues with our cooling are hot.
Drawdown states that “because 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life, effective disposal of those currently in circulation is essential.” Once the chemicals have been carefully removed, refrigerants can be purified and reused by being transformed into other chemicals which don’t cause warming.
Scientists estimate the Kigali accord (An agreement signed by 170 countries in October 2016 in which promised that from this year rich countries would begin phasing out HFCs, with middle income and low-income countries joining in from 2024) will reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit.
So what can you do?
- Properly dispose of your cooling units. Give away or sell your unit if it’s still working, and if possible, repair it and use it for as long as possible. When it’s truly out of commission, contact your local waste collection authority to properly dispose of it.
- If you need to purchase a new unit, make sure it uses the GreenFreeze technology. Instead of HFCs, GreenFreeze uses hydrocarbon technology; developed by Green Peace in the 1990s and made freely available around the world, GreenFreeze currently accounts for 35-40% of cooling units.
- Car air conditioners are one of the biggest sources of HFC emissions. When you’re driving, refrain from cranking up the A/C, or at the very least, don’t roll down the window while it’s on. Or better yet, why not just turn off the A/C and enjoy the fresh air?
- Watch out for hidden sources of HFCs. These include: foams, aerosol sprays, shaving cream, humidifiers, fast-food cartons and more. Instead of using hair mousse or a setting spray, why not find versions without a HFC propeller?
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