Image Source: Flickr. By: Pmorgan.

We’ve all heard of super-heroes and super-villains, but did you know there are also super-greenhouse gases?

Recently, a rather serious issue was brought to my attention and now I am bringing it to yours. Lurking about our world are things known as HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). They are man-made gases used as refrigerants and can be found in a particular appliance that gives us much comfort during those scorching hot days: air conditioners. They are also rapidly increasing and causing much concern among scientists and conservationists. In fact, according to the Fifth US Climate Action Report, these HFCs are predicted to more than double by 2020.

There is some good news, however, and it’s known as the Montreal Protocol. Contained within this protocol is a set of guidelines (or rather, a phase-out management plan) for dealing with HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). Micronesia is now calling on this treaty to phase out HFCs and Canada, Mexico and the US have also submitted a formal proposal for the very same purpose. Negotiations for this will start in Geneva between June 14th and 18th.

If the HFCs are phased out using similar guidelines as those for the HCFCs, this is what it will entail:

“…Parties to this Protocol agreed to set year 2013 as the time to freeze the consumption and production of HCFCs. They also agreed to start reducing its consumption and production in 2015.”

Also, according to Durwood Zaelke, president of IGSD:

“We have climate-friendly alternatives that can eliminate one of the six greenhouse gases if the US acts aggressively. This would buy the world an insurance policy equal to a delay of a decade worth of CO2 emissions.”

It should be noted that if these HFCs are eliminated, it would be the equivalent of relieving the world of 125 – 209 billion metric tons of CO2 by 2050, or nearly 10% of the total global relief needed to avoid a temperature increase higher than 2˚C. Needless to say, if these HFCs are not aggressively eliminated or phased out, they might make up 1/3rd or more of total global warming.

We are already aware that Global Warming is a serious thing. We are also aware that some luxuries must be replaced with necessities, particularly for survival. The question is: what are you prepared to sacrifice for the survival of this planet?

By Heidi Marshall