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Australian Climate Madness

Friday, October 24, 2008

We're bored with CO2, let's find another trace gas to scaremonger about...

This time it is Nitrogen Trifluoride, which is apparently 17,000 times more effective at warming the atmosphere than CO2 - which makes CO2 look a bit, well, innocuous, maybe? Fortunately, there isn't much of it in the atmosphere at the moment, 5,400 tons.

"Isn't much" turns out to be the understatement of the year, because given the mass of the atmosphere is 5×1015 tons, 5400 tons works out to be 0.0000000001% of the total, and at the current growth rate it would take hundreds if not thousands of years to reach even one hundredth of one percent, by which time technology will have found ways to reduce its use. However, scientists are already gearing up to make NF3 the next evil trace gas:
Michael Prather, an atmospheric chemist at the University of California at Irvine, noted nitrogen trifluoride is being used more commonly and predicted that more would be found in the atmosphere.

"It is now shown to be an important greenhouse gas," Mr Prather... said in a statement. "Now we need to get hard numbers on how much is flowing through the system, from production to disposal."

Read it here.

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