Move over CO2—you’ve been ousted, along with methane, as the biggest offenders of global climate change. According to a new a study by Purdue University and NASA, the major chemicals most frequently cited as leading to climate change, namely carbon dioxide and methane, are actually outclassed in their warming potential by compounds receiving less attention…
…The majority of the chemicals that cause heat to be trapped are used by industries worldwide. Based on the ability to trap radiation in the atmospheric window, chemicals such as sulfur and nitrogen flourides, perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) stand out. Chemicals like CO2, while harmful, don’t close the atmospheric window as quickly as these other compounds making them more dangerous.
So CO2 and methane are not in fact the worst chemicals, but fluorine-containing compounds are actually the worst. In addition, according to [NASA scientist Timothy Lee], “The compounds also persist longer than carbon dioxide and other major global warming agents. The concern is that, even if emitted into the atmosphere in lower quantities, the chemicals might have a powerful cumulative effect over time. Some of these chemicals don’t break down for thousands of years.”
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