Months ago, Pope Francis made headlines for his criticism of air conditioning as an environmental menace, despite evidence that air conditioning has been a significant factor in helping elderly and poor Europeans survive brutally hot summers in recent history. Little did we know, then, that only the first volley had been lobbed in the “war on air conditioners.”
This week, EPA chief Gina McCartney declared that she would be the vanguard in the global fight against the menace of global artificial cooling systems, vowing to put an end to hydro-fluorocarbon-emitting air conditioners here and abroad as part of President Obama’s expansive plan to combat man-made “climate change.” Her efforts will begin in Paris at the UN conference on climate change set to take place in just under a month.
EPA Chief Gina McCarthy wants the world to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners and other consumers products as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming.
McCarthy is so determined to make this happen, she’s taking the lead role at an ongoing United Nations summit to expand the current global treaty covering ozone-depleting substances. The EPA chief hopes that her agency’s recent HFC regulations will convince other countries to join the U.S. in limiting the chemicals.
“Because of the importance of taking aggressive action on these chemicals to achieve global climate goals, I will be leading the United States delegation at that meeting,” McCarthy wrote in an oped for The Guardian.
McCarthy’s solution? She wants to replace the coolant systems in today’s air conditioners with more “environmentally friendly” options, but not as a result of market driven technologies, but through the EPA’s use of force. Along with the Department of Energy and other Administration offices, McCarthy has called on at least 20 companies to pledge allegiance to a new “HFC rule” forcing companies to produce lower-emissions air conditioning systems in the near future.
But McCarthy is already behind the market curve, if she’s actually concerned about air conditioning efficiency and not massive governmental regulation of a fairly open industry. Carrier, among others, have debuted large-scale refrigeration systems that are less dependent on what the EPA considers “harmful chemicals,” (and even recycle CO2 that’s been emitted into the atmosphere), simply because the market demanded more efficient, larger systems. Carrier is even looking into expanding their technology to refrigerated trucks. Wi-Fi and programmable thermostats are also helping to ease the air conditioning burden, but those are borne out of a need for cost-cutting solutions and individualized efficiency control, something Americans demand of nearly every appliance in their homes. In the first world, air conditioning is adapting with technological and personal need, and quickly.
Where HFCs seem to really aggregate is in the third world, but that’s where artificial cooling systems are most desperately needed. So, if McCarthy is interested in a global “response” the danger of HFC-emitting cooling systems, she’s going to have a disparate impact on the poorest among us, something most environmental activists fail to take into account when proposing such sweeping “solutions” to man’s impact on nature.
Even stranger, according to scientists, HFCs have little to no effect on the ozone layer, and have no recorded impact on ozone depletion. In fact, hey aren’t even part of the Montreal agreements McCarthy references. The most concerning aspect of air conditioner use, according to the National Geographic Society, is the electricity used to power them, a problem that isn’t solved by changing the chemicals air conditioners emit into the atmosphere. And even then, the “concern” is rather small. According to the Global Warming Action Committee, for an average New England home, which faces a number of seasons, the carbon footprint of air conditioning is 838 pounds per year. The President emitted 375.5 tons of carbon on his Earth Day travels alone.
Perhaps McCarthy could rethink her approach to HFCs and help the President to simply scale back on his air travel – a solution that would have an incredible impact on exactly the sort of carbon-emitting practices she’s so concerned about.