Think Twice

Greenhouse Gas Controls Needed for Flat-Screen TVs




Before trashing an older television in the holiday rush to modernize and make a statement, consider that flat-screen television technology has “a potential greenhouse gas impact larger than that… of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants,” according to Michael Prather, director of the Environment Institute at University of California, Irvine. This leading environmental scientist reports that flat-screen manufacturers routinely use nitrogen trifluoride, a greenhouse gas 17,000 times more potent as a driver of global warming than carbon dioxide.

While the industry claims little of the gas is released into the atmosphere, Prather argues that without regulation by the Kyoto protocol or similar controls, companies can get careless. Annual production of the gas has risen to more than 4,400 tons, and is expected to double by next year. Once released, it remains in the atmosphere 550 years.


Sources: Geophysical Research Letters; Guardian.co.uk.

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