The widespread reliance on air conditioning in the US is explored in Eric Dean Wilson’s book After Cooling: on Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort. The book explores how air conditioning has become one of the most effective ways to cool off – and explains how harmful chemicals that make our lives comfortable also contribute to the climate crisis. The modern refrigerant – gas in fridges, freezers and air conditioners – was first introduced in 1930s in the form of a chemical called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), better known as Freon. This chemical escaped into the air over time, ripping a hole in the ozone layer. In 1987, a global agreement was reached to ban the production of CFCs – although every year an ozone hole reappears over Antarctica in October. HFCs, the chemicals that replaced the banned refrigerant, while not ozone-depleting, have 14 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Today, the most commonly used refrigerant in air conditioners and cars is HCFC, which has much smaller ozone-depleting potential.
Guardian 25th July 2021 read more »