WEST LAFAYETTE, IN — Ozone depletion may have been the “poster child” of the environmental focus of the 1980s. But the new focus is on the “growing human influence” of global warming.

That was the perspective of a research physicist in a keynote address to more than 700 engineers and researchers at the three-fold compressor, refrigeration, and natural working fluids conferences here at Purdue University.

David Fahey, Ph.D., of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Research Labs, tracked what he called a “sobering success story.”

He noted that the phaseout of CFCs and HCFCs will help bring what he positively called “stratospheric halogen abundance” back to 1980s’ levels by 2050.

But the global warming issue persists, he said. Fahey labeled a half-dozen GWP suspects, including HFCs, which the hvacr industry has embraced as long-term alternatives to CFCs and HCFCs. Others listed were carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

“This is a modest list, but they are heavy hitters,” he said. It is necessary, he said, to “install brakes on the system and tap the breaks gently.”

He noted that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was one braking effort. But while the framers of the accord have signed off on it, it has yet to be formally ratified by all but a few island nations, Fahey said.

Getting control of the global warming issue is a daunting task, he acknowledged. “It is a highly complex web of relationships.” It requires, he said, international discussion and cooperation.

But he said humans have to solve the global warming issue, because humans are responsible for it. “Global warming is caused by the human release of greenhouse gases changing the radiative balance of the earth’s atmosphere.”

Publication date: 08/21/2000