Sloppy reporting in The New York Times

2009-05-26

in Science, The environment, Writing

In an article on refrigerants and climate change, New York Times reporter Irwin Arieff uses some rather misleading language to describe the warming effect associated with HFCs:

Environmentalists, meanwhile, say the shift to HFC-410A is only a halfway measure because the new refrigerant, while good for the ozone, still throws off heat, contributing to global warming.

As explained here before, greenhouse gasses (GHGs) do not cause the planet to warm because they themselves are warm or ‘throw off heat.’ Rather, they are opaque to the wavelengths of infrared light the planet radiates, and thus prevent some of that energy from escaping into space.

That said, it’s good to see that refrigerants are getting some attention as a category of GHGs, given how powerful they are relative to carbon dioxide and the special challenges involved in incorporating their management into an overall mitigation strategy. (See: Problems with carbon markets)

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