Fluoroform

Fluoroform (CHF3, aka HFC-23) is industrially employed as a corrosive in the semiconductor industry, as a refrigerant, and as a fire suppressant. CHF3 is also a long-lasting (~228 years) greenhouse gas, 12,400 times as warming as CO2. Though supposedly being phased out under international treaty, China, and possibly India, are emitting more fluoroform than ever.

‚ÄúThis potent greenhouse gas has been growing rapidly in the atmosphere for decades now,” laments English atmospheric scientist Matt Rigby.

There were no fluoroform emissions in 1960. In 1980, 0.7 gigagrams (Gg) were emitted worldwide. That ramped to 13.3 Gg in 2006 before dropping to 9.6 Gg in 2009 over international alarm about the warming effect of fluoroform. The alarm did not last. In 2014 CHF3 emissions were at 14.5 Gg, which rose to 15.9 Gg in 2017, and continues to go up.

Fluoroform was originally hailed as the answer to the hole in the ozone layer which was noticed over the south pole in the 1980s from ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons. HFC-23 does not bash ozone apart. At the time, awareness of the potential for global warming to create planetary climate shock was not prevalent.

Fluoroform illustrates the difficulty mankind has in effectively addressing institutionalized environmental desecration. The global problem of industrial self-generated extinction cannot be solved in a world of nation-states, operating under the aegis of profit-driven capitalism.

Sources:

Kieran M. Stanley et al, “Increase in global emissions of HFC-23 despite near-total expected reductions,” Nature Communications (21 January 2020).

Matthew Taylor, “Study finds shock rise in levels of potent greenhouse gas,” The Guardian (21 January 2020).

“Emissions of potent greenhouse gas have grown, contradicting reports of huge reductions,” ScienceDaily (21 January 2020).