The Other Greenhouse Gases

Carbon dioxide is the 900-pound gorilla of greenhouse gases. There’s little doubt of that, whether you’re tracking news coverage or policy measures.

But lately, some of the other beasts are getting more scrutiny. Reuters published a story last week that focused on nitrogen triflouride, a by-product of semiconductor manufacturing and a key ingredient in flat-screen TVs.

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego have been tracking the gas, which goes by the shorthand NF3, and concluded that the atmospheric load of the stuff is growing at 11% a year. What makes that a little scary is that NF3 is said to be 17,000 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, though over all it’s still a much smaller factor in global warming.

At the same time, Kirk Smith of UC Berkeley is taking his show on the road, with a lecture he calls “CO2 on Steroids.” It’s about the role that methane plays in the warming equation and what he believes are the opportunities to make relatively fast headway against global warming by attacking methane emissions. Smith will present his findings at the state air board’s Chair’s seminar series in Sacramento. You can watch a webcast of his lecture on November 10.

I interviewed Smith for an upcoming Climate Watch radio feature on the methane issue in California. Listen for it on The California Report in mid-November.

  • Chris Brown

    Add to this the fact that behavioral sciences are not considered part of the science of global warming, and we can be sure we are decades (at least) past the tipping point.