8 Jul 2008

Flat Screen TVs and climate change

As a blogger I get propositioned by various companies - recently one wrote: "...I am reaching out to you because the environment means a lot to you and your blog and I am hoping that this news might be of interest to you and your readers, primarily because my mysterious client, the sponsor of the below-mentioned contest, has a photovoltaic solar panel factory that is 80% carbon neutral right now with the ultimate goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral in the next few years through the use of solar and other energy-capturing technologies."

Photo: Local tree

All well and good - I even took a look at their game: http://apps.facebook.com/lifechangingbox

However things started to go wrong for me when they talked of the 20 prizes, including sporting events, trips, flat screen TVs, home theater systems, and more. I wrote back to them saying I was a little surprised that the client should be encouraging consumerism by rewarding high energy using TVs and home theatre systems. If we are to tackle climate change then we surely need to be challenging such consumerism?

They replied but the answer didn't really tackle why such prizes were needed - why not a free veg box for the year? Or rail tickets to somewhere? The evidence around flat screen TVs being damaging to the environment is growing. Apparently a chemical used in making flat-screen televisions has been found to be a potent greenhouse gas, 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

In a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, atmospheric chemist Michael Prather called nitrogen trifluoride, or NF3, "the missing greenhouse gas," and warned that the climate could suffer as the chemical is produced in ever greater amounts to meet soaring demand for LCD displays. If all of the NF3 produced in 2008 were released into the atmosphere, it would have as much warming effect as 67 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the study found - about the same as the annual CO2 emissions of Austria. NF3 isn't covered by the Kyoto Protocol because it was only being produced in tiny amounts in 1997 when the treaty was negotiated. Ironically, NF3 was developed as an alternative to perfluorocarbons, greenhouse gases that are governed by Kyoto. See more here.

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