Sorry to be a kill-joy, but the rising demand for flat-screen televisions could have a greater impact on climate change than the world’s largest coal-fired power stations, according to scientists.
To make TVs, manufacturers use a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride, which is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Despite this, as the sets have become more popular, annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes.
The problem is that no one knows how much is being released into the atmosphere, according to Michael Prather, director of the environment institute at the University of California, Irvine. Prather’s research reveals that production of the gas, which remains in the atmosphere for 550 years, is “exploding” and is expected to double by next year.
Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Prather and a colleague, Juno Hsu, state that this year’s production of the gas is equivalent to 67m tonnes of carbon dioxide, meaning it emits the same as one “of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants.”