switch off that TV!

Carbon dioxide is not the only gas that worries climate scientists. Airborne levels of two other gases one from ancient plants, the other from flat screen technology – are also on the rise. And that has scientists wondering about accelerated global warming.

The gases are methane and nitrogen trifluoride… In contrast, nitrogen trifluoride has been considered such a small problem that is generally has been ignored.

The gas is used as a cleaning agent during the manufacture of liquid display television and computer monitors for thin-film solar panels.

Earlier efforts to determine how much nitrogen trifluoride is in the air dramatically underestimated the amounts, said Ray Weiss, a geochemistry professor with Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California and lead author on a nitrogen fluoride paper to be published next month.

The level of nitrogen trifluoride in the air has quadrupled during the past decade, said Weiss, who is also a co-author of the methane paper. Nitrogen trifluoride is one of the more potent gases, thousands of times stronger in trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

Sun Herald (Sydney), 26 Oct 2008 – screen copy held by this website