Kerry: Air conditioners as big a threat as ISIS

Of course, the biggest threat would be if ISIS was using air-conditioners.

But seriously, the Montréal protocol set out to ban a number of substances that were reported to be bad for the ozone. This banned several substances that went into air conditioners and refrigerators. When they banned those substances, the cost of air conditioning service for your car or buying a refrigerator went up. Those substances are called chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs.

Don’t roll your eyes yet. Stay with me. The replacements were hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs. In some ways, these substances are much worse for the environment. That was not known at the time. Secretary of State Kerry is going to an international conference to attempt to ban HFCs. Although previous efforts tried to protect the environment, they actually ended up making it worse.

The primary lesson is to avoid an over-reliance on science. There is still a lot that we have yet to learn. Don’t get me wrong. We certainly need the help of science, but it is sometimes wrong. Everyone has heard of food items that were once considered bad for you that are now okay and vice-versa. We must realize that science does not have all the answers. And sometimes it is just plain wrong. A good moral and ethical framework, plus a healthy acceptance of science, plus a little skepticism, is the best way forward.


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