Climate threat still with us

Bangkok Post - Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fossil fuel use still intense, says Molina

Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry Mario J. Molina has warned of an increasing severity of climate change and called on governments to step up efforts to cut use of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases, the main cause of global warming.

Prof Molina said although the chlorofluorocarbons level in the atmosphere had been falling for the last 30 years, the Earth was still under grave threat from global warming due to the intensity of fossil fuel use, another major source of greenhouse gas.

A shift of energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy, installation of carbon-capture technology in coal-fired power plants, and development of energy-saving transport systems, were the best ways to cope with global warming, he said in an interview with the Bangkok Post.

Prof Molina co-developed the ''CFC-ozone depletion theory'' in 1974, which led to his winning the prestigious prize in 1995.

The theory found that the continued release of CFCs into the atmosphere would cause significant depletion of the ozone layer, which shields the earth's surface from damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

CFCs are chemical substances used in spray cans and as a cooling medium in refrigerators and air-conditioners.

The discovery led to global efforts in cutting CFC emissions, including enforcement of the Montreal Protocol, which regulates the manufacture and use of CFC.

He also called on industrialised countries to work more closely with developing countries in transferring energy-efficiency and greenhouse gas-capture technologies. He said the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters, including the United States, China and India, must commit themselves to cut their emissions and do more to help the atmosphere.

''The US does not need to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the global pact to combat climate change, but it is necessary for them to limit emissions,'' he said.

Although CFC emissions had fallen, atmospheric scientists would continue to monitor the condition of the ozone layer and make sure that no new ozone-depleting compounds were produced.

Currently a chemistry lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prof Molina is a keynote speaker of the International Peace Foundation's Bridges series.

He will hold a public lecture on the impact of human activities on the chemistry of the atmosphere at Chulalongkorn University today.