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地球也得上了空调病

  In the ramshackle apartment blocks and sooty cement homes that line the dusty roads of urban India,there is a new status symbol on proud display.An air-conditioner has become a sign of middle-class status in developing nations,a must-have dowry item.

  在印度城市尘土飞扬的道路两旁,那些破败的住宅楼,和肮脏灰暗的水泥房子里,一件新近兴起的家用电器占据着显耀的位置,它是当地人新的身份地位的标志。空调已经成为发展中国家中产阶级的象征,婚娶之际不能没有的嫁资或聘礼。

  It is cheaper than a car,and arguably more life-changing in steamy regions,where cooling can make it easier for a child to study or a worker to sleep.

  空调比汽车便宜,而且,在湿热地区,可以说空调对人们生活的改善也显著得多——在凉爽的环境下,孩子们更易学习,工人们也更易入睡。

  The earth also has the cause of air conditioning disease

  地球也得上了空调病的原因

  But as air-conditioners sprout from windows and storefronts across the world,scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed about the impact of the gases on which they run.All are potent agents of global warming.

  然而,随着空调迅速出现在世界各地的窗户和店面,科学家们对空调制冷剂造成的影响愈加警惕,因为这些化学物质都是全球变暖的强力诱因。

  发展中国家对空调的需求在上升,正如在印度的孟买。这一情况引起了对全球变暖的担忧。

  Air-conditioning sales are growing 20 percent a year in China and India,as middle classes grow,units become more affordable and temperatures rise with climate change.The potential cooling demands of upwardly mobile Mumbai,India,alone have been estimated to be a quarter of those of the United States.

  在中国和印度,随着中产阶级的崛起,空调不再是一件奢侈品,而气候变化又使气温升高。因此,空调销售量以每年20%的速度增加。据估计,单单是在经济上升中的印度孟买,空调的需求量就相当于美国的四分之一。

  Air-conditioning gases are regulated primarily though a 1987 treaty called the Montreal Protocol,created to protect the ozone layer.It has reduced damage to that vital shield,which blocks cancer-causing ultraviolet rays,by mandating the use of progressively more benign gases.The oldest CFC coolants,which are highly damaging to the ozone layer,have been largely eliminated from use;and the newest ones,used widely in industrialized nations,have little or no effect on it.

  空调制冷剂最早是通过1987年的《蒙特利尔议定书》来进行规范的,该协议的目的是保护臭氧层。它规定,空调厂商须使用更无害的制冷气体,从而减少了对臭氧层的损害。臭氧层能够阻挡致癌的紫外线,是地球的重要保护盾。最早使用的冷却剂是氟氯烃(CFC),由于该物质对臭氧层极其有害,已在很大程度上被淘汰;最新型的制冷剂在发达国家已得到广泛使用,对臭氧层的影响甚微,或根本没有。

  But these gases have an impact the ozone treaty largely ignores.Pound for pound,they contribute to global warming thousands of times more than does CO2,the standard greenhouse gas.

  但是,这类气体会造成另一种影响,这种影响基本被这份保护臭氧层的协议所忽略。这类气体对全球变暖的影响是等量的典型温室气体,二氧化碳的上千倍。

  Indeed,the leading scientists in the field have just calculated that if all the equipment entering the world market uses the newest gases currently employed in air-conditioners,up to 27 percent of all global warming will be attributable to those gases by 2050.

  事实上,这一领域的权威科学家们计算出,如果全球市场上的所有空调都使用最新型的制冷气体,到2050年,27%的全球变暖都将是由这些气体引起的。

  So the therapy to cure one global environmental disaster is now seeding another.“There is precious little time to do something,to act,”said Stephen O.Andersen,the co-chairman of the treaty’s technical and economic advisory panel.

  这样看来,挽救一种全球环境灾难的良药,成了导致另一种灾难的毒药。“要采取行动,时间非常宝贵。”斯蒂芬·安德森(Stephen O.Andersen)说。他是该协议技术经济顾问小组的联席主席。

  The numbers are all moving in the wrong direction.

  目前,各项数据仍然在朝着不利的方向发展。

  Atmospheric concentrations of the gases that replaced CFCs,known as HCFCs,which are mildly damaging to the ozone,are still rising rapidly at a time when many scientists anticipated they should have been falling as the treaty is phasing them out.The levels of these gases,the mainstay of booming air-conditioning sectors in the developing world,have more than doubled in the past two decades to record highs,according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  替代氟氯烃的气体,统称为含氢氯氟烃(HCFCs),该类气体对臭氧有轻度损害。由于协议规定逐渐减少使用该类气体,很多科学家预计大气中该类气体的浓度应该有所下降,但事实是,它们的浓度仍在快速增加。这些气体是发展中国家欣欣向荣的空调行业所依赖的支柱。据美国国家海洋与大气管理局(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration),这些气体的浓度在过去的二十年中翻了一番,达到了最高水平。

  And concentrations of the newer,ozone-friendly gases are also rising meteorically,because industrialized countries began switching to them a decade ago.New room air-conditioners in the United States now use an HFC coolant called 410a,labeled“environmentally friendly”because it spares the ozone.But its warming effect is 2,100 times that of CO2.And the treaty cannot control the rise of these coolants because it regulates only ozone-depleting gases.

  更新的对臭氧层无害的气体在大气中的浓度同样在急剧上升,因为发达国家在十年前开始转而使用这些气体。美国的新型室内空调现在使用氢氟烃(HFC)作为制冷剂,名为410a,该物质对臭氧没有害处,因此被贴上“环保”的标签。但该物质的温室效应是二氧化碳的2100倍。但协议不能控制这类制冷剂的使用,因为只针对破坏臭氧层的气体。

  The treaty timetable requires dozens of developing countries,including China and India,to also begin switching next year from HCFCs to gases with less impact on the ozone.But the United States and other wealthy nations are prodding them to choose ones that do not warm the planet.This week in Rio de Janeiro,Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is attending the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development,also known as Rio+20,where proposals to gradually eliminate HFCs for their warming effect are on the provisional agenda.

  按照协议的时间表,几十个发展中国家,包括中国和印度,也要从明年开始停止使用含氢氯氟烃,代之以其他对臭氧层影响更小的气体。但美国和其他经济发达国家正在敦促发展中国家选择没有温室效应的气体。这周在里约热内卢,美国国务卿希拉里参加了联合国可持续发展大会(United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development),也被称为“里约+20”峰会(Rio+20)。大会的暂定议程中,就包括逐步淘汰氢氟烃类制冷剂的提议,因为这类气体有温室效应。

  But she faces resistance,because the United States is essentially telling the other nations to do what it has not:to leapfrog this generation of coolants.The trouble is,there are currently no readily available commercial ozone-friendly alternatives for air-conditioners that do not also have a strong warming effect—though there are many on the horizon.

  但希拉里面临着阻力,因为美国实质上是在要求别的国家去做美国没有做到的事情:跳过这一代的制冷剂。问题是,目前并没有一种现成的,可商用的空调制冷剂替代品,既不破坏臭氧层,也没有强烈温室效应——尽管有很多替代品即将问世。

  Nearly all chemical and air-conditioning companies—including DuPont,the American chemical giant,and Daiken,one of Japan’s leading appliance manufacturers—have developed air-conditioning appliances and gases that do not contribute to global warming.Companies have even erected factories to produce them.

  几乎所有的化工企业和空调公司——包括美国化工巨头杜邦(DuPont),以及日本领先的家电制造商大建工业株式会社(DAIKEN)——都研发出了不增加温室气体排放的空调设备和制冷剂。有的公司甚至已经组建了工厂投入生产。

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  But these products require regulatory approvals before they can be sold,and the development of new safety standards,because the gases in them are often flammable or toxic.And with profits booming from current cooling systems and no effective regulation of HFCs,there is little incentive for countries or companies to move the new designs to market.

  但这些产品需要获得规范批准,也需要制定出新的安全标准,才能销售,因为产品中的气体经常是可燃或有毒的。同时,现行的制冷系统利润丰厚,再加上对氢氟烃类气体没有有效的规范,各国和企业都没有动机把新产品投向市场。

  “There are no good solutions right now—that’s why countries are grappling,tapping in the dark,”said Rajendra Shende,the recently retired head of the Paris-based United Nations ozone program,who now runs the Terre Policy Center in Pune,India.

  “现在没有好的解决方案——这就是为什么各国都在黑暗中摸索。”拉金德拉·申德(Rajendra Shende)说。他之前曾领导位于巴黎的联合国臭氧计划,如今在管理位于印度浦那(Pune)的地球政策中心(Terre Policy Center).

  The 25-year-old Montreal Protocol is widely regarded as the most successful environmental treaty ever,essentially eliminating the use of CFC coolants,which are highly damaging to the ozone layer.Under its terms,wealthier countries shift away from each harmful gas first,and developing countries follow a decade or more later so that replacement technologies can be perfected and fall in price.

  已存在25年的《蒙特利尔议定书》被广泛认为是史上最成功的环境保护协议,因为该协议基本上杜绝了对臭氧层有巨大破环力的氟氯烃的使用。根据协议的条款,发达国家要首先停止使用一种有害气体,发展中国家在十年或更多年后跟上,使替代技术趋于成熟,价格也得到下调。

  Concentrations of CFC-12,which had been growing rapidly since the 1960s,have tapered off since 2003,thanks to the treaty’s strict phaseout schedule.In 2006,NASA scientists concluded that the ozone layer was on the mend.

  氟氯烃-12的浓度从20世纪60年代开始快速上升,但在协议严格淘汰计划的制约下,该气体的浓度从2003年开始逐渐减少。2006年,美国国家航空航天局(NASA)的科学家得出结论:臭氧层正在逐渐恢复。

  But that sense of victory has been eclipsed by the potentially disastrous growth in emissions from the newer air-conditioning gases.While a healthier ozone layer itself leads to some warming,far more warming results from the tendency of these coolant gases to reflect back heat radiating off the Earth.

  但是,由于新的空调气体排放量的增加,最初的胜利感也被这潜在的破坏所冲淡。完好的臭氧层本身就能导致一定程度上的变暖,但这些制冷气体反射地球辐射出的热量,从而引起了更严重的温室效应。

  When the treaty set its rules in the mid-1980s,global warming was poorly understood,the cooling industry was anchored in the West,and demand for cooling was minuscule in developing nations.

  80年代中期,各国根据此协议制定规则时,世界对全球变暖还知之甚少,制冷工业主要在西方,而发展中国家对制冷的需求甚微。

  That has clearly changed.

  这种情形显然已经改变。

  Jayshree Punjabi,a 40-year-old from Surat,was shopping for an air-conditioner at Vijay Sales in Mumbai on a recent afternoon.She bought her first one 10 years ago and now has three.“Now almost every home in Surat has more than one,”she said.“The children see them on television and demand them.”

  40岁的杰西瑞·庞加比(Jayshree Punjabi)来自苏拉特(Surat),不久前的一天下午,她去孟买的维杰电器(Vijay Sales)购买一个空调。她的第一个空调购于10年前,如今她有三个空调。“现在,苏拉特几乎每个家庭都有至少一个空调,”她说,“孩子们在电视上看到了空调,他们就会要。”

  Refrigeration is also essential for these countries’shifting food supplies.“When I was a kid in Delhi,veggies came from vendors on the street;now they all come from the supermarket,”said Atul Bagai,an Indian citizen who is the United Nations ozone program’s coordinator for South Asia.

  随着食品供给模式的转变,冰箱也成了必需品。“我小时候在德里(Delhi),当时买菜都是从街边小贩那里买;现在,蔬菜都来自超市,”阿图尔·巴盖(Atul Bagai)说。他是印度人,现在是联合国臭氧计划在南亚的协调人。

  In 2011,55 percent of new air-conditioning units were sold in the Asia Pacific region and the industry’s production has moved there.Last year,China built more than 70 percent of the world’s household air-conditioners,for domestic use and export.The most common coolant gas is HCFC-22.In 2010,China produced about seven times the amount of that gas as the United States.

  2011年,全球55%的新空调是在亚太地区销售的,空调的生产也转移到了该区域。去年,中国生产了全球超过70%的家用空调,供国内消费和出口。最常用的制冷剂是含氢氯氟烃-22。2010年,该气体在中国的排放量大约是美国的七倍。

  With inexpensive HCFC-22 from Asia flooding the market,efforts to curb or eliminate its use have been undercut,even in the United States.For example,although American law now forbids the sale of new air-conditioners containing HCFC,stores have started selling empty components that can be filled with the cheap gas after installation,enabling its continued use.

  随着廉价的含氢氯氟烃-22从亚洲流向各国市场,减少或停止其使用的努力即使是在美国也遭遇挫折。比如,尽管目前美国法律禁止销售含有该气体的新空调,但一些商店已经开始出售空部件,安装以后可以加注这种廉价的气体,继续使用。

  During a four-day meeting in Montreal in April,about 200 representatives attending the protocol’s executive committee meeting clashed over how to adapt to the changing circumstances.Should they be concerned with ozone protection,climate change or both?

  四月在蒙特利尔为期四天的会议上,约200个参加蒙特利尔议定书执行委员会的代表就如何适应不断变化的现状争论不休。他们应该关注臭氧层保护,还是气候变化?还是两者都要关注?

  As developing countries submitted plans to reduce reliance on HCFCs in order to win United Nations financing for the transition,delegations from richer nations rejected proposals that relied on HFCs,because of their warming effect.Canada raised a proposal that countries should use only compounds with low impact on global warming.

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  一方面,发展中国家提交减少使用含氢氯氟烃类气体的计划,以期获得联合国的财政支持;而另一方面,富裕国家代表团则反对使用氢氟烃的提案,因为这些气体会导致气候变暖。加拿大提出一项议案,要求各国只应使用对全球变暖影响较低的制剂。

  Phasing out HFCs by incorporating them into the treaty is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce global warming,said Durwood Zaelke,president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

  把逐步减少氢氟烃类气体的使用纳入条约是减少全球变暖最经济的一种途径,可持续发展与管理研究所所长德伍德·策尔克(Durwood Zaelke)说。

  But India,China and Brazil object that this could slow development and cost too much.All the acceptable substitutes under development for air-conditioners are either under patent,demand new equipment or require extensive new regulation and testing procedures.“This appears simple,but it’s not standard,and it imposes a new burden,”said Wang Yong,of the Chinese delegation.

  但是中国、印度和巴西对此表示反对,他们认为这会减缓发展而且成本太高。正在研发的所有可接受的空调替换产品,要么有专利保护,需要新的设备,要么需要大范围制定新法规和新的测试环节。“这看起来简单,但并不规范,还会带来新的负担,”中国代表王勇(音译)称。

  Said Suely Carvalho,the Brazilian-born chief of the United Nations Development Program’s Montreal Protocol and Chemicals Unit:“The developing countries are already struggling to phase out,and now you tell them,‘Don’t do what we did.’You can see why they’re upset.”

  巴西出生的苏里·卡瓦略(Suely Carvalho)是联合国《蒙特利尔议定书》和化学部的负责人。她说:“发展中国家已经在尽力逐步减少(这些气体的使用),现在你们却说,‘我们做过的事,你们不要再做。’你应该知道他们为什么不满意。”

  Commercial interests foster the stalemate.Though the protocol aggressively reduces the use of HCFC-22 for cooling,it restricts production on a slower,more lenient timetable,and as a result,output has grown more than 60 percent in the past decade.Even in the United States,HCFC-22 is still profitably manufactured for use in older appliances,export and a few other industrial purposes that do not create significant emissions,like making Teflon.

  商业利益造成了谈判僵局。尽管议定书积极限制含氢氯氟烃-22在制冷中的使用,但限制这种气体生产的时间表则缓慢、宽松,因此过去10年中含氢氯氟烃-22的产量增加了60%以上。即使是在美国,现在生产含氢氯氟烃-22仍然有利可图,可以将其用于旧的空调设备、出口或者是其他排放量不大的工业用途,比如生产铁氟龙。

  Politically influential manufacturers like Gujarat Fluorochemicals in India,Zhejiang Dongyang Chemical Company in China and Quimbasicos in Mexico(of which Honeywell owns 49 percent)have prospered by producing the coolant.They even receive lucrative subsidies from the United Nations for making it.

  政治影响力巨大的厂商比如印度的Gujarat Fluorochemicals,中国的浙江东阳化工机械公司,以及墨西哥的Quimbasicos公司(霍尼韦尔公司持有其49%股份)因为生产这种冷却剂而生意兴隆。他们甚至还因此获得了联合国的高额补贴。

  For their part,manufacturers are reluctant to hurry to market new technologies that are better for the climate,until they get a stronger signal of which ones countries will adopt,said Mack McFarland,an atmospheric scientist with DuPont.

  杜邦的大气科学家麦克·麦克法伦(Mack McFarlan)表示,从厂商的角度来说,他们不愿意急于在市场上出售环保的新技术,除非他们得到强烈信号,告诉他们各国会采用这些技术。

  Othmar Schwank,a Swiss environmental consultant who has advised the United Nations,said:“In many countries,these targets will be very difficult to achieve.With appliances growing in India and China,everyone is making money,so they want to delay this as much as possible.”

  瑞士环境顾问奥特马·施万克(Othmar Schwank)在联合国担任顾问。他说:“在许多国家,这些目标会很难实现。随着印度和中国的家用电器需求不断增加,大家都在赚钱,所以他们想尽量拖延时间。”

  The Montreal Protocol originally gave the developing countries until 2040 to get rid of HCFCs,but its governing board accelerated that timetable in 2007.“We saw consumption going through the roof,”said Markus Wypior,of the German government agency GIZ Proklima.The new schedule says developing countries must“stabilize”consumption of HCFCs by Jan.1,and reduce it by 10 percent by 2015.

  《蒙特利尔协议书》最初规定,发展中国家在2040年前停用含氢氯氟烃,但是该协议的管理理事会在2007年加快了时间表。“我们看到含氢氯氟烃的使用急剧增长,”德国政府机构德国技术合作局环境项目(GIZ Proklima)的马库斯·维皮奥尔(Markus Wypior)说。新的时间表规定,发展中国家必须在1月1日之前使含氢氯氟烃用量趋于稳定,在2015年之前把用量减少10%。

  But the industry is growing so fast that meeting the targets,which were based on consumption in 2009-10,would now require a 40 percent reduction from current use in India.Many countries,including India,are trying to satisfy their 2013 mandate with one-time fixes that do not involve the cooling sector—for example,replacing HCFC-22 with another gas in making foam.Meeting the next reduction target,in 2015,is expected to be much harder.

  但是空调产业发展得太迅速,要达到基于2009到2010年消耗量计算出得目标,就需要印度现在减少当前使用量的40%。包括印度在内的许多国家都在尝试通过一次性的措施实现2013年的环境目标,而同时不影响他们的制冷产业,比如在生产泡沫时用其他气体代替含氢氯氟烃-22。据预测,完成2015年的削减计划会更难。

  In the meantime,the Montreal Protocol has started using its limited tools to prod developing countries moving from HCFCs toward climate-friendly solutions,offering a 25 percent bonus payment for plans that create less warming.Experts say that is not sufficient incentive for the drastic changes needed in machine design,servicing,manufacturing and regulation.

  与此同时,《蒙特利尔议定书》开始利用其有限的方法来推动发展中国国家使用环保的方法来代替含氢氯氟烃类气体,为降低温室效应的计划提供25%的奖励性补贴。但专家表示,这种奖励不足以刺激机器设计,服务,生产和政策领域发生重大变化。

  Promising technologies wait,stalled in the wings.In China and a few other countries,room air-conditioners using hydrocarbons—which cause little warming or ozone depletion—are already coming off assembly lines in small numbers but have not yet been approved for sale,in part because the chemicals are flammable.

  前景美好的新技术在等待着,随时可以投入使用。在中国和其他不多的几个国家,少量使用碳氢化合物的室内空调已经走下了生产线,但还没有获得销售批准,部分原因是因为这些化学物质是可燃的。这些空调几乎不会导致升温或臭氧层损耗。

  Yet in Europe,refrigerators that cool with hydrocarbons have been in use for years,and some companies in the United States,such as Pepsi and Ben and Jerry’s,have recently converted in-store coolers from HFCs to hydrocarbons as part of sustainability plans.

  不过,在欧洲,使用碳氢化合物制冷的冰箱已经投入使用很多年了。美国的一些企业,比如百事公司和Ben and Jerry’s,作为它们可持续发展计划的一部分,最近都改装了店内冷柜不再使用氢氟烃,而改用碳氢化合物了。

  In a statement,the United States Environmental Protection Agency said it had recently approved some of the new climate-friendly gases for car air-conditioning and refrigerators and is“evaluating additional alternatives for other air-conditioning applications,”most notably a newer HFC variant called R32.

  美国环境保护局在一份声明中称其最近已经批准了一些新的不造成气候公害的气体,用于车载空调和冰箱。并且它“正在评估其他空调应用的替代制冷剂,”其中最值得注意的是一种叫做R32的新一代氢氟烃类气体。

  But when will they be on the market?Even small steps forward have been frustrated.

  然而,这些技术什么时候才能投放市场呢?即使细微的努力都受到了阻碍。

  Last year the European Union began requiring automakers to use climate-friendly coolants in cars,considered a relatively simple transition.A chemical called 1234yf was deemed suitable,and the tiny amounts of coolant in car air-conditioners make flammability and high cost less of a deterrent.

  去年,欧盟开始要求汽车生产商在汽车里使用无气候公害的冷却剂,这被视为一个相对简单的转变。一种叫做1234yf的化学物质被认为是适合的替代物。汽车空调只需少量这种冷却剂,因此可以降低对化学物质可燃性和成本的担心。

  But this year,the European Union postponed the plan:Chinese factories that make the compound are still in the process of obtaining government registration.The patent,owned by Honeywell,is being disputed.And the German government has still not finished safety testing.

  但今年,欧盟延迟了该计划。生产这种化合物的中国工厂依然在等待政府的登记注册。这项技术的专利目前为霍尼韦尔公司(Honeywell)所有,但仍存在争议。德国政府也尚未结束安全性测试。

  Said Mr.Wypior,whose agency is trying to promote climate-friendly air-conditioning industries in India and China:“The technologies are available.They’re well known.They’re proven—though not at scale.So why aren’t we moving?”

  威派尔(Wypior)的公司正努力在印度和中国推广无气候公害的空调工业。他表示:“我们已经具备了技术条件,大家对这些技术也都了解,证明是可行的——尽管规模不大。既然如此,我们为什么不行动呢?”

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