Photo: Stock Connection/Rex/REX USA.
Environmental researchers are concerned about the newly identified greenhouse gas perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) and its potentially devastating effects on the planet. Though only properly researched now, the man-made compound has actually been around since the mid-20th century as "an unregulated staple in the electrical industry." Calling it the most "radiatively efficient chemical" to date (and thus, disruptive to the atmosphere in the long term), researchers are worried it will only worsen the conditions of global warming. According to the official study release, it breaks "all other chemical records for its potential to affect climate." It is even more damaging than carbon dioxide, which is the number-one greenhouse gas involved in human-related climate change.
"PFTBA is extremely long-lived in the atmosphere," said Angela Hong, a researcher at University of Toronto. "Calculated over a 100-year timeframe, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7,100 molecules of CO2." That's a lot of warming potential.
Before you panic, there is an optimistic angle to this situation. Though PFTBA is certainly bad news, it is currently "almost nonexistent" in our atmosphere compared to current carbon-dioxide levels. Fossil fuel emissions are still the biggest culprit in global warming. Drew Shindell, a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told The Guardian, "Since there is not a lot of it now, we don't have to worry about it at present, but we have to make sure it doesn't grow and become a very large contributor to global warming." (Mashable)