- - Thursday, October 16, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Years ago, there was a hole in the ozone layer that was going to kill us all. Once the government banned aerosol hairspray and Freon, the stuff that made air conditioners and refrigerators work, the frenzy subsided. Now the government-mandated replacement for Freon, a chemical that goes by the name of R-134a, will end life as we know it. The White House is about to add the chemical to the list of prohibited substances, along with asbestos, anthrax and carbon dioxide.

Alarmism has consequences in everyday lives, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, observed in a recent speech at the Heritage Foundation. “For some on the left, climate change is simply a Trojan horse,” he said, “It’s an excuse for the government to come in and try to tell us what kind of homes we live in, what kind of cars we drive, what kind of lifestyles we can enjoy.”

Sweaty summer days and warm beer is what we’ll get if the latter-day Luddites are allowed to send us back to the days of the icebox and of cooling the car by the “4-55” method — driving with all four windows down at 55 mph.

The European Union banned the Freon replacement R-134a in 2011, but German automakers refuse to comply, saying regulators are playing with fire, not frost. Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz sedans, demonstrated that the government-approved replacement for R-134a, called R-1234yf, has a tendency to burn cars to a crisp in an accident. Furious Eurocrats gave Berlin an ultimatum. “Germany now has two months to take the necessary measures to comply with the Commission’s request,” the European Commission wrote. “If they fail to do so, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.”

The EU funded a study that finds the government-mandated coolant is safe enough. The engineers at Daimler disagree and say that the ideal coolant is simple carbon dioxide, the same stuff we exhale. It’s colorless, odorless and makes a great fire extinguisher. But it doesn’t fit well with global warming fantasies.

Bureaucrats have a bad track record of picking the right coolant. Regulators ought to sit back and let the engineers, the people who know what they’re doing, decide what works best.


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