Activity Overview: Most of the activities and explorations within the Watt Watchers of Texas portfolio look at individual actions focused on conservation and sustainable decision-making. This activity looks at some examples of international law, treaties, and regulation that affect refrigeration and air conditioning all around the world.
Air conditioning depends on a pressurized system of fluid repeatedly evaporating and condensing within a closed system in order to absorb heat from the air inside your space. In the past, air conditioners used water, ammonia, or carbon dioxide. However, in order to adapt to higher demand for indoor cooling, companies turned to different chemical compounds and synthetic fluids in order to achieve better cooling efficiency.
Synthetic refrigerants improve the cooling capacity of air conditioning systems and require less energy to cool the air. However, when released from the system, these fluids have serious environmental effects.
Since the 1980s, the international scientific and political community has mobilized around protecting the ozone and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The oldest of the international protocols, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, is now more than 30 years old.
Ask students to identify a piece of international legislation or regulation pertaining to the environment, whether or not it was ratified or accepted by the United States. Some examples are included in a list below but consider encouraging students to explore other articles or agreements off this list, at the national, regional, or international level. Students should consult different legitimate sources to produce a short analysis, answering the following questions, as appropriate.
Examples of International Agreements and Regulations
There are no right or wrong answers to this activity. However, excellent work will achieve the following:
Select an Agreement or Regulation: Students should select an agreement or regulation, which intersects with the environment.
Identify Characteristics: Students should identify descriptive information about the agreement or regulation including but not limited to the questions listed above. These questions should be answered coherently and accurately based on the agreement or regulation selected.
Judge the Outcome: Students should collect and evaluate different observations of the effects of the agreement or regulation. Whether they synthesize these views into a positive or negative assessment, students should be able to justify their opinion with references to scientific or economic analysis.
Share the Results: Students’ analysis should be composed with an appropriate persuasive style and voice with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.
Cite Sources: Students should identify a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources to answer their research question. Sources should be referenced appropriately in their analysis and cited according to a prescribed citation style.