For Starters, Global Warming
There are very few of us who haven’t heard of global warming. Whether you believe it exists or not, it’s fair to assume that the annual release of 140 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from air conditioning alone is bound to have an impact. Air conditioning runs on electricity, and most electricity is generated by burning coal, which releases greenhouse gases and creates acid rain. Coal is also often harvested in less than ecologically sound ways. I have a vivid memory of seeing strip mines in upstate Pennsylvania as a child. Even at the age of 9, I realized how devastating strip mining was for the environment.
In addition to the pollutants created by the burning of coal for electricity, air conditioners, whether during manufacture or use, still emit chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs may take a long time to get to the stratosphere, but the end result is the thinning of our ozone layer. A thinner ozone layer leads to higher UVB levels, which in turn leads to more skin cancer, cataracts and impairments to our immune systems.
If you are getting rid of an air conditioner for whatever reason, be sure to check with your local authorities regarding how to properly dispose of the unit. Also, if your home or car air conditioner needs repairs, make sure to hire a technician who has been certified by the EPA. The EPA has programs regarding proper recovery of the refrigerant used in air conditioning.