Stable, nontoxic refrigerants changed the world, transforming food storage, expanding Sun Belt populations, even helping early movie theaters succeed. But they also wrecked the ozone layer — Earth’s shield against harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Today, as stockpiles dwindle — and prices rise — due to phase-outs set by the Montreal Protocols 30 years ago, the future of Freon and its successors remains in doubt.
The idea of a document that extends protections over subjects as they travel is old — as in, Old Testament old. But the standardized booklet that we now use for establishing identity and citizenship when crossing international borders has only been with us for about a century. More to the point, in the post-9/11 world, it’s become a lot more important.
In this article, I cover the ins and outs of how to get one, when you’ll need one, and what to do if you lose one. Along the way, I’ll pass along some travel tips, discuss passport alternatives and help you protect your children from abduction across national borders.
Like international waters, space is a commons usable by all but owned by none; but, unlike any earthly commons, space borders every country on the planet, and actual or metaphorical fallout from an incident there could spoil days — or destroy lives — anywhere on Earth.
So, who watches the spacemen? And what laws or treaties exist to protect us all? The answers might surprise you.