"It is the unhappy fate of the scientist today that he must play the role of Cassandra in the body politic, sending his fellow men to bed with nightmares in the hope to be heard in time."

- Arthur von Hippel, in "The Molecular Designing of Materials" (h/t @upbeatprof)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sustainability through Chemistry

An interesting compendium of problems and solutions is in a slick 30 page pamphlet put out by the British Royal Society of Chemistry entitled "A Sustainable Global Society: How can Materials Chemistry Help?", h/t Phil Randall via Twitter. The Foreword concludes with an interesting exhortation, oddly straddling nationalism and globalism:
With the aid of materials chemistry, we can create a
world in which our energy requirements are delivered
sustainably, where usable energy can be produced,
stored and then supplied wherever it is needed.
We can minimise and remove pollutants from our
environment as we create new consumer products
which place less of a burden upon our natural
resources. While the challenges in each geographical
and political arena may vary, it is important that
national thinking not be limited to the challenges of
that country alone.

Many of these goals should be achievable within a
relatively short timescale, and will help to improve the
world for this generation and the succeeding ones.
Although financial investment is required, in the mid-to-
longer term this investment can be economically
beneficial, will create new, greener industries that
create sustainable jobs, and will ensure global security.
We must act now if we are to reap the benefits
materials chemistry can offer.


John said...

ONLY if we act now to totally revamp our economic system, and resulting pernicious mindset, of the absolute need of forever-increasing consumption, can even the most clever chemistry/physics hope to maximize the tenure of our species on earth.

John Puma

David B. Benson said...

While materials chemistry, whatever that is, probably can help, so far there is no good indication of any low cost replacement for burning fossil fuels.