Chemists around the globe warn of world food production crisis
- The report outlines five key areas in which materials chemists, through collaboration with other scientists, industry and policy makers, can seize exciting opportunities to address global challenges. They can:
- help to develop new, sustainable energy conversion and storage technologies that can meet future energy demands, and without increasing harmful emissions of CO2.
- help to reduce CO2 emissions by improving carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems and developing novel ways of activating and using CO2 as a value product for fuels and chemical feedstocks rather than waste.
- help to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and feedstocks by developing methods to efficiently obtain petroleum from low-quality sources, and processes to efficiently and sustainably utilise fossil fuel alternatives.
- help to reduce, replace and recycle the use of scarce natural resources in many applications, as well as developing alternative new materials based on earth-abundant elements.
- use the principles of green chemistry to meet our energy, material, and water needs in ways that are non-harmful and sustainable. New technologies can be developed to better monitor and remove air, soil, and water pollutants from the environment.
Nancy Jackson, president of the American Chemical Society, added: “Little public awareness exists about the uncertain supplies of these key materials that we face today, and the potential future shortages. Secure, adequate supplies of these materials are essential for production of food, medicines, computers, and hundreds of other products. Coming as it does during the International Year of Chemistry, the report demonstrates how the world’s major scientific societies can collaborate in addressing great global challenges. This is chemistry working for a better life.”
Professor Yasuhiro Iwasawa, President of the Chemical Society of Japan, said: “We are very pleased as a nation to be able to present the second CS3 White Paper during the International Year of Chemistry. Under the theme A Sustainable Global Society top chemists discussed problems facing the world and their solutions, and by publicising the results show the value of chemistry towards building a sustainable society.
“We believe that by pursuing the path of development of alternative energy, green processes, and conversion of scarce resources combined with resolution of food, water, and health issues, a truly sustainable society can be built. The huge earthquake of 11 March followed by the massive tsunami as well as extensive infrastructure damage can be called one of the worst calamities our country has ever experienced and has inflicted great suffering. The Chemical Society of Japan is with support from other countries resolved to apply the knowledge of the chemical community to contribute to rebuilding a strong Japan.”
Professor Markus Antonietti, leader of the German CS3 delegation, said: “This report is one of the most important I was ever allowed to contribute to. Addressing the very big tasks makes active scientists usually very skeptic, but I was impressed by the highest quality, the very constructive working atmosphere and the cohesiveness of values of all the present experts.
“In spite of the very different cultural backgrounds and societal value systems of the nations involved this is very special: it is indeed a global document, dealing with global issues. However, the depletion of scarce resources, remediating the pollution of air, water, and soil, or using the earth’s sustainable energy, all these are obviously topics where national, single-handed efforts are meaningless.
“Contrary to the ‘Club of Rome’, this report not only analyses the admittedly critical situation, it also offers positive proposals how to deal with the situation based on actual or near-by science and technology. One becomes clear by the end of the report: we have a chance to change course and it will be chemistry that will move global society out of the trap.”
Prof. Jiannian Yao, President of the Chinese Chemical Society, said: “Sustainable development is a strong voice of our time. It is also the mission of chemists all over the world. This white paper summarizes the suggestions on solving the global challenges in energy, environment and resources from a group of prominent materials chemists. It does not only provide perspective guidance for chemists, but also points out a roadmap of sustainable developments for the public. This year is the International Year of Chemistry. It is timely and necessary to release this white paper and I am sure it will largely increase the public appreciation of chemical sciences.”
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