II THE CARBON DILEMMA

The Dark Side

Carbon is a key building block of our society and economy. However, its current utilization causes negative climate and environmental impacts.

Climate Change1,2

Simplified illustration of natural greenhouse effect
Grafik Erdatmosphäre mit Gase (real)Grafik Erdatmosphäre ohne Gase (hypothetisch)
Atmosphere with gas (real)Atmosphere without gas (theoretical)

Anthropogenic (man-made) emissions of greenhouse gases – in particularly carbon dioxide (CO₂) and methane (CH₄) – intensify the greenhouse effect and are therefore held responsible for global warming.

Diagramm CO2 Beeinflussung in Bezug auf Temperaturänderung

Impacts of Climate Change

Foto ÜberflutungFoto DüreFoto ArtensterbenFoto EisschmelzeFoto Klimamigration
FloodsDroughtaSpecies extinction3Ice meltingClimate migration

Resource Exhaustion

On “Earth Overshoot Day”, humans have used up all the resources the earth is able to regenerate in a year. Through an increasing demand for resources, this day arrives earlier each year which means that we are “consuming” more than one Earth.4

Grafik Earth Overshoot Day

Plastic Crisis

Plastic is essential to our daily functioning. To date, over 8.3 billion tons have been produced. However, plastic waste pollutes our environment. Less than 10 % of all plastic waste ever produced are recycled. The disintegration of a plastic bottle in the ocean requires more than 100 years.5,6

Foto Ocean Waste


The Dilemma

Can we utilize carbon without destroying our environment? Is it possible to achieve a balance?

Abbildung Waage Ausgleich Bedarf/Umwelt

Abbildung Waage Ausgleich Bedarf/UmweltAbbildung Waage Ausgleich Bedarf/UmweltAbbildung Waage Ausgleich Bedarf/Umwelt

Icon Glühbirne Wusstest du das...

Did you know that …

… through chemical recycling, waste is broken down into its basic molecules which are then synthesized to produce new products?


A Glimpse into the Future

The negative impacts of an unsustainable utilization of carbon will increase, as…

… the world population grows, prosperity rises …7,8   

Diagramm Entwwicklung der Bevölkerung 1959 - 2100 (Hochrechnung)

Diagramm Entwicklung BIP pro Kopf in 1000$ 2016 /2050 (Hochrechnung)

... and hence the energy demand ... 9

Diagramm zum Energiebedarf 1980 bis 2040

… as well as resource consumption increases.10 

Abbildung Zuwachs Rohstoffverbrauch 2011 / 2060 (Hochrechnung)

In particularly the demand for resources for green technologies – as replacement for carbon-based technologies – will increase strongly. The resources come mainly from countries which are politically unstable.11

Abbildung Rohstoffzuwachs 2013 / 2035 (Hochrechnung)

We need to think global and act local!


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References

  1. Nelles, D.; Serrer, C.: Kleine Gase – Große Wirkung: Der Klimawandel; KlimaWandel GbR, Friedrichshafen, 2018; pp. 8–9
  2. Spektrum.de SciLogs Home Page. Der globale CO2-Anstieg: Die Fakten und die Bauernfängertricks; https://scilogs.spektrum.de/klimalounge/der-globale-co2-anstieg-die-fakten-und-die-bauernfaengertricks/ (accessed February 20, 2020)
  3. Díaz, S.; Settele, J.; Brondízio, E.S.; Ngo, H. T.; Guèze, M.; Agard, J.; Arneth, A.; Balvanera, P.; Brauman, K. A.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Chan, K. M. A.; Garibaldi, L. A.; Ichii, K.; Liu, J.; Subramanian, S. M.; Midgley, G. F.; Miloslavich, P.; Molnár, Z.; Obura, D.; Pfaff, A. ; Polasky, S.; Purvis, A.; Razzaque, J.; Reyers, B.; Roy Chowdhury, R.; Shin, Y. J.; Visseren-Hamakers, I. J.; Willis, K. J.; Zayas, C. N. (eds.): Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; IPBES secretariat, Bonn, 2019. 56 pages
  4. Earth Overshoot Day Home Page: Past Earth Overshoot Days; https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/past-earth-overshoot-days/ (accessed February 20, 2020)
  5. Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND): PLASTIKATLAS 2019; 2nd edition; Möller Druck und Verlag GmbH: Ahrensfelde, 2019; p. 8
  6. Barnes, D.K.A.; Galgani, F.; Thompson, R.C.; Barlaz, M.: Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2009, 364, pp. 1985–1998
  7. Our World in Data Home Page: World population by region projected to 2100; https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/historical-and-projected-population-by-region (accessed February 20, 2020)
  8. PwC: The Long View: How will the global economic order change in 2050? PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 2017, p. 34
  9. Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR): BGR Energiestudie 2018 – Daten und Entwicklungen der deutschen und globalen Energieversorgung; 22; Hannover, 2019; p. 37
  10. OECD: Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060 – Economic drivers and environmental consequences; OECD Publishing: Paris, 2018; p. 4
  11. DERA Infochart: Rohstoffe für Zukunftstechnologien; selected results of DERA study; published 08.02.2018; https://www.deutscher-rohstoffeffizienz-preis.de/DERA/DE/Downloads/dera-infochart.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=4 (accessed February 20, 2020)