A major risk for the planet

Although the effects on the environment of greenhouse gas emissions related to energy consumption have only been felt quite recently, their consequences are potentially disastrous.

When fossil fuels are burned, the carbon extracted from the ground as oil, gas and coal is discharged into the atmosphere as CO2. As a result, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increases progressively. Despite being present in relatively low amounts, the CO2 modifies the transparency of the air with respect to infrared radiation, acting like the glazing on a greenhouse.

This leads to global warming, a process which has already started and which can be expected to accelerate if the necessary measures are not taken in time.

As far back as the end of the nineteenth century, the Swedish chemist Arrhenius had predicted the consequences of an increase in atmospheric CO2 content on the increase in average temperature on the surface of the earth. However, the risks involved have only been truly understood recently.

Global warming now receives extensive media coverage and is discussed in numerous international summits. The actions initiated so far nevertheless fall well short of what is actually required.

Energy and Climate: How to achieve a successful energy transition Alexandre Rojey © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry ISBN: 978-0-470-74427-7

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