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New Contributor III

Re: Chemistry & Sustainability in the News

The chemical industry is very energy intensive  -  in its direct use of energy and its raw materials. It is also a very innovative industry - both in finding process improvements and meeting customer needs - now clearly focused on energy savings (with resulting GHG emission reductions). The McKinsey report supports this.  I particularly appreciate its focus on life cycle considerations.  We will get the most benefit if everyone in the supply chain better understands how they can work together to reduce net GHG releases.  But climate change is just one aspect of sustainability.

Likewise, Adam Werbach is right that "green" isn't all that sustainability is about.  Nor, for that matter, is "green chemistry" in the Anastas/Warner model.

Sustainability is a way of thinking about problem solving that includes life cycle consideration of not just the technical issues, but also social and economic well-being. “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  [Brundtland version]   It's a HUGE concept that we are all still trying to understand and translate into action.  Chemistry holds a lot of promise for  new understanding and technologies to reduce adverse impacts to the environment.  But chemists, as do all people on the planet, must figure out how to work together toward achieving "sustainability."

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