Carbon Reduction for Sustainable Development
Carbon Reduction for Sustainable Development
-A way to Sustainable Development
Dr. Mohammad Ekramol Islam
Professor of Mathematics
Dean, Faculty of Business &
Treasurer, Northern University Bangladesh
Chief Editor, Journal of Business & Technology
Editor, Nature Study Digest
Carbon compounds have the great ability to form polymers at different temperatures and therefore, they form the basis of all lives on Earth. For the existence of life, energy is a must. So, the Carbon-Nitrogen cycle provides some of the energy produced by the Sun. In 1640, the Flemish chemist Jan Baptist Van Helmont (1580-1644) first observed Carbon Di-oxide to burn charcoal in a closed vessel. A.L. Levoisier. (1743-1794) proposed the name ‘Carbon’ in 1789 fr
om the Latin carbo meaning ‘Charcoal’. In 1815, Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) received a letter from some Newcastle miners, which told of the danger they faced from Methane gas. The gas often filled the mine and could be sparked off by the candle they used in their helmets to light their work. The resulting fire and explosion caused many deaths. Sir Davy separated the flame from the gas and introduced a new lamp named ‘Davy Lamp’ for mining, which became popular that time and was widely used. In the same year, George Stephenson, the railway engineer, invented a safety lamp for miners. Later in 1823, Humphry Davy and Michacel Faraday successfully liquefied Carbon Di-oxide at elevated (higher than normal) pressure.arbon is one of the very few elements known from the ancient time. It is the 15th among the most abundant elements in earth’s crust and 4th of most abundant elements on earth by mass, after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. It is the 2nd most abundant element in a human body (18.5% appx.), the 1st being the Oxygen.
Development can be defined as “The process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced”. For examples; (a) Transportation: It can be cars, buses, ships etc. (b) Consumptions: It can involve anything from packed foods, refrigeraton, frozen food etc. But this traditional development is not free from danger as for transportations or producing consumer goods requires energy, and if the energy came from the fossil fuel, may contribute to air pollution – a threat to human existance. We know, resources are limited and demands are unlimited, and it is true that, human beings play the main role in development. Therefore, they must be very conscious about their development as well as their existence in this World.
In 1779 Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) wrote “Famine should be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the Earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”
In support of Malthus’s philosophy, Professor Paul R. Ehrlich of Stanford University and his wife Anne Ehrlich have written a book entitled “The Population Bomb” in 1968. Later, they presented the ‘IPAT model’ in support, which can be represented as – I = P × A × T
That is, the impact ‘I’ of any group or nation in the environment is the product of its population size ‘P’, multiplied by a per capita affluence ‘A’ as measured by consumption, which in turn, is multiplied by a measure of the damage done by the technologies ‘T’, involved in another way.
Pollution = (Population) × (Goods/Pollution) × (Pollutants/Goods)
Relevancy of Development and Carbon
We have already mentioned that Carbon compounds form the basis of all known lives on earth because of their ability to form polymers at different temperatures. Food, cloths, shelter, health, and medication are the basic needs of human beings. For satisfying these needs, we have invented a lot of things including different vehicles, consumer’s goods, and residential infrastructures etc. Industrial revolution has the huge contribution to satisfy needs of the people and to make their lives comfortable. We are very much aware of the fact that the main motto of industrial revolution was replacing muscle power with machine power. But to run machines, we need energy or power. Producing power generates a lion share of Carbon compounds globally. The main sources of Carbon emission based on data of 2015 is given in Chart-1:
Chart-1: Main sources of Carbon emission
|Sources of Carbon||Percentage|
Electricity production generates the largest share of CO2 gas emission. Approximately 67% of our electricity comes from burning any form of fossil fuel, mostly coal and natural gas. Over 90% of the fuels for transportation are Petroleum based, which include Gasoline and Diesel – both compounds of Carbon. Carbon emission from industry occurs due to certain chemical reactions, necessary to produce goods from raw materials, and burning of fossil fuels for energy. It is obvious, we have a very close connection to Carbon or Carbon compounds for our development.
Why Carbon is so harmful?
a) Human activities in the name of development emit about 29 billion tons of Carbon Di-oxide per year, while volcanoes emit between 0.2-0.3 billion tons. At present, half of the CO2 released from the burning of fossil fuels remains in the atmosphere and is not absorbed by vegetation and marine water. CO2is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. CO2 is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth’s Carbon cycle (natural circulation of Carbon is in the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities for their development are altering the Carbon cycle both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and at the same time reducing the ability of natural sinks of CO2, like deforestation. A list of sovereign states and territories is prepared by European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2015, based on CO2 emission due to certain forms of human activity. According to the agency the global CO2 emission by 2015 was 36,061,710 kilo ton. The top 10 largest CO2 emitter countries (shown in Chart-2) produce 27,336,892 kilo ton, which accounts for 75.81% of the total global emission.
Chart-2: The top 10 largest CO2 emitter countries
(kt) in 2015
% CO2 emissions
|Sources: EU & NEAA: 2015|
Bangladesh, with a population of 170 million, contributes only 0.14% to the global emission of CO2. It is due to its population and economic growth, which are leading the country towards an increased demand of energy.
b) Carbon Di-oxide gas can be toxic and very harmful to the human beings. Increasing the CO2 gas levels higher than 5% in the room is enough to kill a human being.
c) Increased CO2 gas in the atmosphere can destroy ozone layer. As the consequences of ozone layer depletion, people can suffer from high blood pressure, headache, twitching the muscles and skin cancer.
d) Rising the levels of CO2 gas stimulates sympathetic nervous system which may be dangerous in some patients already having systematic hypertension.
We cannot ignore the term development but have to find out the way where development will take place without harming our mother planet and the way in sustainable development. Common use of the term sustainability began with the 1987 publication of the World Commission on Environment and Development Report “Our Common Future” and then defined sustainable development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” and described that it contained three major sections, viz.,
- Healthy Environment
- Healthy Economy
- Healthy Society
A Healthy Environment:
A list of environmental indicators for sustainable development is given below:
|Climate Change||Climate is the average weather conditions in an area over a long period. Climate is determined by a variety of factors that include – latitude, air and oceanic circulation patterns, based on local geographical condtion, solar and volcanic activities etc. The most remarkable among those, is the distance of the area from the equator. But, industrialization and fossil fuel burning over the last 200 years has increased the amount of greenhouse gases like CO2 in the atmosphere, enhancing greenhouse effect.|
|Ozone Layer Depletion||Man-made CFCs and other chemicals used in refrigeration, aerosol sprays, and air conditioning systems are destroying the ozone layer remakably, allowing more UV radiation to Earth’s surface, posing threat to human health and the environment.|
|Air quality||The main pollutants associated with poor air quality are -Sulphur Di-oxide (SO2), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Particulates (PM10), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can lead to respiratory troubles, especially among young and aged ones.|
|Acid rain||Sulphur Di-oxide and Nitrogen oxides also react with water in the atmosphere to form Sulphuric and Nitric acid, which return to Earth as Acid rain, a fetal cause of degradation of organisms.|
|Waste||Waste is a product of many human activities that has risen with increasing populations with their growing demands. The concept of sustainable development promotes minimization of waste and enhances renewable products and recycling.|
|Water quality||Water is the main source of livelihood and is use for drinking and other purposes by humans and wildlife alike. But if the drinking water treatment become too costly or if the aquatic life begains to diminish, then it is fair to say that sustainable practices have not been adopted in that area.|
|Biodiversity||In order to maintain the Earth’s biodiversity, we need to integrate concerns into economic policies and take measures to protect areas, habitats, and Species. This was outlined by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit Convention on Biological Diversity.|
If all the indicators belong to the normal range, it is satisfactory; but by analyzing the indicators discussed above, it is clear that development creates problems even Carbon is not associated with them. Some of those factors can cause maximum damage to life and property like, acid rain, mainly caused by Sulphur Di-oxide and Nitrogen oxides can lead to devastating consequences. They react with water in the atmosphere to form Suphuric and Nitric acids, which return to Earth’s surface as acid rain, destroying huge number of organisms and infrastructures. On the other hand, the main pollutants associated with poor air quality are – Sulphur Di-oxide (SO2), Nitrogen oxides (NOx) Particulates (PM10) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be mentioned specially, as they can create respiratory problems, particularly among the young and aged people.
|Gross Domestic Products (GDP)||A nation’s economy plays a significant role on environmental issues. If we have to sustain economic growth and if we want to maintain our economic strength, then we must be conscious about the practices causing environmental problems.|
|Population||Population density influences production and consumption patterns of individual countries and has an effect on the environment.|
|Consumptions||Consumption places a strain on natural resources and can lead to increased waste production. Consumption can involve anything from packaged foods to transport, leisure and tourism.|
|Energy||Energy is important, as it supports our economy. But, energy production has its environmental effects. Nuclear energy is safe if managed properly, but the potential impacts of an accident at a nuclear plant are devastating and long lasting.|
|Transports||Transport provides a key component for our economic and social activities, enabling us to shift resources and products, and allowing us to make journeys for leisure and work. In addition, transport pollution can contribute to acid rain and climate change. In many cases, natural environment is destroyed or adversely affected for constucting roads and highways.|
|Agriculture||Agriculture is an important food source for most societies in the world. But due to overuse of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides, environmental condition can be deteriorated.|
If we analyze the above factors, we can observe that the better the socio economic condition more the Carbon emission and it is true that Carbon and Carbon compound are the main culprits for environmental pollution. So, it’s the challenging issue for the present world to continue the development for the mankind without compromising with environmental damages. Hence, for a sustainable development (i.e., to reduce Carbon), we have to popularize the following concepts:
More GDP > More energy & transportation > More production > More consumption > More population
a) By Popularizing the Green Energy
For ensuring sustainable development we have to ensure the use of renewable energy or green energy instead of traditional or non-renewable energy. Brief descriptions of green energies are given in the following table:
|Solar Energy||Solar Energy is produced by using photovoltaic cells, which capture sunlight and turns that into energy. Bangladesh has a total demand of 7000 MW per day in response to which 4500~4600 MW can be produced, despite having the capability of producing 6700 MW per day. The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land mass is approximately 3,850,000 Exajouls (EJ) per year. The large magnitude of solar energy available makes it a highly appealing source of electricity. The UNDP in its 2000 World Energy Assessment found that the annual potential of solar energy was 1,575–49,837 Exajouls (1EJ=1018J). This is several times larger than the total world energy consumption, which was 559.8 EJ in 2012.|
|Wind Power||Wind power is the use of air flow through wind turbines to mechanically power generators for electricity. The total wind energy potentiality is approximately 2250 Exajouls (EJ) per year.|
The production of power through use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. Most widely used form of renewable energy produces no direct waste, and has a considerably lower output level of the greenhouse gas, Carbon Di-oxide, than fossil fuel powered energy plants.
Globally, 675,000 MWs of hydro-electricity is produced which is approximately 20% of the world electricity and is accounted for about 88% of electricity from renewable sources. In Bangladesh, Kaptai on Karnafoli river generating 218 MW of power. Other potential rivers are Matamuhuri and Sangu.
|By using heat from the Earth’s crust in form of hot water and steam to power generator for electricity. It is considered reliable because the Earth contains 1031 Joules worth of heat energy, which naturally flows to the surface by conduction at a rate of 44.2 terawatts (TW) – more than double humanity’s current energy consumption. But, very less potential in Bangladesh perspective.|
b) By Adopting the Green Technology:
Use of green technologies helps us to reduce Carbon or Carbon-compound by using the energy in the efficient way. According to a recent research from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (www.aceee.org), today it takes less than half the energy to produce a dollar of economic output as it did in 1970. According to Nastu 2008, by using green technology, steel manufacturing companies, and computer systems, increase the energy efficiency by 16.7% and 2.8 million percent respectively. On the other hand, some organizations in Japan have become successful in reducing their Carbon emission to 0; listed in the table:
c) By Green Transportation:
It is any sort of transportation or vehicle, which has no negative impact on the environment. Bicycle, electric scooters, bikes, solar cars, and train are green vehicles, which are powered by solar, electric, wind, or bio-fuel energy. Such public transports (buses, trains) are considered as green transports. Green or cleaner transportation has been introduced in some countries, like Brazil, where cars run on bio-fuel i.e., Ethanol or Ethanol-petrol mixture, obtained from specially grown crops. In many countries, cars are now running with compressed natural gas (CNG) as fuel.
d) By Avoiding Bomb Method:
Bombs are used for extraction of stones which involves use of dynamites that cause the destruction of the pristine environment of the area that is covered by the bomb. For example, ‘Bomb method’ has destroyed the pristine environment of Sylhet’s Jaflong area, which is considered one of the most attractive tourist spots in the country.
e) By developing Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies
f) By Applying Polluters’ Pay Principle:
We can suggest implementing the polluters’ pay principles which means that in all situations costs of cleaning up are borne by polluters themselves and not by the tax payers. This is because awareness does matter for ensuring sustainable development.
g) By Reducing Dependence on Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides:
It is done by adopting new methods for their more efficient uses such as:-
- Granular System of Fertilizer Application (GSFA)
- Integrated Plant Nutrition Management (IPNM)
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by Promoting Organic Agriculture (OA)
h) By Popularizing 7-R Concepts:
The 7-R concept and their brief description are given in the table below:
|Re-use||To put into action or service again.|
|Reducing||Use less or consume less of something.|
|Recycling||To reuse the item and create something else with it.|
|Repair||To repair products rather than buy new ones.|
|Re-gifting||Share extra things with others|
|Rejection||To avoid buying products that are not sustainable or recyclable.|
|Rethink||To think about how you can reuse a product or its materials.|
i) By popularizing the use of Eco-friendly Infrastructure Ingredients.
The main purposes of Carbon reduction for sustainable development are to regulate the exploitation of natural resources and to protect environmental degradation. It is done to maintain environmental quality, balance ecosystems, preserve biodiversity, and regulate exploitation of natural resources. The Carbon reduction is also done to adopt engineered technology without creating adverse effects on environment. Along with that, formulation of suitable environmental rules and regulations, and their effective implementation is also important. Obviously, the Carbon molecules, we have so far added to the atmosphere, will not go away overnight. But by understanding the impact of Carbon and Carbon compounds, if we take positive steps towards the reducing of our emissions; we may avoid the worse effects of upcoming Climate changes. To do that we have to be aware of ourselves, create awareness among people, and have to work as a global community, otherwise each and every one of us is going to suffer the consequences in the days to come.
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