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Ethics, Chemistry, and Education for Sustainability

By Hartmut Frank, Luigi Campanella, Francesco Dondi, Jan Mehlich, Erich Leitner, Giuseppe Rossi, Karine Ndjoko Ioset and Gerhard Bringmann


Have not the experts and their research contributed all\ud these innovations, their translation into services and goods by\ud the respective industries, in chemistry and in other fields of\ud science and technology? Coping with limitations in crucial\ud resources has always been an important driving force for the\ud growth in chemical knowledge and the achievements of the\ud chemical industry: Habers and Boschs research on the\ud fixation of atmospheric nitrogen in the form of ammonia was\ud triggered by the shortage of natural nitrate, the Chilean\ud salitre. Similar limitations led to coal liquefaction by Fischer\ud and Tropsch. And a third example is the development of\ud synthetic rubber in the 1930s which eased the dependence of\ud industry on natural rubber from tropical countries—which at\ud the turn of the 19th to the 20th century had brought great\ud profits to the traders, but also great suffering to the people of\ud the countries of origin, for example, the Congo. Today it is not\ud much different. With challenges such as the peaking of the\ud major feedstock of chemical industry, that is, crude oil, and its\ud spiraling price as an energy source, research for more efficient\ud photovoltaic materials is increasingly important.\ud But what is meant by “sustainability”? Simply carrying\ud on? A connotation of a “better world” resonates in this word;\ud and certainly the development meant is not what resulted\ud from the chemical-industrial progress in the first half of the\ud twentieth century with its two world wars, the blasting away of\ud millions of people possible by Habers inventions, and the\ud ability to transform coal into the fuel for the war machine, for\ud instance at Auschwitz, where the great poet-chemist Primo\ud Levi suffered as an enslaved laborer-scientist

Topics: education, ethics, social responsibility, sustainability, trust
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1002/anie.201007599
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