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Preserve the planet I - Understanding sustainability

SpecialChem / Jul 6, 2005

Earth is a semi-isolated system: * Ore, fossil fuels, atmosphere and other physical resources have a defined potential without inlet stream. If we use these resources their potential is lowered forever. * Energy can be, to some extent, exchanged with space (see figure 1). Solar radiation brings heat by infrareds and the atmosphere controls the heat depletion by a greenhouse effect. Both phenomena maintain the average temperature at the earth's surface. UV radiations are also filtered by the ozone layer mitigating their harmfulness, the less so as ozone is depleted. Schematic energy exchanges between earth and space Industrial polymers, on the one hand consume fossil energy and raw materials, and pollute but on the other hand create jobs, improve human health protection. All in all they modify the planet equilibrium and designers must be aware of these problems. In recent years the concept of sustainability was developed and then normalized (ISO 14000) to help the economic and industrial actors to think about ways able to improve or minimize the degradation of our Earth.

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