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Year

Source: U.S. National Climatic Data Center, 2001

Figure 5.3 The hard data demonstrating global warming.5

But, the EPA has been even more specific: in a Report to Congress in December 1989, entitled The Potential Effects of Global Climate Change on the United States, they unambiguously stated:6

A rise in sea level would further accelerate the rate of land loss in coastal Louisiana. Even a 50-centimeter rise in sea level (in combination with land subsidence) would inundate almost all of the delta and would leave New Orleans, most of which is below sea level and only protected with earthen levees, vulnerable to a hurricane.

The evidence for global warming is now incontravertible (see, e.g., Figure 5.3).* 5.2 GREEN CHEMISTRY

So, having seen the background, and hopefully appreciating the magnitude and importance of the problem, let us turn to green chemistry. The father of green chemistry, and its leading proponent, is Prof. Paul Anastas. To summarize a decade of definition and development in one sentence, green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and/or generation of hazardous substances. There are twelve basic principles of green chemistry,7 which we have condensed into what we consider the thirteenth principle: "If you do what you have always done, then you will get what you have always got." Green chemistry is the conscience of chemistry; we ignore it at our peril. However, the term green chemistry is all-inclusive. It is a multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial activity, and centrally involves the following disciplines, inter alia:

• Engineering

• Political science

• Ethics and psychology

• Environmental science

• Toxicology

There is no doubt (notice economics at the top of the list) that processes have to be profitable; no industrialist, no matter how green his or her heart, will ever introduce a green process to replace a "black" process if it will lose money. However, green processes are intrinsically more economic than black processes,

* Two major recent reports ["The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change" from the UK government (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_ change/stern_review_report.cfm) and "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis" from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; http://www.ipcc.ch)] have amplified and emphasised the points made here.

as the fundamental principles of green chemistry include atom efficiency, 100% selectivity and conversion, and zero waste. It is now up to chemists and chemical engineers, working as a close-knit team, to develop exciting new green technologies to allow two new overriding equations to be established:

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