Published: 11.02.09

Sustainability, Energy and Climate

In order to sustain our lifestyle, people in the industrial nations in particular use resources and energy, primarily fossil fuels like oil, natural gas or coal, in a big way. Burning these substances produces carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases largely responsible for climate change and which are turning the Earth into a greenhouse. Society, economy and ecology of the Earth are all closely related to one another in this “game”. ETH Zurich is therefore not only researching the causes and effects of the man-made climate change but also new means of generating energy and how a sustainable lifestyle can be achieved. ETH Life provides regular updates on various activities in these fields and compiles the separate articles in this “Energy, Climate and Sustainability” dossier.

Related articles:
While Heads of State are negotiating to reach a substantial climate agreement in Copenhagen, the EU is stepping forward to take the lead in developing innovations to tackle climate change. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a groundbreaking new research, innovation and education initiative that aims to answer the various challenges of climate change. A pan-European consortium encompassing sixteen world class partners from academia, and from the private and public sectors, will implement this new and unique network. Press release of the ETH Zurich, 16.12.09
There is an endless supply of geothermal heat and various systems use it extensively to heat buildings. If we also want to generate power from it, we have to drill deeper. However, the recently cancelled “Deep Heating Mining” project in Basel reveals that there is still a considerable need for research in this field. Simone Ulmer, 16.12.09
The same phenomenon that led to the legendary Bordeaux years in the 1940s also took its toll on the Alpine glaciers, causing them to melt at a rate that surpassed that of the last ten years. Simone Ulmer, 11.12.09
Yesterday, ETH Zurich held a climate debate entitled "Climate Change - Where is Switzerland Heading?" ETH-Zurich researchers were joined by guests from politics and commerce to discuss possible solutions as to how we can combat global climate change. Christine Heidemann, Thomas Langholz and Peter Rueegg, 13.11.09
As part of her doctoral thesis, a researcher from ETH Zurich has developed a new concept that integrates power electronic functions and an electric motor. This could reduce the cost of producing hybrid cars. Nicole Kasielke, 02.09.09
How much sunlight reaches and heats the Earth’s surface depends on a number of factors, many of which we still know very little about. Their causes and impacts on climate are now explored in a special volume published by the American Geophysical Union and compiled under the direction of ETH Zurich. Simone Ulmer, 08.07.09
ETH scientists have recalculated the shrinking ice volume of the Swiss glaciers. The ice masses have already reduced to such an extent that they could be “swallowed up” by Lake Geneva. Simone Ulmer, 19.06.09
New data and reconstructions of America’s “Dust Bowl” drought during the 1930s offer hope that scientists will be able to predict future drought periods more accurately. Simone Ulmer, 27.05.09
If CO2 emissions are halved by 2050 compared to 1990, global warming can be stabilised below two degrees. This is shown by two studies by a co-operation of German, Swiss and British researchers in the magazine “Nature”. Simone Ulmer, 29.04.09
This year’s meeting of the “Alliance for Global Sustainability” (AGS) is taking place at ETH Zurich. Last Tuesday, energy experts from five institutions of higher education talked about different energy systems and their contribution to a sustainable society. The speakers were unanimous: CO2 is the problem of the minute and needs quick technological and political action. Samuel Schläfli, 28.01.09
Once climate change is realized and its consequences become noticeable, there is no way back for over 1000 years. This is what an international team of scientists is telling society, politics and science with its new study. Simone Ulmer, 27.01.09
A pneumatic hybrid engine could be used to power vehicles in the future. The benefit of this technology: it is much cheaper than today’s electric hybrids and almost just as economical. Peter Rueegg, 26.01.09