GREEN JUNCTION: Steel Production BY JULIE PELLER PH.D

Green Junction

Steel production in Northwest Indiana accounts for about a quarter of the output in the United States. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, production in northern Indiana has led the nation since 1977. Worldwide, the United States is the fourth-largest producer of steel. If this industry were a country, it would rank third in the world for its carbon dioxide emissions. The approximately 1.86 billion metric tons of steel produced in 2020 ($2.5 trillion in sales) also generated 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, around 8% of all human-made greenhouse gases.  

With the expectation for rising steel production over the next few decades, many steel companies must seek technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Global policies will serve as strong incentives for the industry to reduce its present carbon intensity of 1.85 t of carbon per metric ton of steel significantly to just 0.2 t. This will involve improvements in the efficiency of steel production through advances in science and engineering. Additionally, renewable energy will have a role in the transitions. The changes are expected to save money and reduce carbon emissions and other harmful pollution.

The world’s climate crisis requires significant changes by industries, countries/communities, and individuals. Headlines of the past month, such as “Despite pandemic, carbon dioxide level in atmosphere hits record high,” tell us that we are not addressing this global issue seriously enough. Maybe the return to “normal” post-pandemic can be a better, new normal, one that is more considerate of one another and the earth’s health. How great would it be if we all decide to make systematic efforts for positive change, inspired by peace and goodwill, as we return to “normal?” 

From The Cry of the Earth: “Lord, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it. Please help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures. Help us to become instruments of a new creation, founded on the covenant of your love.”

Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work

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