Global Warming

The steel industry is one of the major contributors of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, together with electricity generation and transportation. That much is a fact. What’s also a fact, though, is that whereas electricity generation and transportation often have means other than fossil fuels available to perform their function, the same can’t be said of steel production.

Until a totally different process is invented to extract iron from its ores without the use of coal, all that can be done is to make the process as efficient as possible. Which clearly has its limitations. Not that steel is the only product in this position: the extraction of aluminium from bauxite is such an energy intensive process, that this type of plant requires its own bespoke power plant to function.

Still, if sea levels rise by the several metres predicted as a result of the collapse of the Greenland and Western Antarctic ice sheets, then it looks like one of the major sources of carbon dioxide will be greatly reduced. The reason ? Many of the steel plants that I’m familiar with are positioned in low lying areas near the sea, and a substantial sea level rise may well make their position untenable.

Just off the top of my head I can think of Port Talbot, Llanwern, Trostre, Scunthorpe, IJmuiden, Sidmar, Usinor in Dunkerque – and that’s just the nearby ones I know of. Maybe I’m overly pessimistic here, and the type of sea level rise I’m thinking won’t happen this century, but if I were involved with the long-term planning involving these steel plants, I’d make sure I had an emergency plan to avert the worst effects of even a major storm surge.


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