Elements: The European Chemical Society this month released an updated version of the periodic table that indicates the availability and sustainability of every element on the planet. What is new is that, now, the table also highlights the environmental challenges linked to carbon.
The new colors assigned to the element draw attention to different aspects: in addition to the green, from the old version, it is also represented by red and gray.
In this new version of the periodic table, the green elements are those with the greatest abundance on the planet, such as carbon, oxygen, silicon and hydrogen.
In red are the types of atoms that are threatened and could disappear within the next hundred years, such as helium, which is used in the gas of party balloons.
In the case of carbon, the greatest risk is associated with the release of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.
This pollutant is one of the main greenhouse gases, which leads to global warming, and that is why the element was included in the category. Last year, carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere reached a record.
In gray are represented elements obtained in regions involved in conflicts. One of the main sources of carbon today is oil, extracted mainly in the Middle East region, which is marked by several wars.
The update of the table coincided with COP26, the international conference on climate change promoted by the UN, where more than 70 countries signed an agreement to eliminate the use of coal, another important source of carbon.
According to the European Chemical Society, the change promoted is a clear warning to all world leaders and decision-makers who participated in the event.
On the Phys.org website, professor and project coordinator, David Cole-Hamilton, stated that to restore carbon to its original green color, it is necessary to responsibly manage the element and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The researcher also emphasizes that it is necessary to interrupt conflicts over the use of this resource.
Carbon is essential for the maintenance of life on the planet. The carbon cycle is involved with the breathing process of living beings and the photosynthesis of plants.
The levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for millennia, have been regulated by the oceans. This substance is dissolved in the waters of the seas, which is able to balance the release of this gas, ensuring climate stability. This balance is threatened by the excessive burning of fossil fuels.
In the table it is also possible to see the elements that are used in the production of smartphones (identified by the icon of a small phone). There are more than 30, including some in scarcity and obtained from conflict zones.
The first version of the table had been released in 2019, on the occasion of the International Year of the Periodic Table. The Elemental Escapades game was also released! The Periodic Table Adventure that you can download for free.