The Global Energy System of the Future – Key Determinant of Climate Change

Friday, 1. October 2004 | 8:30 Uhr


Prof. Dieter Imboden


Environmental Physics ETH Zurich

Abstract Key Note

Today, CO2 contributes 60% of the total climate forcing of all man-made green-house gases. Most of the anthropogenic CO2-emission is linked to the use of energy by man. Provided that the rate and extent of climate change are to be limited to a tolerable size, the global emission of CO2 has to be reduced by 50 to 70% during the next hundred years. In contrast, models predict that the global energy demand will be multiplied by 3 to 5 in the same period. Options for both the demand and the supply side will be explored which could lead the world away from these divergent developments.

Prof. Dieter Imboden

Dieter Imboden has been full Professor of Environmental Physics at the Department of Environmental Sciences since 1988. He served as head of the department from 1992 to 1996. His research group is affiliated with the Institute for Aquatic Sciences and Water Pollution Control (IGW). Prof. Imboden was born in Zurich on August 22, 1943. He studied theoretical physics in Berlin and Basel and in 1971 received his doctorate at the ETH Zurich following a dissertation on theoretical solid-state physics. His interest for the environment, particularily water, brought him to the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Sciences and Technology (EAWAG), to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, as well as to other American universities. Since 1974 he has been teaching at the ETH Zurich. In 1982 he completed his habilitation requirements in the field of mathematical modeling and environmental physics. In 1987 he was one of the co-founders of the new curriculum in environmental sciences at the ETH Zurich. From 1998 to 1999 he was the director of novatlantis, an interdisciplinary project on sustainable development within the domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technolgy, where he initiated the pilote project ”2000 Watt Society”.
For many years Prof. Imboden’s main research concerned the physics and chemistry of natural water bodies, especially the large lakes of the earth (Lake Baikal, Caspian Sea, etc.). One of his central aims in research as well as in teaching is to combine the methods of physics with other disciplines in order to tackle the complex environmental problems. His textbook ”Environmental Organic Chemistry” which he wrote together with two chemists, René Schwarzenbach from ETH Zurich and Phil Gschwend from MIT, won the ”Chemistry Book of the Year Award” of the Association of American Publishers in 1994. Using examples such as «global climate change» or «energy policies», Prof. Imboden attempts to bridge the gap between natural and social science and the humanities. He serves on various professional comissions including the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

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