The start of a new blog on Green Chemistry and related topics


The first thing I want to do is point out my own main interest in green chemistry: as a practicing chemist, I have been very attracted to “pollution prevention” as a field of research and development. While it may seem obvious in today’s world, pollution prevention wasn’t always a high priority. The concept is: it is far better to avoid pollution in the first place than to try to clean up pollution after the fact.

The goal of this blog will be to discuss the ideas of Green Chemistry in non-technical terms, though I will provide links and references to relevant technical articles for the specialist. I will try, eventually, to cover all of the key ideas in Green Chemistry, not just my personal favorites. You might wonder, however, why I enjoy a focus on pollution prevention. This is because:

  • Pollution prevention is something that nearly all chemists can work on.
  • Pollution prevention can provide significant economic benefits to companies, making them likely to use new technology and reduce pollution.
  • Pollution prevention doesn’t require changing a product, simply the way a product is made. This also makes adoption of the technology more likely.
  • Much industrial chemistry of today is based on chemical reactions that are over a hundred years old.
  • We have learned so much chemistry in the last hundred years that we have a good chance of entirely replacing the older methods.
  • Reducing pollution has a dramatic and immediate effect on our air, rivers, streams and oceans.

Before I go any further, I should mention that I have posted in a few other places on this subject:

  • I wrote a comment on an article in the excellent blog, Highlight HEALTH, a site for health news and information from a scientific perspective.
  • There are also a few posts on my other blog (nearlynothingbutnovels.blogspot.com), which are really out of place because the blog is devoted to reviewing fiction and crime fiction. But, I had only just started blogging, I felt a need to write, and I had an outlet available. Now the time has come to break out in a new direction in a new blog.
  • You can see a list of books on Green Chemistry and related topics by clicking here and going to page 2. Note: in the interests of full disclosure, these books were written by friends or acquaintances of mine.

I will reveal conflicts of interest to help you judge what I say. Comments and questions are always welcome and appreciated.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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  1. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Idetrorce

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  3. Wahoo and Idetroce: Thanks for your feedback.

    Idetroce: I appreciate your taking the time to read something that you don’t agree with. Is there anything specific that you would like me to try to defend as a position? I’d be happy to discuss/debate any of this.

    I think that many of the points raised by the Global Warming concerns are just as important even if one doesn’t believe in global warming: the environmental pollution from many sources, including fossil fuels, is extreme in many places (Los Angeles, much of S. Korea, Beijing, Shanghai, etc.). In the same manner, pollution of fresh water and seas is a serious concern, especially because of the concepts of “the food chain” and bio-accumulation. Many persistent chemicals end up in fish that we eat (or that are eaten by other animals), and these can have serious health consequences.

    So, the world is no longer large enough to absorb the energy and pollution output of humanity without suffering consequences, and in some cases it never was large enough. These situations can range from delayed development or impaired development in children (whether in Missouri lead-mining towns or rural Chinese villages near chemical plants) to juvenile or adult cancer, respiratory diseases, impaired male fertility, shrinking water tables such as the very aquifer whose drying up led to the Dust Bowl, and dramatic decreases in water levels in the Great Lakes.

    So, the point is that these negative events are real, and their causes are mostly well known (over-use of water in the combined growing of corn and conversion of it to ethanol being a major cause of water table damage in the US, for example, in addition to creating a dramatic increase in fertilizer runoff that pollutes the very fresh water hat whose supply is shrinking).

    So, regardless of one’s stance on global warning, I would say that the environment needs far better protection in many areas. I can also say from direct experience that reducing pollution in many cases actually makes industry much more profitable, and it also avoids the huge cost in real dollars that corporations, governments and society pays to clean up environmental disasters after the fact.

    Your feedback is most welcome as always. Best wishes, Jim




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