January 24, 2007
Growing awareness about the health implications of hazardous chemicals in our everyday lives has prompted some scientists to design less toxic alternatives. This exciting new field of research is known as green chemistry, and Terry Collins, PhD, MSc, is one of the major leaders and drivers of this field. He serves as the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University where he directs the Institute for Green Oxidation Chemistry. Dr. Collins has also written and lectured widely on the opportunity for chemists to be significant players in developing vibrant new economies to promote sustainability. He will speak about his research program which focuses on greening oxidation technologies by designing nontoxic catalysts as well as public policy opportunities to encourage the development of products using green chemistry.
February 7, 2007
Nanotechnology has fast become an arena of great technological promise. By manipulating the structure of matter at the level of small numbers of atoms, engineers are producing novel materials and devices. However, nanotech also carries a number of potential and concerning health risks. Given the scientific uncertainty of this technology, some researchers and environmental health advocates are using this debate to call for a thoughtful application of the precautionary principle. Joel Tickner, ScD, director of the Chemical Science and Policy Program and assistant professor in the Department of Community Health and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, has written and lectured widely on implementing precaution in public health and policy settings. He will describe how using precaution can lead to more prudent public health choices when considering emerging technologies such as nanotech.
March 21, 2007
Residents of Washington State currently use five billion gallons of gasoline and one billion gallons of diesel and other petroleum distillates every year. In this coming year, biodiesel production in Washington is expected to leap from 10 million gallons to between 150 and 200 million gallons, and ethanol use will grow from 40 million gallons to 300 million gallons. To help us understand the science of biofuels and the potential health, environmental and policy implications for using more biofuels, we will have three outstanding local experts speak: David Kircher, manager of the Air Resources Department at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, on environmental health; Peter Moulton, coordinator of the Northwest’s Harvesting Clean Energy Program, on agriculture; and Tim Stearns, senior energy policy specialist with the Washington Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development, on public policy.
April 18, 2007
Sustainability has been a “buzz word” for decades now, but people have often found it hard to grasp or utilize in practical ways. What does it mean on the ground to create a sustainable future given the complexity of the systems that influence our lives? John Robinson, PhD, former director of the Sustainable Development Research Institute and current professor in both the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, has been steeped in these issues and questions for years. Dr. Robinson, who also serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the David Suzuki Foundation and has three times been a coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will discuss how we can effectively apply sustainability theory in “real world” terms.