Keep advancing green science

Earth friendly chemistry is being recognized at the highest level of science.

Last week a Frenchman and two Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on metathesis, a form of organic synthesis that reduces hazardous waste when creating chemicals. The method, labeled a type of “green chemistry,” is part of a growing field of science aimed at being friendly toward the environment.

It is commendable that this type of work is recognized at the highest level of science. Now we must use this model to continue striving toward making all our scientific advances not only beneficial to humans, but to our environment as well.

The Nobel committee said metathesis is “a great step forward for ‘green chemistry,’ reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production.” The technique is already used in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

Green chemistry technologies focus on using alternative synthetic pathways, using alternative reactive pathways and designing safer chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Chemistry Program supports these goals, and research programs at the University, as well as other major research institutions, should employ as many “green” methods as possible.

The University would do well to strive toward joining many other institutions such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and North Carolina State University in adding green chemistry to its academic program. The University is already doing a good job of working on projects like biofuels and other environmentally friendly projects, and green chemistry is an area in which it could expand.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty loves to make a big deal about the state leading the nation in renewable energy. He needs to push and support other environmentally friendly science initiatives to complement his energy ideals. The advancement of such technology is the way science is heading and the only way we will be able to sustain such research in the future.