Beyond Benign

Environmental studies can be included in any science curriculum.  Whether you are looking for lessons to incorporate ideas related to "green chemistry" or you are looking to use safer methods and materials in the laboratory, you will find many great resources at this site.  There are new labs and also replacement labs for some of those familar activities that we shouldn't b

Celebrate Earth Day April 22nd

Celebrate Earth Day, which is on Monday, April 22, 2013. Earth Day was first officially recognized on April 22, 1970. This year the theme is "Our Earth: Handle with Care." The topics this year include water, air, plants/soil, and recycling.

The Artificial Leaf: Daniel Nocera's vision for sustainable energy

MIT’s Dan Nocera (soon to be Harvard’s) gave a seminar in our department about a year and a half ago, and I heard him speak again in ACS President Bassam Shakhashiri’s ”Presidential Symposium on Catalysis” at the Spring national meeting in San Diego. The chemistry he described is a beautiful example of how fundamental research can potentially impact the lives of billions of people. Dan and his research group have discovered what appears to be an inexpensive, self-healing, air-tolerant catalytic system to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. We have seen before grand announcements about photocatalytic water-splitting systems, but this one appears not to suffer the fatal flaws of the others – requirement of pure water, expensive ingredients, and short duty cycles.

The Climate Fixers

Suppose that the earth’s atmosphere continues to warm, beyond the levels that we know are already inevitable.  Suppose that the arctic permafrost melts, releasing millions of tons of methane, which is about thirty times more effective at warming than is carbon dioxide, as well as much CO2 as is already in the atmosphere. Within a few years, the mean temperature rises by five degrees Celsius or more, sea levels rise, crops fail and millions starve.