If you really want to protect the environment, it's not enough just to care about it; you need to learn and really understand something in order to protect it. That's the lesson that Dr. Paul Anastas' father taught him after bulldozers had destroyed the wetlands down the hill from his childhood home, turning what was once a place for adventure and natural beauty into parking lots and an office park.
Paul clearly took this early lesson to heart. Widely known as the "Father of Green Chemistry," he has devoted his career to learning about how to create a more sustainable society.
For him, this has meant the pursuit of developing a greater understanding of chemical processes and molecular design. Trained as an organic chemist, Paul pioneered a new field of chemistry dedicated to developing safe, clean, and efficient products.
"As a chemist, I know of the good chemistry has brought society: medicine, food, electronics, and energy. As a green chemist, I know we can have all those benefits without the negative consequences of toxicity, waste, and other hazards," explains, Paul.
In addition to being the Father of Green Chemistry, Paul is also the father of two young children. "I consider the work I do—using science to advance the protection of human health and the environment—as an extension of my love for my children in trying to give them a better future," he says.
Paul is currently the Director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, and the inaugural Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He recently served as the Assistant Administrator in the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was also EPA's chief scientist. Paul has an extensive record of leadership in science, government, academia, and the private sector.
See Dr. Paul Anastas, the "Father of Green Chemistry", at the X-STEM Symposium on April 24th!
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Bulldozers are evocative symbols, but what really turned the wetlands into the parking lot was something that does not lend itself easily to evocative symbolism: pure human selfishness.
A bulldozer properly wielded can also be a tool of restoration, and selfishness properly disciplined and channeled can be a tool of innovation and breakthrough.
In the end there are no substitutes for mindfulness and compassion.