When John Warner was discussing the need to remove harmful chemicals, such as red dyes that cause cancer, he made a point that replacements must be found before bans can be enforced.
He used a couple of examples, citing chemicals that had been banned, only to now become more used than ever due to loop holes invented because there were no viable alternatives.
Any scenario of sustainability must be built upon this methodology. Change will not occur unless change is possible, and of course, either comfortable or required. In the context of green chemistry, John Warner suggests that industrial chemists now have two sets of tool kits available to them. The green set is the one everyone would like to use, but when you open the drawers it is more than 90% empty. Unfortunately the only option then is to revert back to the other tool kit and grab something that works, even if you know there is the possibility of some nasty unforeseen consequences.
John’s life’s work is trying to fill that green tool box, and motivating other industrial chemists to do likewise.
I think the analogy extends to most disciplines. Architects would love something to replace the fibreglass insulator batts, but even the natural fibre alternatives are treated with such nasty chemicals it is unclear which is better. We hear this sort of conundrum repeated over and over again in many different disciplines.
We need to make sure we don’t vilify the people who are doing the best with what we have right now, but it’s damn scary watching the known nastiness continue unabated.
So… I am going to use my humble blog to celebrate the people at the fringe who are pushing the envelope on the alternatives and hopefully creating the scenarios of the future. Here goes…
Cell Phone as Fruit Fly