Paul Anastas

Science Wednesday: Green Biz

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.
By Becky Fried

On February 3, EPA Assistant Administrator Paul Anastas, participated in the State of Green Business Forum in San Francisco, California. The forum brought together the world’s foremost innovators, thought-leaders, and executives to discuss sustainability challenges and opportunities. Joel Makower, Chairman of the GreenBiz Group, interviewed Anastas on stage in front of hundreds of business leaders from companies such as Adobe, Disney, Clorox, Microsoft, and more. Their discussion focused on sustainability, innovation, environmental protection, and economic growth.

In discussing EPA’s scientific and research goals with Makower, Anastas quoted Albert Einstein, “problems can’t be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” He went on to explain that the complexity and subtlety of today’s environmental challenges coupled with our ever-evolving level of scientific awareness is a call for a new kind of thinking. It’s about “asking ourselves different questions through a different lens,” he said.

That lens, according to Anastas, is sustainability.

As reflected in many of the exciting activities taking place here at EPA, Anastas explained how sustainability and innovation are the keys to achieving the Agency’s mission in a way that meets the needs of the current generation while preserving the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

So, how do businesses, industry, and other sectors fit into this sustainable future? Sustainability is about achieving synergies, he said. It’s about protecting human health and the environment in a way that enhances economic growth and societal benefits. And, he continued, collaboration and partnerships across all sectors will be vital to achieving these synergies. Anastas invited members of audience to learn more about EPA’s efforts and explore opportunities for discussion and collaboration toward mutually-beneficial goals.

In response to Makower’s question about whether working toward sustainability is “hard,” Anastas explained that often, our most important goals are those that are most difficult to measure. Just as our pursuit of matters like justice, health, and freedom are not easily measured with metrics and numbers, our pursuit of sustainability is extremely difficult to quantify.

Paul Anastas will be interviewed again in an upcoming GreenBiz event here in Washington, DC on February 16th. For details and information on how to participate, click here.

About the Author: Becky Fried is a writer in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, where Paul Ansastas is the Assistant Administrator.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday: Swapping Stories

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.
By Aaron Ferster

Last week science communication colleagues from across the Agency gathered together at a conference center outside of Washington, DC to talk shop and finalize a strategic communication plan for effectively sharing EPA research results and outcomes.

Paul Anastas, the assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, the science arm of the Agency, has placed a premium on science communication. “Great work, done invisibly, cannot have impact,” he says. “Communication is essential in the design, definition, conduct, transfer, and implementation of the work we do if we are to have an impact.”

Dr. Anastas was not just talking to the members of the science communication team, but to everyone involved in research and development at EPA. Never the less, as you could imagine, as those on the front lines of communication we all found his words rather energizing.

While at our meeting, we reviewed communication plans and consulted with one another to identify best practices across EPA’s various research labs centers, and offices. We spent time discussing ways to quantify and track our work so we can make sure we set appropriate goals, effectively reach and serve intended audiences, and work efficiently.

As the science writer on the team, my favorite part of these meetings is always listening to stories about EPA research. This meeting was a good one for identifying great science stories. Just a few examples include:

  • EPA researchers working to build a computer model that simulates embryonic development, a “virtual embryo” that will serve as a screening tool for testing the toxicity of chemicals on the developing embryo.
  • n a research project already underway, an interdisciplinary team of EPA researchers and their partners are studying the effects of near-roadway pollution on human health.
  • Across the country, EPA ecologists and other experts are exploring ways to better understand and quantify “ecosystem services,” the myriad ways that natural ecosystems benefit human society.
  • One research project still in the planning stages will involve tapping advanced environmental monitoring technologies placed on commercial aircraft to gather data for analysis into important environmental such as tracking climate change and air pollution globally.

And these are just the first examples on my list of notes from the gathering. My colleagues and I will be working to share all of them through this blog, our Science Matters newsletter, EPA’s Web site, and other places over the coming weeks and months. Please stay tuned!

About the author: Aaron Fester is the lead science writer-editor in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and the editor for Science Wednesday.

Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.