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.

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