Sunday, November 23, 2008

Donate airline miles?

Do you think anyone would be willing to donate airline miles so we can get one of us to Bangladesh?

Bangladesh Initiative

The way I see it our arsenic project has unravelled into several strands.

First, we still have the original idea of using water hyacinth to remove arsenic from water. There are several difficulties there. How much dried water hyacinth will absorb how much arsenic? Scientifically what are the isotherms that describe the sorptive behavior? What procedure can be worked out that would be effective in a non-lab setting? What is the best way to remove the arsenic-rich hyacinth? How does one dispose of the contaminated plant material? Culturally, would you drink water that have been mixed with powdered plants? As Elmo says, its not much different than drinking tea, is it? Maybe, maybe not.

Next, arsenic is not the only significant environmental problem in Bangladesh. Three others have been suggested: surface water pollution from tanneries, from textile dyers, and indoor air pollution from burning a variety of materials to provide cooking fires. Perhaps with much of the global community focused on the arsenic, we should tackle something else.

Third, what would it take to assist the Bangladeshi chemical community to build an environmental chemistry research and development centre? Rather than jumping in and jumping back out, how can we set up infrastructure that will train new Bangladeshi scientists, provide research space to current scientists with up to date technologies to study and make recommendations for improving the conditions in Bangladesh?

Fourth, can we set up a model semester abroad for science students in Bangladesh? Can we collaborate to the extent that US (and other) undergraduate students (graduate students also?) could go to Bangladesh and not miss out on their requirements for graduation. Students might study Bangladeshi language and culture, take a science class, and assist a graduate student or professor with a research project.

Ideas? Reactions?

Mindmap added by Bego, 12/14/2008 (click to enlarge image):

Thursday, November 13, 2008

EPA Denies Appeal for New Coal-Fired Power Plant

My favorite quote:

The 69-page decision described the Bush administration’s arguments as “weak,” “questionable,” “not sustainable,” and “not sufficient,” and rebuked EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson for failing to issue CO2 regulations, repeatedly recommending an “action of nationwide scope.”

Click on the title for the link.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Social Values and Shopping Merge Through 'World of Good'

Keep thinking about ways to help people economically. It's not just about chemistry. At the same time, when you watch this, consider ways in which chemistry is involved in what people like this are doing. Often, people are completely unaware of the occupational and environmental risks of their activities.

Video Report

November 6, 2008 | Transcript: The World of Good company takes a different approach to shopping -- by encourage mainstream retailers like Whole Foods and eBay to take a build ethnical consumer experiences. Spencer Michels profiles Priya Haji, the CEO and co-founder of World of Good, and examines how the company sells messenger bags, handicrafts and other products with the aim of employing people in impoverished parts of the world and spreading social awareness among U.S. consumers.

World of Good Web site

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Following The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste, 60 Minutes Follows The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste, Illegally Shipped From The U.S. To China - CBS News

This is an important story in which I believe Chemists Without Borders must become involved. Lives are at stake and it is our chemistry that is jeopardizing them. Please watch this video segment and respond with thoughts on where we can make a difference. Thank you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Once again, Muhammad Yunus impresses

On October 27, Muhammad Yunus and Michael Milken were interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS. Very impressive. They are implementing in the United States the micro-financing model for which Muhammad Yunus so deservedly received the Nobel Prize in 2006. Microloans in the United States are naturally of a different scale from those in developing countries, but they are nevertheless necessary given the serious condition of the poor in the United States. Yunus and Milken propose to offer loans of up to $3000 without collateral. The model has demonstrated elsewhere that over 98% of loans are paid back. Imagine the impact on the poor here. The beauty of this approach is that it does not simply provide a handout; on the contrary, this is free enterprise at its best. I highly recommend that you watch this very exciting interview.

As a special bonus, the second half of the program is about a play currently on Broadway, about the Black Watch. The Black Watch is a Scottish regiment that has existed for hundreds of years, and it is often the Black Watch whom the British send in to battle first. This play, which is very moving, addresses their recent deployment into Iraq. Since I am from Scotland, and lived in Fife whence comes the Black Watch, this is a story very close to my own heart. I would be very happy to hear from others your opinions on both segments.

Thanks for reading.