Market Overview

Science and the Environment: A Century of Discovery, But at What Cost?


The IYC is based on the benchmark year of 1911 because of two historic events. First, Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She had already won the 1903 prize for physics—the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. To earn two was even more remarkable. In his article, “Blazing a Trail,” Vision science and environment writer Dan Cloer highlights Curie's remarkable career.

The second benchmark event of 1911 was the first-ever physics conference, the Conseil Solvay, to which Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay invited the world's top physicists, including Curie, Albert Einstein, Henri Poincaré and Ernest Rutherford among others. The conseils have met regularly ever since and continue to play an important role in advancing scientific discovery in the important fields of physics and chemistry.

Certainly, life itself is a chemical process, and as Cloer points out, the chemical by-products of human activity and of life on earth in general have the capacity to be planet-changing. Our impact has simply been greatly accelerated over the past century. Does this matter? The real question is whether the gains are worth the costs. Cloer explores the answer to that question in “It's a Small World.”

“Every driver knows that to drive faster than visibility allows is to invite disaster,” writes Cloer. “During this International Year of Chemistry (IYC) we should remember that what we don't know can hurt us, and that a cavalier attitude is risky indeed; the ubiquitous interlacing of our synthetic creations with the natural world has unpredictable consequences.”

Echoing these concerns, an April 2011 conference at Stanford University asked, “How can we connect the dots?” when it comes to using technology to solve the intersecting problems of energy, agriculture, and population. Cloer offers a review of the conference in “The Missing Dots.”

About Vision: is an online magazine with quarterly print issues that feature in-depth articles covering current events, social issues, family relationships, history, religion and the Bible, and other philosophical, moral and ethical issues. For a free subscription to Vision's quarterly magazine, visit their Web site at

Edwin Stepp
(626) 535-0444 x 105

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