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Stand up and be counted

Posted 07/12/2011 by sevans

The International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC) has now formally come to an end – in Europe the closing ceremony was organised by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) in Brussels last week. And once the dust has settled, there will be a period of analysis looking at how successful the year of chemically related events has been.

Certainly in the UK there has been a marked increase in the numbers of students applying for university courses involving chemistry – so much so that some university chemistry departments have been expanded and even re-opened as C&I will report in its first issue of the New Year!

But one disturbing aspect did come to light towards the end of the year, indicating that perhaps knowledge about the IYC was not as widespread as those of us involved more directly might care to think. 

The well-known UK tv presenter, author, actor and polymath Stephen Fry only became aware of the IYC in November, indicating a rather surprising and disturbing failure in fostering general awareness about such an important global effort. For such a well-know personality, especially someone who prides himself on the breadth of his knowledge, to be unaware of such a major event is extremely worrying.

The chemical industry has often been accused of talking to itself when trying to explain the benefits it brings and in responding to criticism from environmental groups and others, but it would be disappointing if the same thing were to be said about the whole area of chemistry.

One thing that chemistry and the chemical industry lacks is larger than life personalities – gone are the days of John Harvey-Jones, when he ran ICI, another name that has disappeared. We need more people in industry like Martyn Poliakoff and his elemental video project! People who are memorable and can explain our science and industry in words that excite as well encourage support.

We need to show that we are proud of what we do – and again this is something that will be addressed in C&I in the first issue of 2012. We need people who are sufficiently proud and motivated to stand up and be counted in support of chemistry and chemicals.

What are your thoughts about the impact of IYC? And where should we go from here?

Neil Eisberg – Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    13/07/2012 07:43

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