Climate Change Drives NewApproach to...Drugs


No matter what people believe about climate change, the consensus among scientists is our earth is warming. The prestigious National Academy of Sciences states "Scientists have known for some time, from multiple lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth's climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions." More than 200 international organizations also agree. So, for the sake of our children, we should all support action to slow climate change. But how? We depend on fossil fuels to power our lives, and make plastics, lubricants, insecticides, beauty products, clothing, drugs, dyes, asphalt, and adhesives, just to name a few.

This means if we want to cut down our use of fossil fuels, we need to find replacements for it. Scientists are looking at industrial waste products to make medicines. Paper waste products produce cellulose and lignin which could be used for benzazepines, a component of the anti-anxiety drug diazepam.

The most common painkillers Tylenol and ibuprofen are made with crude oil. But turpentine, a byproduct of pine wood processing, can make ?-pinene, a chemical that can be used to make not only ibuprofen but also acetaminophen. This same process can also make a chemical called four-HAP which is behind drugs for asthma and heart disease as well as beauty and cleaning products.

These efforts may only replace a fraction of our fossil fuel dependency, but it chips away at a problem we can't ignore.

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