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From the Publisher
August 2, 2010   
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Environmental awareness does not have a particularly long history. I can still remember the excitement over attempts to restore life to the River Thames and over the seemingly revolutionary notion that factories can do better than to dump waste directly into rivers, especially if the water downstream is used to supply households.

Nowadays, the discovery that a factory is not taking such measures would cause consternation. People’s environmental awareness has changed and taken on new dimensions—political, social and economic. In political terms, environmental awareness is reflected by the emergence and development of green parties. In social terms, various ecological movements have sprung up and grown extremely powerful—it’s enough to see what is happening at universities and in research labs and how many books and reports are being published about this subject.

In economic terms, environmental awareness is apparent in the mushrooming environmental protection sector and the changing ways of approaching the issue of development—exemplified by United Nations conferences on environmental issues and the European Union’s ambitious—possibly over-ambitious—climate and energy package, under which member states are expected to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

The exciting things happening in environmental technology are exemplified by the Polish Platform of Environmental Technologies, a research-and-development consortium that we report on in this issue of The Polish Science Voice. The consortium aims to develop new environmental protection technology to help the country meet the targets of the EU’s climate and energy package.

Another example of the growing environmental awareness in Poland is a zl.100 million energy-saving office building whose construction will begin in September by a company that runs a science and technology park in the southern city of Katowice. This will be the first “passive” office building in Poland. It will house offices, hi-tech laboratories, conference rooms as well as equipment required by the companies and research centers at which the project is aimed. The building will draw only 12 percent of its energy requirements from traditional sources; the rest will come from renewable energy sources.

Another “green” motif in this issue of The Polish Science Voice is evident in an interview with Jan Skowronek, director of the Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas (IETU) in Katowice. The institute aims to promote sustainable development of the environment in urban areas and industrial regions. It works with a number of leading research centers and environmental protection agencies around the world.

When it comes to ties abroad, long gone—I hope—are the days when Polish scientists were the poor relations of their Western colleagues, settling for the middle rungs of an international career ladder. Today they aspire to coordinate and manage international research projects. The special guest of this issue of The Polish Science Voice, Prof. Janusz Hołyst, a Warsaw University of Technology physicist, chairs an association of Polish managers of EU research projects (KRAB). The association’s aim, he says, is to have Polish scientists appointed as coordinators of or partners in as many projects as possible.

As usual, this issue of The Polish Science Voice also contains a wealth of news from research labs across the country.
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