Month: February 2009

Missile defense in India

Missile defense in India

A few weeks ago, Indian officials held preliminary talks with the United States about purchasing a missile defense shield from it. “India is a partner of ours, and we want to provide it with whatever it needs to protect itself,” a U.S. official told the Financial Times. Already, Indian officials and scientists have witnessed some simulations of the U.S. missile defense system, along with a couple of live tests. Washington even has offered to sell the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system to India.

Using energy sources wisely

Using energy sources wisely

For nostalgia purposes, I recommend reading President Jimmy Carter’s 1977 speech on energy policy. It’s spot-on, and Carter’s subsequent energy policies managed–among other things–to decrease U.S. oil imports by 50 percent between 1977 and 1982.
One of several ways he did this was by removing oil from the country’s electricity production. Since petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel work so well as transportation fuels, Carter believed that oil should be exclusively for them.

Science in the White House

Science in the White House

One way to understand the value recent U.S. presidents have placed on scientific advice is by examining the structure and agenda of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. When Bill Clinton was president, the office was divided into four portfolios: environment, science, technology, and national security and international affairs.

The threat of emerging ocean diseases

The threat of emerging ocean diseases

Much attention has been paid to newly emergent diseases that have afflicted humans in recent decades–HIV/AIDS, SARS, avian influenza, etc. Conversely, deadly diseases that have emerged in the world’s oceans during the same time period have been largely ignored. While these diseases haven’t caused epidemics in humans, they have proved troublesome to marine animal populations and to susceptible humans who have ventured into contaminated waters.

The nuclear energy industry’s communication problem

The nuclear energy industry’s communication problem

According to the industry, nuclear energy is on the verge of an enormous resurgence, fulfilling the promise that was thwarted by the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island reactor accidents, the Washington Public Power Supply System financial collapse, and other misadventures. These upbeat accounts point to new technology, legislation, energy realities, and management teams as reasons for optimism. Skeptics portray these opportunities as mirages, obscuring the unresolved problems that undermined nuclear expansion plans a generation ago.

Opportunities to improve the bioweapons regime

Opportunities to improve the bioweapons regime

In the February 2009 Jane’s Intelligence Review, Richard Weitz, director of the Centre for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, assessed the current status of the chemical and biological nonproliferation regime. After considering the outcomes of the annual meetings of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which took place in December 2008, Weitz concluded that in 2009 these treaties would be challenged in many of the same ways they were in 2008.

Revitalizing high-level nonproliferation and disarmament talks

Revitalizing high-level nonproliferation and disarmament talks

Unproductive blame shifting has dominated the nuclear debate in recent years, frustrating progress and serving only the interests of those who are content to see no movement on nonproliferation and disarmament. Rekindling a spirit of common purpose on the nuclear agenda is an urgent task.
Despite the post-Cold War decline in public attention, the consequences of nuclear weapons proliferation and an indifferent international performance on nuclear disarmament remain potentially catastrophic.

The stimulus package’s poor energy choices

The stimulus package’s poor energy choices

There’s no doubt that the ongoing recession is affecting every corner of the United States. So it’s appropriate that Congress and President Barack Obama should act. That is why the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) supports using the federal government to implement an economic stimulus. But PSR believes the decision to allocate billions of dollars in the American Recovery and Investment Act for clean coal and nuclear power is unnecessary and dangerous.