Month: December 2009

Bringing a “culture of responsibility” to life scientists

Bringing a “culture of responsibility” to life scientists

In a 2005 essay entitled “Biomedical Research and Biosecurity,” Robert Steinbrook, the national correspondent of the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded, “Establishing biosecurity policies for biomedical research without obstructing scientific progress or disrupting the usual procedures for scientific communication is a complex matter.” Indeed it is–and has been.

Reducing the nuclear threat: The argument for public safety

Reducing the nuclear threat: The argument for public safety

Today, at the other end of the long trek down the glacier of the Cold War, the nuclear threat has seemingly calved off and fallen into the sea. In 2007, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project found that 12 countries rated the growing gap between rich and poor as the greatest danger to the world. HIV/AIDS led the list (or tied) in 16 countries, religious and ethnic hatred in another 12. Pollution was identified as the greatest menace in 19 countries, while substantial majorities in 25 countries thought global warming was a “very serious” problem.

A thought for Copenhagen and beyond

A thought for Copenhagen and beyond

Much has been written in anticipation of the current meeting of diplomats and international climate change experts in Copenhagen. Indeed, these men and women deserve our gratitude because forging and implementing an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions is one of the most intractable problems that humanity has ever faced.

Nuclear weapons: The modernization myth

Nuclear weapons: The modernization myth

The belief that the United States is the only declared nuclear power that isn’t modernizing its nuclear arsenal is fast becoming an article of faith in nuclear weapon policy circles. As Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl put it last summer, “Every nuclear weapons power–with the exception of the United States–is currently modernizing its nuclear weapons and weapons delivery systems.”

Breaking the U.S.-Russian deadlock on nonstrategic nuclear weapons

Breaking the U.S.-Russian deadlock on nonstrategic nuclear weapons

As U.S. and Russian negotiators hammer out a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires tomorrow, some Republican senators have already criticized negotiators for not including nonstrategic nuclear weapons–a category of nuclear arms not subject to legally binding limits or verification and one in which there is a great disparity between U.S. and Russian holdings. The U.S.

Despite economic downturn, nuclear energy commerce is still worrisome

Despite economic downturn, nuclear energy commerce is still worrisome

At the beginning of 2008, the nuclear power industry’s euphoria over the much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” was in full swing. But as that year drew to a close, the hopes for a revival seemed delayed, if not derailed, due to faltering world economies. Little has changed this year to alter that prospect. As the global financial crisis has continued, demand for energy has plummeted along with the world’s stock markets. Such news may help calm international security experts, who fear that a proliferation of nuclear energy know-how could lead to nuclear weapons proliferation.

Afghanistan: Vietnam all over again

Afghanistan: Vietnam all over again

“Today they are ringing the bells; tomorrow they will be wringing their hands,” Sir Robert Walpole.
We don’t know the intimate details of the discussions in President Barack Obama’s recent war councils, so it’s impossible to know what the chess-player-in-chief is thinking as he sends 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. We only know what he is telling us.