Month: September 2012

Getting to bioweapons consensus

Getting to bioweapons consensus

At the Seventh Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Review Conference in Geneva last December, the treaty's 165 member states agreed to a new intersessional process of work to be done in preparation for the next such conference, in 2016. This new process retained the limited aim ("to discuss, and promote common understanding and effective action") of the previous two intersessional processes, but it did restructure the convention's annual meeting of experts and state parties within the process.

The One Health solution

The One Health solution

The popular press is finally recognizing the important connections among human, animal, and environmental health. Environmental destruction, global trade and travel, intensive agriculture, and other human activities all lead to the emergence of previously unknown microbes that can infect across species, causing zoonotic disease outbreaks like West Nile virus, avian influenza, hantavirus, HIV/AIDS, and others. No wonder the media is paying attention.

Fired up

Fired up

— White Salmon, Washington
“I smell smoke,” I told my husband.
“Me too.”
We ran outside and saw gray clouds billowing over the ridge to our west. Smoke was already visible in the air around us. We knew in an instant that it was a wildfire, and the wind was blowing it straight toward us.

Buying climate stability

Buying climate stability

In the August issue of Rolling Stone (“Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”), Bill McKibben provides clarity about the amount of carbon dioxide in the coal, oil, and gas reserves currently owned by companies and countries worldwide. The key number is the 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide that will be emitted by burning these existing reserves over the next decades.

The astonishing National Academy of Sciences missile defense report

The astonishing National Academy of Sciences missile defense report

Just a few weeks ago, on September 11, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report titled "Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: an Assessment of Concepts and Systems for US Boost Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives." It is an astonishing document, given that it purports to be the product of a respectable scientific institution. It contains numerous flawed assumptions, analytical oversights, and internal inconsistencies.

Doomsday Clock Symposium to be held November 29th in Washington, DC

Doomsday Clock Symposium to be held November 29th in Washington, DC

The focus of the 4th Doomsday Clock Symposium is: managing risks of dangerous technologies. Our purpose is to explore the idea of risk, its meanings, and how individuals, the public, and policy leaders think about the risk of catastrophe from low probability events such as nuclear war, terrorist attacks, the release of lethal pathogens, and the weather-related consequences of climate change.

Prague, revisited

Prague, revisited

Few national security issues are as important to President Barack Obama as reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Obama devoted his first major foreign policy speech as president to the subject in April 2009 in Prague, where he pledged America’s commitment to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons. In particular, the president laid out a series of interim steps that the United States must take to reduce the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

Global food security and “virtual water”

Global food security and “virtual water”

Food production requires adequate soils, climate, and water. Roughly 70 percent of the freshwater appropriated by humans worldwide is used for food production. In the absence of trade, people rely on local freshwater resources to grow food. However, when water limitations constrain food production to the point that there is not enough food for everyone, the trade of food commodities provides a mechanism by which regions can compensate for inadequate local water resources.