Issues in Science and Technology

A quarterly journal of the National Academy of Science focused on discussion of public policy related to science, engineering, and medicine. Provides a forum researchers, government officials, business leaders, and others concerned with public policy to s

Articles from Vol. 20, No. 3, Spring

A 21st-Century Role for Nuclear Weapons: New Security Challenges and Improved Conventional Weapons Mean New Roles and Requirements for Nuclear Weapons
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has become a metaphor for 21st-century security concerns. Although nuclear weapons have not been used since the end of World War II, their influence on international security affairs is pervasive,...
Atoms for Peace after 50 Years: President Eisenhower's Hopes for Nuclear Technology Still Resonate, but the Challenges of Fulfilling Them Are Much Different Today
On December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower, returning from his meeting with the leaders of Britain and France at the Bermuda Summit, flew directly to New York to address the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. His presentation, known afterward as...
Climate Change Policy
Richard B. Stewart and Jonathan B. Wiener ("Practical Climate Change Policy," Issues, Winter 2004) provide some interesting thoughts on moving beyond the Kyoto impasse. I agree with their recommendation that we need to take a comprehensive approach...
Defense, Homeland Security Dominate Bush's FY 2005 R & D Budget
Less than two weeks after Congress finally completed its work on the fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget, President Bush on February 2 released his FY 2005 budget proposal. The president would increase total federal R & D spending to $132 billion--$5.5...
Deterring Nuclear Terrorism: Contrary to Popular Belief, with a Little Technological Innovation, Deterrence Can Become a Useful Strategy against Terrorist Use of Nuclear Weapons
Has terrorism made deterrence obsolete? President Bush articulated the prevailing view in his June 2002 West Point address: "Deterrence--the promise of massive retaliation against nations--means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation...
Environmental Statistics
I commend H. Spencer Banzhaf's analysis of the numerous benefits of establishing a Bureau of Environmental Statistics within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ("Establishing a Bureau of Environmental Statistics," Issues, Winter 2004). For the...
GM Food Fight
Jerry Cayford's "Breeding Sanity into the GM Food Debate" (Issues, Winter 2004) provides an insightful overview of the big-picture issues in the clash between critics and advocates of biotechnology. Cayford is exactly right in concluding that, for...
Human Spaceflight
John M. Logsdon's "A Sustainable Rationale for Human Spaceflight" (Issues, Winter 2004) is an invitation to begin public discussions that can lead to a more successful space program that will be a source of the national pride he invokes. The problem...
Improving Prediction of Energy Futures: Most Energy-Economic Models Do Not Provide Policymakers with the Information They Need to Make Sound Decisions
When federal lawmakers pass--or do not pass--legislation related to the production and use of energy, their actions ripple across society. Their decisions affect not only the mix of fuels, the price of power, and the spread of pollution, but also federal...
Needed: A Revitalized National S & T Policy; the Proposed 2005 Federal Budget Puts the Nation at Risk by Shortchanging Support for Critical Research Activities
A lot has been said and written recently about U.S. manufacturing job losses. Much of the focus, though, has been on the movement of U.S. jobs overseas. Not enough attention has been paid to the need to create new high-wage jobs in the U.S. economy....
Nuclear Technology's Numerous Uses: We Should Not Let Unjustified Fear of Radiation Create Obstacles to Continued Progress and Benefits
In his 1953 "Atoms for Peace" address to the United Nations, President Dwight D. Eisenhower challenged scientists and engineers to harness the atom for humanitarian purposes in medicine, agriculture, and other non-power aspects of direct benefit. Half...
Pornography on the Net
As Dick Thornburgh and Herbert Lin note in "Youth, Pornography, and the Internet" (Issues, Winter 2004), the Supreme Court took an important step in the legal fight to protect children from online pornography with its 2003 decision upholding the constitutionality...
Saving Earth's Rivers: The Preservation of Ecosystem Health Must Become an Explicit Goal of Water Development and Management
The odds do not look good for the future of the planet's rivers. As populations and economies grow against a finite supply of water, many previously untapped rivers are being targeted for new dams and diversions, and already-developed rivers are coming...
Semiconductor Challenges
Permit me to applaud Bill Spencer's thoughtful "New Challenges for U.S. Semiconductor Industry" (Issues, Winter 2004). Spencer raises a number of key concerns that private decisionmakers and government policymakers should consider in deciding the future...
Small Cities, Big Problems
Cities are home to nearly half of the world's population, and over the next 30 years most of the 2-billion-person increase in global population is expected to occur in cities and towns in poor countries. In many parts of the world, this represents...
Stronger Measures Needed to Prevent Proliferation: An Updated Atoms for Peace Program Is Needed to Help Solve Problems of National and International Security Brought about by Increased Civilian Use of Nuclear Energy
Fifty years ago, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower unveiled the Atoms for Peace program. In a widely noted speech to the United Nations (UN), he called on the United States and other nations to "make joint contributions from stockpiles of normal uranium...
Talk to Me
No president has ever lacked for free advice. Everyone has some policy wisdom to share. But the Bush administration has been plagued with advice-related complaints. It began with receiving secret advice on energy policy from the energy industry, continued...
The Hope for Hydrogen: We Should Embrace Hydrogen Largely Because of the Absence of a More Compelling Long-Term Option
The history of alternative transportation fuels is largely a history of failures. Methanol never progressed beyond its use in test fleets, despite support from President George H. W. Bush. Compressed natural gas remains a niche fuel. And nearly every...
The Hype about Hydrogen: We Can't Use Hydrogen's Long-Term Potential as an Excuse to Avoid Taking Action Now on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Hydrogen and fuel cell cars are being hyped today as few technologies have ever been. In his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion research initiative, "so that the first car driven by a child born today could...
The Nuclear Power Bargain: The Potential Benefits Are Enormous If We Can Continue to Make Progress on Safety, Environmental, Fuel Supply, and Proliferation Concerns
President Dwight D. Eisenhower electrified the United Nations (UN) General Assembly with his vision that "the fearful trend of atomic military buildup can be reversed, this greatest destructive force can be developed into a great boon for the benefit...
Viral Trade
Laura Kahn's "Viral Trade and Global Public Health" (Issues, Winter 2004) raises important concerns about the age of our current international health regulatory structure in light of emerging infections. She correctly points out the need to modernize...