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. 23, No. 2, Winter

Avoiding Gridlock on Climate Change
For the twelfth consecutive year, nearly 190 nations convened in November 2006, this time in Nairobi, to address the critical issue of climate change. Unfortunately, the atmosphere at these two-week annual conclaves most resembles a medieval trade...
Bioscience Security Issues
In his comprehensive discussion of the problem of "Securing Life Sciences Research in an Age of Terrorism" (Issues, Fall, 2006), Ronald M. Atlas rightly closes by noting that "further efforts to establish a culture of responsibility are needed to ensure...
Commuting in America
Everybody has ideas about how to solve traffic congestion, but the job is trickier than it seems, as a new report examining recent trends in computing patterns makes clear. Commuting in America III, published in October 2006 by the National Academies'...
Deep Competitiveness: Current Proposals to Stimulate U.S. Competitiveness Are Necessary but Not Sufficient to Meet the Challenges Posed by a Rapidly Evolving Global Economy and the Aggressive Policies of Other Nations
Competitiveness is the new buzzword in Washington, DC. Many public and private leaders proclaim that the United States faces a new and formidable competitiveness challenge. Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled their Innovation Agenda in late 2005....
Don't Know Much Trigonometry
A new poll revealed that 86% of Americans are aware that China and India are working to produce more workers with technical skills, and only 49% believe that the United States would rank at or near the top of the global economy 20 years from now. In...
EPA Revises Clean Air Standard
Just days before a court-imposed September 27, 2006, deadline, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised one standard for human exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) but kept another the same, despite a recommendation for change from its...
Federal R & D Funding Stuck on Hold
The outgoing Republican majority in Congress left town in December having passed only 2 (defense and homeland security) of the 11 appropriations bills needed to fund the fiscal year (FY) 2007 budget. Although Congress has endorsed the Bush administration's...
Growing Old or Living Long: Take Your Pick; Research to Understand the Psychological and Emotional Processes of Aging Is Essential to Creating a Society in Which the Elderly Can Thrive
The 20th century witnessed two profound changes in regions of the world where people are well educated and science and technology flourish: Life expectancy nearly doubled, and fertility rates fell dramatically. As a result, individuals and populations...
Improving Public Safety Communications: Today's System Puts the Lives of First Responders and the Public at Risk. What's Needed Is a Nationwide Broadband Network, and Policymakers Now Have a Perfect Opportunity to Act
At 9:59 a.m. on September 11, 2001, the first of many evacuation orders was transmitted to police and firefighters in the World Trade Center's North Tower. Police heard the order, and most left safely. But firefighters could not receive the order on...
New Bush Climate Plan Falls Short, Critics Say
After four years of work, the Bush administration on September 20, 2006, unveiled a strategic plan for using technology to reduce the risk of climate change. However, it was immediately criticized for falling short of what is needed to deal with the...
None Dare Call It Hubris: The Limits of Knowledge
During the past four decades, many of us have come to terms with an increasing realization that there may be a limit to what we as a species can plan or accomplish. The U.S. failure to protect against and respond to Hurricane Katrina in the summer...
Not Safe Enough: Fixing Transportation Security; More Than Five Years after 9/11, the Federal Government Has Yet to Come to Grips with Basic Questions about Priorities, Roles, and Funding
In August 2006, British authorities announced that they had uncovered a plot in which liquid explosives would be used to destroy airliners en route from England to the United States. When the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) responded...
The Future of Nuclear Deterrence
Re: "Nuclear Deterrence for the Future" (Thomas C. Schelling, Issues, Fall 2006). I add some comments that derive from my work with nuclear weapon technology and policy since 1950. More can be found at my Web site, www.fas.org/RLG/. Adding to Schelling's...
The New U.S. Space Policy: A Turn toward Militancy?
At first reading, the Bush administration's new National Space Policy looks much like the Clinton policy enunciated a decade ago. Supporters of the Bush policy in fact state that it is little different, except that the language is perhaps a bit less...
U.S. Flexibility on Farm Subsidies Key to Trade Progress
In "In Agricultural Trade Talks, First Do No Harm" (Issues, Fall 2005), I argued that negotiations at the World Trade Organization risked further impoverishment of the world's poor because the talks lacked a critical focus on how changes in the global...