4 May 2001
1. SCIENCE POLICY: THE WEEKLY DISASTER REPORT.
The science community seemed to lapse into a sullen silence after the Bush
administration announced missile and energy initiatives that
would have led to cries of outrage in the past. There is still
no White House Science Advisor. Anyone chosen now will
presumably support these new policies; that's unlikely to make
the science community happy.
2. ENERGY: VICE-PRESIDENT CHENEY ANNOUNCES ENERGY STRATEGY.
would you expect two Texas oilmen to come up with? Exactly. The
Vice-President, speaking in Toronto on Monday, explained that
energy policy will emphasize production. Oh, conservation may be
"a personal virtue," he said, but it won't solve the problem:
"Americans demand more energy." So clean coal technology,
drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and even
nuclear energy, are part of the strategy, but there will be no
talk of renewables or efforts to reduce reliance on SUVs. By the
end of the week, however, conservation made a weak comeback. The
President yesterday directed Federal agencies in California to
reduce energy consumption. Conservation, it seems, is quick.
3. STAR WARS II: PRESIDENT CALLS FOR A GLOBAL MISSILE SHIELD.
And he wants it in space, in the air, at sea and on land. The
threat of attack by third world crazies was cited as creating an
urgent need for such a defense. Let's see, we have spent $100B
or so already to develop such a system. What we learned is that,
if the enemy will put homing beacons on their missiles, we might
stop one out of three. But an Administration spokesman explained
that the defense doesn't really have to work, it only has to
create uncertainty. Well, it certainly does that. Even if it
could be made to work, it would only guarantee that a different
delivery system, such as a Ryder Rental truck, would be used.
4. LOW NOTE: KEYNOTE SPEAKER LEAVES AAAS MEETING IN A HURRY.
Larry Lindsey, Economic Policy Advisor to the President, was the
Keynote speaker at the AAAS Science Policy Meeting. He warned
that the Kyoto protocol could damage our collective prosperity
and does little to promote development of new energy technology.
But of course, it was the Administration that slashed the
renewables and energy efficiency budgets by 50%. Lindsey left
hurriedly following his talk, without taking questions.
5. NASA SURVIVORS: HAS GOLDIN BEEN VOTED OFF THE ISLAND?
It is rumored that the White House has hired a headhunter to find a
replacement for Dan Goldin as NASA Administrator. Goldin is the
only high-level survivor of the last Republican Administration.
Meanwhile, high-tech bungee jumper Dennis Tito's stomach problems
have hogged the news all week, making one wonder if too much
disposable income isn't becoming a problem.