Friday, December 5, 2008

5 physics lessons for politicians

Foreign Policy lists five physics lessons for politicians and policymakers:
  • Terrorism — Making a nuclear bomb is excruciatingly difficult. ... Many people may worry most about the drama of nuclear terrorism, but as 9/11 showed, it’s far easier for terrorists to inflict massive damage with commercially available explosives such as jet fuel or gasoline.
  • Energy — The biggest source of clean, cheap energy is energy not used. And conservation doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Tell people they can turn up their thermostats to any temperature they like, but encourage them to make sure there is some good (and it can be cheap) insulation in the walls of their homes.
  • Nuclear Energy — Politicians believe the problem with nuclear waste is technical in nature. The scientists and engineers believe the problem is political. ... Nuclear waste storage really is a solved problem.
  • Space — Manned space flight might be a great adventure, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that the presence of humans helps advance science. The greatest scientific achievements of the space program have been the unmanned missions to the planets and the use of remotely controlled instruments to measure the cosmos. All of our greatest space science has come from robots.
  • Global Warming — Yes, it is true that the United States is responsible for one fourth of past global warming. However, U.S. emissions are growing relatively slowly today. So why are we so worried? It’s the rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions of the developing world. China has already surpassed the United States in annual emissions. ... Soon it will far outpace the United States as a contributor to global warming. The rest of the developing world is following. ... If we want to stop global warming, then our focus must be on the developing world. Wealthy countries could start by financing clean coal in China.

1 comment:

  1. great to see, i was hoping for an evolutionary biology lesson but physics is a start.