Monday, October 06, 2008

Science Debate 2008: 14 Questions

Now that the presidential race has officially become ugly, here's some policy information that can hopefully bring some of us back down to what really matters.

To those of you interested in science and technology, here's a political spin: 14 questions about "science and the future of America." It's a long read and there's a lot of stumping on both sides, but the page has a helpful layout that places both candidates' answers next to each other for each question.

There's simply too much material to quote extensively, but here are two worthy of comment:
Nuclear power is a proven, domestic, zero-emission source of energy and it is time to recommit to advancing our use of nuclear energy. -- John McCain
Is nuclear power really proven? It generates electricity, yes, but proven? So far there are no nuclear power plants in the U.S. that haven't been heavily subsidized. The cost per megawatt, when cost overruns and subsidies are calculated, makes nuclear power anything but "proven." Zero-emission? That's a common misconception. They are low-emission, but not zero. Of course they are vastly better in this regard than coal or natural gas plants, but there is some pollution from nuclear plants. And what about those nasty spent fuel rods that no one wants in their backyard? That's a pollution problem.

Next, Obama calls for a national CTO.
...Establish the nation's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO will lead an interagency effort on best-in-class technologies, sharing of best practices, and safeguarding of our networks. -- Barack Obama
This is a terrific idea for helping government efficiency and security that could ultimately lead to many good things, but man would that be a tough job. Still, high marks for recommending it. Lots more of this type of stuff, in much greater detail, at the link above.


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