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The Union of Concerned Scientists argues that the Bush administration displays a clear pattern of suppression and distortion of scientific findings across numerous federal agencies. These actions have consequences for human health, public safety, and community well-being. Speaking for the Bush administration, John H. Marburger III argues that the Bush administration strongly supports science and applies the highest scientific standards in decision making, but science is only one input to the policy-making process.
Lewis M. Branscomb asserts that because the results of much scientific research have the potential to aid terrorists, there is a need to control the publication and distribution of "sensitive but unclassified" information. Scientists and others who met under the aegis of the U.K.’s Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust concluded that the issue is real, but self-governance by the scientific community is much preferred over new legislation.
Richard J. Clifford, a professor of biblical studies, argues that although modern creationism is flawed, excluding the Bible and religionfrom American public education is indefensible. He maintains that schools should be places where religious beliefs are treated withrespect. Journalist Evan Ratliff describes the current debate over introducing creationism, in its "Intelligent Design" guise, into the schools and concludes that "in science, not all theories are equal." Science education should not be decided by rhetoric, but by scientific scrutiny.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that global warming appears to be real, with strong effects on sea level, icecover, and rainfall patterns to come, and that human activities—particularly emissions of carbon dioxide—are to blame. The Bush administration’s plan for dealing with global warming insists that short-term economic health must come before reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is more useful to reduce "greenhouse gas intensity" or emissions per dollar of economic activity than to reduce total emissions.
Peter Schwartz and Spencer Reiss argue that nuclear power should be encouraged as the one practical answer to global warming and forthcoming shortages of fossil fuels. Professor of journalism Karl Grossman argues that to encourage the use of nuclear power is reckless. It would be wiser to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Social activist Jeremy Rifkin asserts that fossil fuels are approaching the end of their usefulness and that hydrogen fuel holds the potential not only to replace them but also to reshape society. Michael Behar argues that the public has been misled about the prospects of the "hydrogen economy." We must overcome major technological, financial, and political obstacles before hydrogen can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Michael Meyer argues that when world population begins to decline after about 2050, economies will no longer continue to grow, government benefits will decline, young people will have to support an elderly population, and despite some environmental benefits, quality of life will suffer. David Nicholson-Lord argues that the economic problems of population decline all have straightforward solutions. A less-crowded world will not suffer from the environmental ills attendant on overcrowding and will, overall, be a roomier, gentler, less materialistic place to live, with cleaner air and water.
Public health scientist George Carlo and journalist Martin Schram argue that there is a definite risk that the electromagnetic radiationgenerated by cell phone antennae can cause cancer and other health problems. The National Radiation Protection Board (now the Radiation Protection Division, http://www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/, of the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency) argues that there is no clear indication of adverse health effects, including cancer, from the use of mobile phones, but precautions are nevertheless in order.
Anne Platt McGinn, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, argues that although DDT is still used to fight malaria, there areother, more effective and less environmentally harmful methods. She maintains that DDT should be banned or reserved for emergency use. Alexander Gourevitch, an American Prospect writing fellow, argues that, properly used, DDT is not as dangerous as its reputation insists it is, and it remains the cheapest and most effective way to combat malaria.
Peter Montague, executive director of the Environmental Research Foundation, argues that although nanotechnology is already sparking "a new industrial revolution," its potential hazards are also prompting demands for a go-slow precautionary approach. Mike Treder, executive director of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, argues that the task at hand is to realize the benefits of nanotechnology while averting the dangers but that attempts to control all risks may lead to abusive restrictions and wind up exacerbating the hazards.
Professor of Engineering and Astronomy Joseph Burns contests that the hazards posed to life on Earth by near-Earth objects (NEOs) are great enough to justify increased efforts to detectand catalog NEOs. Scientific benefits may also be expected. Edward Weiler asserts that NASA’s present efforts to detect the larger and more hazardous NEOs are adequate. It is premature to expand the program.
Physicist Stephen Webb argues that "the one gleaming, hard fact in the whole debate [is] that we have not been visited by" extraterrestrial intelligences. The only way to reconcile this fact with everything else we know is to conclude that we are the only intelligent species around. Radio astronomer and SETI researcher Seth Shostak is more optimistic. He argues that if the assumptions behind the search are well grounded, signals of extraterrestrial origin will be detected soon, perhaps within the next generation.
Journalist William Tucker argues that the question is not whether we should pursue the mysteries of space, nor even whether we should send people into space, but whether we should spend vast amounts of money to do so. Physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg argues that nothing needs doing in space that cannot be done without human presence. Until we find something that does need humans on the scene, there is no particular reason to send humans—at great expense—into space.
John B. Horrigan asserts that when people go online, they both form relationships with distant others who share their interests and strengthen their involvement with their local communities. Jonathon N. Cummings, Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut maintain that online communication is less valuable for building strong social relationships than more traditional face-to-face and telephone communication.
Computer professional Simon Cooper argues that technology is enabling a massive increase in routine surveillance and the collection of personal data by both government and business with very few restrictions on how the data are used. Personal privacy is indeed threatened. Stuart Taylor, Jr., contends that those who object to surveillance--particularly government surveillance--have their priorities wrong. Curbing "government powers in the name of civil liberties [exacts] too high a price in terms of endangered lives."
Writer Steve Ditlea argues that computers can simplify publishing, improve access to readers, and enhance the reading experience and thate-books are becoming both practical and popular. Librarian Stephen Sottong argues that e-books are not cheap, readable, or durable enough to replace paper books and that they pose specialproblems for libraries.
John P. Gluck and Jordan Bell argue that although the use of animals in research has been productive, the debate over the ethical justification of using animals in research lacks clarity. Nevertheless, there is strong agreement that researchers have an ethical obligation and duty to protect the welfare of the animals they use in their research. Philosopher Tom Regan argues that any attempt to define what it is about being human that gives all humans moral rights must also give animals moral rights, and that therefore we have no more right to use animals as research subjects than we have to use other humans.
Activists Martin Teitel and Kimberly A. Wilson argue that genetically modified foods should be banned until their safety for humanconsumption has been demonstrated. Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko argue that the acceptance of genetically modified foods has been blocked by activists’ alarming messages and excessive regulation. Regulation should be based on genuine risk, not on the process by which a product is made.
Julian Savulescu, director of the Ethics Program of the Murdoch Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, arguesthat it is not only permissible but morally required to use human cloning to create embryos as a source of tissue for transplantation. Biochemist Leon R. Kass argues that human cloning is “so repulsive to contemplate” that it should be prohibited entirely.