Global Environment: Critical Issues 1999 – R.Holt E.Moniz S.Begley H. Reese MIT Kendall Symposium/4

[MUSIC PLAYING] FRANCIS: The next issue is the
role of science and scientists in public policy. There is a panel discussion
moderated by Howard Reese. Howard is the executive
director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. And Howard will
introduce his panel. HOWARD REESE:
Thank you, Francis. While everybody’s
sitting down, I’ve been asked to respond
to two questions. One, where is Tim
Wirth’s speech? A FedEx arrived from
his office this morning, unfortunately completely empty. [LAUGHTER] Therefore, we’ll make an
effort to get it transcribed, and it will probably appear
at least on our website, which is, sometime over
the next several weeks when we can make that happen. Possibly also at
MIT and elsewhere. Secondly, people have asked,
what is the orange book outside? That is actually
a sort of memoir that Henry Kendall had been
working on before he died. It’s a collection of
all of his articles, ranging from physics to
his work in the environment and national security, and some
original sections that he wrote and we worked with
Springer-Verlag to get published. It just arrived from the
publisher this morning. So there is a flyer out there. If you’re interested,
you can take one back with ordering information. We’re going to change tacks here
a little bit this afternoon. We’re also going to give
the audience a chance to participate at the conclusion
of our panelists here. You heard various
talks this morning about some of the more
serious critical issues facing our future, ranging
from climate change to nuclear weapons
and biodiversity. These are all issues
where it is absolutely essential for policymakers,
the media, and the public to be adequately informed about
both causes and solutions, and where the
scientific community can play an important role. Often, there are
controversies where the data is
insufficient or unclear, or where the scientific
consensus has not been adequately communicated
or at its worst, deliberately clouded by those
who oppose action. Clarifying the
scientific consensus and mobilizing scientists
for thoughtful and effective actions were goals that drove
much of Henry Kendall’s work in the public arena with the
Union of Concerned Scientists and other organizations. Indeed, today, UCS has a
large and innovative project called the Sound Science
Initiative, designed primarily to facilitate the participation
of scientists in public policy issues. So we thought it would
be appropriate today to spend some time examining
the role of scientists in the public policy
process from three different perspectives. That of a US representative
on Capitol Hill, a journalist with
Newsweek magazine, and a senior official at
the US Department of Energy responsible for setting national
policy on some of the key issues we’ve been
hearing about today. Congressman Rush Holt is a
Democrat from New Jersey, serving his first term
in the US Congress. I believe congressman
Holt is one of just two members of
Congress with a PhD in physics. Prior to his election
in 1998, Dr. Holt was assistant director of
the Princeton plasma physics laboratory. Sharon Begley is a senior
editor at Newsweek magazine, where she has worked since 1977. Ms. Begley is well-known
for her ability to translate complex
scientific theories or issues into
compelling, informative, and I’ll underscore,
accurate prose. She covers a broad range
of scientific, health, and environmental
issues, exemplified by these three recent titles. The Birth of the Planets, Are
we all a Little Crazy, and To Walk on Mars. Dr. Ernie Moniz
is undersecretary at the US Department
of Energy, where he is responsible
for R&D priorities on energy, environment,
national security, and fundamental science. Many of you here
will, of course, know him as Professor Moniz
from the Department of Physics at MIT. I’ve asked each speaker to
focus on some broad questions about how scientific
input is assembled, used, not used, or abused in the media
and the public policy process, to comment on their own personal
experience as journalists or scientists in
decision-making roles. For example, what’s it like to
be a scientist on Capitol Hill? How do journalists
sort out the facts on complex controversial
issues when you have to meet a 1 o’clock deadline? How is national policy made when
the science is not yet clear or all the data isn’t in? Each speaker will
have 15 to 20 minutes, and then we’ll have an
opportunity for them to react or ask
questions of each other. And then we’ll open up
the floor for questions from the microphone. After the discussion
period, I want to show another short film. And I have to
apologize, I hadn’t seen that film we showed
this morning for a while. I thought it was 11 minutes. It turned out to be 21 minutes. The film I will show in a
little while is only 59 seconds, and I can guarantee you that. [LAUGHTER] It is one of the last
projects Henry was working on at UCS, so I think
it’ll help tie some of the themes
of the day together. So before we finish this
panel, I will show you that. So let’s begin with Rush Holt. [APPLAUSE] RUSH HOLT: Thank you, Bud. And thank you for inviting me
to be with you this afternoon. I don’t venture as a
freshman member of Congress. I don’t venture very far from
Central New Jersey often. But for Henry Kendall
and for his memory, I am pleased to be here. It’s an honor. I see a number of
friends, many of whom I haven’t seen for years, a
few I’ve seen in recent days. Dick Garwin in my
office not long ago. And I might add,
Dick embodies some of what I will be
talking about today, which is effective lobbying. But Henry Kendall was
really a living testimony to how scientists and
politicians can work together to further public welfare. And he testified numerous
times, of course, before Congress about issues of
safety and planetary survival. But it’s his
leadership of the UCS that particularly impressed me. It’s deeply rooted in a belief
that with accurate information, public and
policymakers ultimately will make the right decision. He had a rare gift
for taking a long view and understanding how human
activities and natural systems are intricately interconnected. He encouraged all of us to not
shy away from the big problems facing the future of humanity
and the natural world. And I think it’s
fair to say that he used his scientific abilities
to identify those big problems and to frame the questions. I have been a member
of UCS since, I think, certainly the early ’70s. I believe since my first
year in graduate school. And Henry Kendall
was a role model, not because I aspired
or ever expected to be a Nobel Prize
winner in my physics, but because I was constantly
searching for ways to apply my science for the public good. And he offered a
model for doing that. I’m often asked why
a physicist would leave a perfectly good job
helping to run a major research lab to roll around in
the muck of politics. I’d spent many years teaching
at Swarthmore College and elsewhere. And it’s a long answer, too
long for this discussion, but there are
several parts to it. One is, of course, anyone
who knows my background knows that it was in my blood. I grew up surrounded
by politics. My father was a US senator. The youngest person, in fact,
ever elected to that body. And my mother was Secretary
of State of West Virginia, the only woman to have
held that position. And although through
most of my career, I was working as a
physicist in the laboratory and the classroom, I also
was looking for opportunities outside the classroom. I worked for a couple of
years for the New York City Environmental Protection
Administration. I worked for the
US State Department on arms control and
nuclear nonproliferation for a couple of years. And I spent a year as an
American Physical Society congressional science fellow. And that’s when I
really thought hard about the interface
between science and politics, science and
Congress in particular. I certainly remember our first
week, our orientation week as congressional fellows. Several dozen mostly mid-career,
some young, some older scientists,
microbiologists, chemists, physicists getting briefings
from the Congressional Research Service and the Office of
Science and Technology Policy, and people from the Office
of Technology Assessment, rest its soul. And we were sitting
there somewhat nervous whether we had made
the right decision to leave the laboratory
or the classroom for a year to work on the Hill. And one speaker
said, now, of course, you understand that here
in Washington, facts are negotiable. [LAUGHTER] And we squirmed
nervously in our seats. And the next day,
a speaker, I think it was from the Congressional
Research Service, who said, you must understand that
here in Washington, we treat facts differently. And finally, still
a day later, we were beginning to understand
what we had gotten into when, still, another speaker said,
of course, in Washington, perceptions are facts. [LAUGHTER] But we did learn
a lot that year. We learned a lot about the role
of science in the Congress, and what science does, and
what it doesn’t do there. We certainly learned
this important lesson that you’ve all heard,
usually attributed to Tip O’Neill from right
down the street here, that all politics is local. And I think that even applies to
global warming, global climate change, and to comprehensive
test ban treaties, and any number of other things. The district I
represent in New Jersey, the 12th congressional
district, is a swath across the central part of
New Jersey from the Delaware River to within four
blocks of the Jersey Shore. It’s a sprawling
suburban district, and one of the best
educated in the country. About 2/3 of the people there
have college education, nearly twice the national average. There’s a heavy concentration
of research and development in the district, and some
colleges and universities. [INAUDIBLE] knows one
of them of Princeton, but also some other fine,
less well-known colleges and universities in the area. In this district,
there are some people who appreciate the importance
of research and development in our economy to maintain
the kind of growth that we hope we could
maintain in order to deal with almost
anything else material that our government deals with. There are some
people who understand the nature and role
of science in society, but really not so many. My district is not that
different from most districts around the country. The scientists there
shy away from politics. The politicians there
shy away from science. They often seem to be
in two separate worlds. And, indeed, it does seem that
the perceptions are factual. I think I am in a
privileged position. Certainly, it is a
privilege to serve in the House of
Representatives to represent nearly 700,000 people,
to try to balance the interests of 700,000
people, something that one former
physicist who has worked for many years on
Capitol Hill talks about as trying to feel the heft
of the different issues. Not to balance these issues
in any analytical way, because to do so would overwhelm
any bank of parallel processors that you could come up with. But it is an honor
and a challenge to represent this district. The members that I
serve with in Congress are a remarkable set of people. Most of them, by and large,
very, very good at what they do at balancing
these interests. It’s frustrating from
the outside to watch it. And I must tell you,
from the inside, it is sometimes frustrating. Although, having
worked on the Hill as a congressional fellow
nearly two decades ago now, and having spent the
intervening years around Capitol Hill a great
deal, nothing that happens there would surprise me. It is very effective at
representing society at large. Congress and members of
Congress value science, but they would be hard
pressed to tell you why. The House of Representatives
is, if nothing else, representative. They represent the
hopes and the fears of the people of the country
and the misapprehensions of the people at large. The members of
Congress, by and large, are smarter than most, but not
necessarily wiser than most. Certainly, none of us is wiser
than the collection of people whom we represent. And that’s something
Henry Kendall understood. Henry Kendall understood
that to influence public policy, in
other words, to lobby, used a couple of approaches. One appealed to the wisdom
of society at large, and one appealed,
Henry appealed, to the wisdom of individual
members of Congress. He realized that it took
a two prong approach. I feel that I have
a responsibility to try to help my
colleagues in Congress understand science,
understand the terminology, and techniques, and
technicalities to the extent that they are relevant
to the policy issues, but also to understand the
role and goals of science. I was working
under the tutelage, I would like to say, of someone
who was remarkably wise, and whose loss we also
mourned this year, and that’s George Brown. Congressman Brown
from California understood better than
anyone in Washington in the past 20 years, if
you’ll forgive me, Ernie Moniz and others, he understood
better than anyone in Washington the role and nature of
science, and was generally good at communicating that. But one person isn’t enough. We need to work on
communicating that to the members of
Congress, both directly and indirectly through the
input from the citizens. But ask me if I think
the views of scientists carry any special
weight on Capitol Hill, and what factors
enhance or degrade the credibility of scientists
who want to participate. Well, there is
significant credibility granted to the independent
and thorough approach inherent in science. And when scientists are
successful in articulating the meaning of science and
scientific research in the ways that Congress and the general
public can understand, they are then regarded
as valued experts, and often asked for
testimony and hearings, and consulted in
legislative matters. They are seen as smart
people, but smart people who might be able to
argue equally well on either side of the issue. You have your scientists
and my scientists. So in that sense,
scientists are sometimes, in fact, too frequently seen
only as another interest group. And this is accentuated
when it is apparent that so-called science is
used to develop predetermined results for political
needs, as seems to be the case in, I would
say, the tobacco industry and in other special
interest groups, as they try to employ
junk science to support their position. So the Sound Science
Initiative that Henry launched is to be applauded. A misunderstanding of
the scientific method by politicians can
lead to problems, like the one that has
developed regarding public access to scientific data
funded under government grants. A year ago at this time
of year, as we approached an appropriations
train wreck, to use the parlance of Washington, as
we seem to be approaching again this week and next, in an
omnibus appropriations bill, there was hidden some language
a Senator Shelby insertion that requires that all data
obtained with federal grants be available to requests under
the Freedom of Information Act. It was added without a hearing
without open discussion. Final regulations
are now in place. And while the openness of
scientific exchange that exists in the
research community is vital to maintaining scientific
progress and vibrancy, this legislation, instead
of creating more openness, will, I’m really
quite convinced, create several problems for
the scientific community. It will subject
researchers to harassment by groups with ulterior motives. Universities will have
to deal with the costs and develop administrative
ways of responding to requests for information, as
well as protecting the researchers from those who
wish to politicize science. The openness of
scientific exchange that exists in the
research community is vital for maintaining
scientific progress. And this legislation,
I think, will make industries reluctant
to continue or enter into partnerships with
federally funded researchers. Once data are commingled
in a partnership, it may be difficult
to distinguish data produced with
federal funds and those produced with other funds. The resulting reluctance of
industry to enter partnerships will significantly hurt
fast-paced high tech industries. And as another example, tobacco
companies and organizations like the National
Rifle Association are already using
intimidation and freedom of information threats
to stop research that shows that their products
or procedures are harmful. This legislation will
open up researchers, I believe, to
further harassment. I’m taking an active role in
combating this, working to try to repeal this provision. Here again, the late George
Brown, who had, I think, the clearest grasp of the role
in the process of science, recognized this instantly. He found this buried in
the omnibus appropriations bill of last year, and
immediately sought its repeal. It’s going to take a while to
build the political support to get the repeal. It really depends on what
effect these regulations have on researchers. But I have now taken the
principal sponsorship of the George Brown
bill to repeal this. I don’t know what
the relationship was between Henry Kendall
and George Brown, but I do know that
George Brown worked for at least the last three
decades on a number of issues where he must have had
close association with Henry Kendall, be it nuclear safety,
anti-satellite weapons, the banning of
anti-satellite weapons, International Science
nonproliferation to name a few. And he, like Henry,
was fearless. Each of them put at risk
their principal work. Remember, Henry got
involved in politics. He dirtied his hands
before his reputation as a scientist was as secure
as it eventually became. Similarly, George Brown
would dirty his politics with his fearless
pursuit of his vision where his clear thinking
and his scientific thinking led him, regardless of where
the political chips would fall long before he was safe. And, in fact, he was
never safe politically. George Brown was at great
risk every two years, as, well, a number of us are. [LAUGHTER] So that is why we
honor Henry now, because he had
this fearlessness. He recognized what
was important, and he went after it,
damn the torpedoes, but also asked
one way to improve the manner in which
scientific input would be utilized in Congress. Well, I can say that
simply, one way to do it would be to revive the
Office of Technology Assessment. I still shake my
head in disbelief that Congress would abolish the
Office of Technology Assessment and say, in effect,
don’t tell us. We don’t want to know. But that’s what happened back
in 1995 in the 104th Congress. And the climate now will
not allow its rebirth. I’m hopeful that in
about a year and a half, the climate will be different,
but we can talk about that. I won’t sit down without
mentioning science education. That’s what it
all comes down to. It’s dearest to my heart. Of course, in the 10 years that
I was at the Princeton plasma physics laboratory, certainly,
I got the most satisfaction from my work in
science education, founding a series of programs,
a number of programs, in fact, in science education, doing
my best to involve scientists in the schools. It probably was the
most significant thing I did at the plasma
physics laboratory, with all of the important
work that goes on there. Promoting science
education is a vital step in ensuring that the public has
an understanding of science, not just an appreciation
of the fruits of science, but an understanding of
the methods of science, to know how to evaluate sound
science from bogus science. And it starts in
the earliest years. I don’t need to tell you the
importance of science education for all students, not just
for future scientists, but for all citizens. I think it should take
the form of every science for every student
in every year so you don’t have to wait
until your senior year to take physics or your
junior year to take chemistry. It should be
integrated throughout. But if you think for just a
moment what a revolution that would be in the
training that you had to have more integrated
interdisciplinary science, but if you think about what
a difference it would make for an organization
like UCS if we did approach science that way. There was an article in the
Washington Post this week, an excellent op ed piece by
none other than Newt Gingrich, arguing why we must invest
in research and development. It was quite a good article. Vern Ehlers, the other
physicist in Congress who sits on the other
side of the aisle from me, copied the article and sent
it out to all colleagues. Previously, I had talked
to my staff and I said, should I copy this and send
this out to all my colleagues? And I’m still kicking
myself that I didn’t. [LAUGHTER] But he talked about
not just the importance of the fruits that come
from a vigorous federally funded research and
development program, and what that meant for the
research and development programs, privately funded,
corporately funded, and so forth, but he also talked about
the lesson of understanding– he didn’t put it in
these words, but I would put it in these words– how to think. That’s the lesson that we would
learn from a science education program that I envision for this
country, a science education program that teaches people
why research is good, not just that it
powers our economy, that it provides the new
ideas that we need for growth and productivity, but a way
of thinking that challenges are previously held beliefs. We all, as you know, go through
life looking for evidence to confirm what we
think we already know. I envision a science
education program that leads students to use the
methods of science every day to challenge what they
think they already know. Henry Kendall did that
on a societal scale. And that is why we celebrate
him and his memory today. And I’m honored to be here to
join you in that celebration. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] HOWARD REESE: Thank you, Rush. It’s very hard to cut a speaker
off when they keep saying, Bud asked me to talk about this. So if you all do that, we’re
going to be in trouble. Let me now turn
to the perspective of a journalist, Sharon
Begley from Newsweek magazine. [APPLAUSE] SHARON BEGLEY: Thank you, Bud. When I saw the
composition of the panel that Bud had put together
for this afternoon, my first reaction was, let’s
just dispense with the niceties and call us the forces of
darkness, because you have on the one hand, Congress,
which sort of willfully tries to torpedo environmental
legislation on issues that you all care deeply
about, and the administration, which, at least in
the eyes of some, fails to show the courage and
leadership that many of us feel are needed on
environmental issues. And then, of course,
the press, which doesn’t cover the stories as
well or as much as many of you would like. But there you have it. And it’s nice of you to
hold your rotten tomatoes. [LAUGHTER] That said, there
is, I think, a lot of fairly good environmental
coverage in the press. But I’ll focus on why
there’s not more of it and why it’s not better,
because that’s a lot more fun. If you were my reporters and
I was the assignment editor at a newspaper, or a news
broadcast, or a magazine, here are some stories that if you
came and proposed them to me, I could almost certainly
guarantee you 50 column inches or two minutes in primetime. DDT got a bum rap. There was no reason to
ban it, and doing so reflected junk science and
environmental hysteria. TCE has also been
unfairly pilloried. TCE is best known as
the organic solvent that was present in
the drinking water wells in Woburn, Massachusetts. That’s the town where some of
the children died of leukemia. It was a subject of the book
and then the movie Civil Action. Third, EPA’s program to
test 15,000 chemicals for their endocrine effects
is also junk science and a waste of taxpayer money. And four, global warming
and climate change will be a boon to at least
some regions of the world. Now, these, unfortunately,
are not hypothetical examples. These are stories that ran. And they did not run in
out of the way outlets. They ran in, in order, the New
York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and,
mea culpa, Newsweek. I won’t read you
from each of them, but I just took the DDT one. I’ll read you a few
of the excerpts. Many scientists doubt
that DDT is much more hazardous than malathion. This was written when New
York City was apparently besieged by mosquitoes
carrying the West Nile virus, and undertook a program of
aerial spraying of malathion. Rachel Carson had little
scientific expertise. She mistakenly claimed
that DDT causes cancer, which wasn’t proved
then, and still hasn’t been. And then the obligatory quote
from the eminent scientist, there’s never been
any good evidence that DDT is harmful to humans. There’s some evidence
that it hurts birds, but even that’s iffy, unquote. And finally, DDT
might have contributed to the decline of
populations of some birds, like Eagles and Falcons,
although some scientists have long attributed the
declines to other factors. So as Congressman
Holt was saying, you have your scientists, and
the other side has theirs. What I think these stories
and these story selections illustrate is that
editors these days put a premium on high drama, on
sensationalism, and especially on stories that
appear to contravene the conventional wisdom. Now, maybe it’s to your credit
that issues like climate change and the perniciousness
of environmental toxic is now perceived as the
conventional wisdom. In many spheres, they are. And therefore, to take
a position questioning that is deemed somehow
good journalism or at least worthy of
some significant play, because if nothing else,
you get talked about and you get people talking. And I also don’t know how
we’ve gotten to this point, but to write a story or to do
a newscast that really takes the position advanced
by the coal industry or the chemicals industry is,
at least in many journalism quarters, perceived as somehow
braver and smarter than taking a line that
would be attributed to the environmental community. So that category of
stories is the first entry on what I would
call the taxonomy or the biodiversity of
stories that have elements of science and public policy. The second category relates to
quantity, rather than quality. And it’s one I call
the Franco syndrome. Those of you with long
memories will perhaps recall that the Spanish dictator
lingered on his death bed for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. And I suppose the
wire services did– well, they certainly could
have moved a story every day, saying, Franco is still dying. Franco is still dying. Franco is still dying. For many environmental stories,
we have the problem of, the world is still warming. Species are still vanishing. How does that differ this
week, my editors ask me, from the conditions last week,
or last month, or last year? There’s a reason these things
are called newspapers, and news magazines, and news broadcasts. For those of you who
care about these issues, you have to make
a concerted effort to explain to people
like me what happened. What’s different
this week from last? Why should I be doing it? How can I convince my editors
that this deserves space more than a movie
review, or an earthquake, or all of the other issues
that are competing for space and for airtime every day? The third category
of story comes from the multi-handed reporter. On the one hand, we have this. On the other hand, we
have something else. On yet another hand,
we have something else. You see these kinds of
stories because reporters, even those who cover science as
their beat, are not scientists. Very few of them have
science training. That’s changing a little
bit, but it will still, for many years, be the case. They therefore feel
unqualified to make judgments. You can’t get in trouble
if you simply repeat the arguments of both sides. This is a tried
and true technique. It carries over from
political reporting from reporting on
social issues, where if you are doing a story on,
let’s say, school vouchers, it’s perfectly legitimate to
say this size says this will be the outcome of issuing
school vouchers so that parents can send
their kids to private schools with taxpayer money. The other says, no, this
will be the outcome. For many issues like that, there
simply is no defined answer. And by giving both
sides, you have done your journalistic duty. This carries over
into areas of science. And it is the job, the
responsibility, perhaps, of those of you who
care about these issues to explain to people like me how
a question like climate change is not like school vouchers. There is a consensus
on climate change. If you can point out to me where
to find it, and what it is, and why that
consensus exists, that will go a long way to disarming
the multi-handed reporter. Now, in all fairness,
there is a lot of science that is too knew for
there to be a consensus. One emerging issue is
genetically modified foods. There was a paper
just over the summer in nature, which looked at
fields that had been planted with so-called Bt cotton. This is cotton
that is engineered to carry a gene so that it
expresses the insecticide known as Bt. Turns out that in these
fields planted with Bt cotton, pink bollworms, which are
a leading cotton pest, developed resistance to Bt. It’s very common. This has been the bane of
the use of insecticides since World War II. However, the resistance was
carried on a recessive gene. The scientists argued
that that was OK, because given random mating,
recessive genes generally are not expressed. They would not be
expressed to such an extent that the entire population
or a significant fraction of the population of pink
bollworms in any field would be resistant
to the insecticide that you have engineered
your cotton to produce. But other scientists
came along and said, but these resistant
insects develop more slowly than the susceptible insects. Therefore, they would be out
of phase for random mating. When the susceptible
insects were ready to mate, they would mate with each other. But here you have
these laggards, who tend towards
developmentally slowed, but who carry the
resistance gene. There’s none of these
guys to mate with. They mate with each other by
simple Mendelian inheritance. A fair proportion of
them would therefore express the resistance
gene, and you would have a field of
Bt-resistant pink bollworms. It’s too early to know which
of those positions is right. And to do justice
to the story, I don’t think you can do more
than present both positions. As I said, I think
that’s the exception, at least among
the issues that we heard described
this morning, where there is a consensus opinion. So I’d like to
spend a few minutes on how those of you who
are scientists and who care about these issues
can help us report them fairly and accurately. To repeat, help us find the
consensus and understand it. Whether it’s the IPCC report,
whether it’s the National Academy of Sciences report,
whether in a field very different from
those we’re talking about today, NIH consensus
conference, these things exist. You can point us to them. Second, your, I don’t know if
I should call them opponents, but those scientists who say
that DDT is not a problem and was unfairly banned,
they’re very clever. And you have to
be equally clever. People who doubt the need for
environmental regulation are often not very forthright about
what’s known and what isn’t. It’s important for scientists
to point out that for someone to say there is no
basis for public policy, generally for tighter
regulations on pesticides or on CO2 emissions,
that has a flip side. There may similarly be
no basis for concluding that current policy
is justified. That’s an important thing
to remind reporters of. Third, too many reporters,
again wearing the skeptics hat, equate the absence of
evidence with evidence of absence of harm generally. Again, a lot of us know that
those two are not equivalent. Scientists are often not
explicit about the distinction, especially scientists who
oppose regulation on the issues that we’re talking about. Again, point that out to
people like me who call you. Fourth, scientists,
especially on issues that are highly polarized,
are more and more labeling as false or wrong
interpretations of evidence that they simply do
not regard as valid. I tore out a commentary
from Nature Biotechnology on GM, genetically
modified foods. And eight times in the
course of a one-page article, the scientists labeled as
rumor and innuendo allegations that there was anything to
worry about with genetically modified crops. Here– and I don’t have to
remind this audience of this– the more accurate distinction
is between facts and hypotheses. The debate over that is one
of the essences of science. When I call you
about some issue, it’s very helpful
for you to explain to me what are the facts. What do we know based on
solid empirical evidence? And what are hypotheses that
deserve further investigation? Fifth, scientists could be
much more helpful and more explicit about what
is a value judgment and what is a statement with,
again, solid empirical support. At least some of the
people who downplay the risk of climate change,
of loss of biodiversity, of environmental toxics do so
because they see other issues as much more important. The lack of clean water to
much of the world’s population, tobacco. But they fail to say
explicitly that they are making a value judgment. So when someone says
to me, oh that’s simply not a major risk, that’s
not an important risk, that’s not a problem that we
should worry about, it might not seem
obvious that they’re making a value judgment. But to a reporter
listening to a scientist, often, that comes across as a
scientific statement as opposed to one that’s laden with
ideology and politics. Again, for those of you
who care about the issues we heard about this morning,
it’s helpful for you to point that out. I’ll leave you with one
final hurdle or obstacle. Scientists know that
yesterday’s heresy can become today’s orthodoxy. I’ll reach way into
the past so that I don’t trample on anyone’s
toes for an example. Continental drift. In the early decades
of this century, you would be laughed
out of the room if you said that the Earth’s
plates were moving around like the chocolate on a
chocolate-covered cherry. But today, of course, it’s
the foundation of geophysics. Reporters see it a
little bit differently. Reporters are convinced that
today’s orthodoxy can turn out to be tomorrow’s
N-rays or polywater. Reporters are always on
the lookout for something which is, today, accepted
and conventional wisdom, but which might be
overturned tomorrow. Sometimes, doing that takes
precedence over sorting out the facts. [APPLAUSE] HOWARD REESE: I
actually don’t think we need Sharon’s five
or six step process. We just need to clone her
a few thousand times over. Let me now turn to Ernie Moniz. [APPLAUSE] ERNIE MONIZ: Thanks, Bud. Actually, I think as Rush was
indicating, I think those of us as physicists in
Washington still are viewed with some kind of
suspicion and as a curiosity. Certainly in my own role
at DoE just two days ago, I was giving a talk
at a meeting of the– SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] ERNIE MONIZ: Oh, that better? I was just saying that
certainly in my role, perhaps as with Rush, as a
physicist in my job, still viewed as
something of a curiosity and many of the places
the job takes me. Two days ago, I was giving
a talk to the Western United States and Canadian Natural
gas people, guys who drill wells, pipelines, end users. And the introducer
decided that it was appropriate to tell a story
that a physicist– he knew that I engaged somewhat in
fishing, in fly fishing, that a physicist was out on
the stream before the season was open. The warden came over and
asked him to pull his fly out of the water, preparing,
of course, to fine him. The physicist
pulled out a magnet. The warden decided,
OK, moved on. The physicist, of
course, snickered. He didn’t know the
steelheads were running. [LAUGHTER] So this is a not
untypical reception of physicists in these jobs. But whatever the
case, I’m certainly pleased to have
this chance to take part of this symposium
honoring Henry Kendall. I’ve certainly personally
had the opportunity to admire Henry for essentially
my entire physics career. Indeed, my first year of
graduate school at Stanford, I worked in Dick
Taylor’s group in the Friedman-Kendall-Taylor
collaboration that proved to be so productive
in my absence, of course, since I then moved on
to a different group. Here at MIT, also
particularly in my years as department head
in physics, Henry was always very supportive. And I just wanted to
stress, he was always there also for discussions
and action in terms of undergraduate education. Particularly,
laboratory experiences was one of the areas
that he focused on. And in my more recent
public service career, Henry, of course,
stands out I think as one of the truly great
physicist contributors to shaping important
public policy debates. By the way, in the
program it says that I will give a perspective
from the White House, but actually I will
do DOE which is sort of halfway between Capitol
Hill and the White House. Let me note some of the ways
in which Henry contributed to the diverse
portfolio of Department of Energy activities. Indeed, in some ways,
the diverse DOE portfolio almost seems to have
been put together as a way to engage Henry. Science, energy, environment,
and nuclear national security issues, all of which
he was engaged in. In science, of course, DOE
is the largest supporter of basic and applied research
in the physical sciences. And of course, Henry’s
role in the work recognized by the Nobel Prize speaks for
itself in his contribution to particle physics,
a field that for which DOE is the principal steward. But beyond that, a major study
done about four years ago, the so-called Galvin
study, was one that has helped reshape our
approach to at least trying to get a more of a corporate
engagement of our laboratories with the Department, and Henry
was a very important member of that Commission. In energy and environment, the
Department’s responsibilities range from environmental
remediation of the Cold War legacy mess to addressing
sustainable development through new energy technologies
and energy policies. Henry, again, contributed in
a major way in both areas. Perhaps less well-known than
the latter is in the former. That is, the issue of
environmental remediation. Again, on the Galvin
Commission, Henry was the principal driver
and principal author for a chapter that emphasized
the need for the Department to engage its laboratories
in technology development to help environmental
remediation. To do it faster, perhaps,
to do it cheaper, and more– and perhaps even more important,
to drive towards better end states as we try to
clean up this mess. That agenda that Henry
set out, and really was the principal driver for, is
not an easy one to implement. But I think we are making
progress and, indeed, the last two days I’ve
been in Idaho precisely to advance that agenda
that Henry set out in terms of bringing science
and technology to bear on this important
environmental challenge. Of course, you’ve already
heard this morning about Henry’s extensive work
on the sustainable world, one that can help improve the
lives of an enormous number of the world’s citizens
while preserving our environmental values. Again, I would just say that
DOE’s principal role here is in addressing new
energy technologies that, in fact, address
environmental challenges at all geographical scales, from
local in an urban environment to the global issues
that Bob Watson certainly discussed this morning. Finally, in national security,
and again, Dick Garwin covered many of the issues,
the Department’s principal role is as steward of the
nuclear weapons stockpile and as a lead agency for
nuclear nonproliferation, particularly through
our work in Russia to prevent the spread of nuclear
weapons, nuclear materials, and nuclear weapons know-how. Henry’s last service
to the government, I believe the
program notes this, came when he signed out
in February of this year the Child’s Commission report. This was a report
which has served– is serving the Department
of Energy very well. It’s a report that focuses
on the human resource needs to maintain the
nuclear weapons stockpile– a declining stockpile– in the
absence of nuclear testing. And in fact, that challenge,
the human challenge in that program, is an
important one, and our ability to manage that challenge
and to convince Congress that we have managed that
challenge will be very important in the remaining
discussions in the next years on the CTBT. So as you can see, from
this discussion of what the Department of
Energy is about and areas in which
I’m certainly engaged, my personal answer to the
charge of this panel, the role of scientists in public
policy, is basically working on Henry
Kendall’s agenda. He really did advance
us in all of these– in all of these ways. He was one of, I think, a
number of faculty here at MIT, elsewhere as well but I
will focus on my home base at MIT, who I think, by
valuing public service and demonstrating it, really
helped a number of us, certainly in my generation,
to accept the challenges as they came forward. The role of– the role of
scientists in public policy is, of course, built on the role
of science in public policy. And as I just
reviewed, for the DOE, science and technology
underpins everything we do. And yet, there are very few
scientists in senior roles where decisions are taken
in the administration and including in the
Department of Energy. Which again, is
basically science ener– a science agency. Thus, the major role for most
science– for most scientists, whether inside or
outside the government, tends to be in conveying
scientific information and judgment to the
non-scientists– lawyers, et cetera–
who in fact, are those in most
positions making decisions. That dialogue, I think,
needs to be based on some very simple principles. The information
and judgments need to be truthful yet
streamlined and without the endless
hierarchy of qualifications that sometimes characterizes
scientist communications. It needs to be
without arrogance, particularly without
disdain for politics, because that is the business
of reaching decisions. And it needs to be regular and
not just offered in response to a funding shortfall. I think that guidance typifies
scientific advice that tends to be effective. Let me just mention
a few examples of the types of
scientific interaction that I think we need
to be able to reach good choices, good
policy, good programs. One role– one obviously
important role, and it’s very important
for DOE certainly, one very important role is for
the scientific community to help shape science support. There’s no need going in
here into the role of science in our society, in our
economy, et cetera, Rush touched on that. I just want to emphasize,
because even though it’s obvious I think it happens not
frequently enough, emphasize the importance of community
processes in coming forward to Washington. I think when a community
is coming in and speaking together, having gone through
its internal discussions, sometimes bloody, to reach a set
of priorities and sticks to it, it’s a very, very
effective way of moving the whole political system. Let me give you one example. In fact, I’ll draw upon
Russia’s own professional field, before politics, that is. Infusion. Infusion is a case where– the
fusion plasma science area– is a case where the
program was going along, frankly I think, having some
problems within the community in terms of its directions. Congress, in the end, decided
that it was time for that field to re-evaluate its future. The message was pretty clear. It was a 30% cut in funding
in one year to the next. This was very difficult,
as Rush knows. Some staff in the
Congress, et cetera, were viewing that as simply the
first step towards continued major declines in that field. I think that community
deserves a lot of credit. What they’ve done
is, in a dialogue involving OSTP, DOE, OMB, the
Congress, and the community, they have, in what is a
difficult process, pulled themselves together,
done a joint roadmap, provided a common vision
as to where they’re going. And in fact, this
year the budget has now started
to turn up, and I believe the field is on a much
stronger scientific foundation and one that promises
very important science results, and perhaps even,
in the long-term, an energy future. So again, but the
message here is I think it’s an example of a
community getting together, really having frank
discussions about their field, where it was going, coming–
working with the government in shaping their
vision, and in fact, I think being on a very, very
sound foundation to go forward. Let me turn to a second
area relevant at DOE where I think scientists,
again, working together– government scientists,
those from universities, in this case industry as well– come together in mapping out an
applied research future, namely that involving energy
to energy technologies. Frankly, in the–
this is actually, again, a legacy in a
certain sense of the Galvin report that Henry worked on. That report emphasized
the importance of having DOE sort of
reorganize its portfolio and engage in a road mapping
process going forward to identify the important
areas of applied research that best aligned with
our policy goals– our environmental policy goals,
for example, policy goals involving private
sector developments such as restructuring,
et cetera. That lesson was taken to heart. I think it’s an
example where it shows, I think, the importance
of our trying to get more scientists
into senior positions. Because what happens
is, in this case, and I think it’s
a good example, I think by having senior decision
making scientific leadership, one is able, then, to
energize the senior career technical people to
work with the community and have an effective process. That process this
year has gone forward, and without going
into details, it has put new energy
into the program– and that was not a pun– put
new energy in the program, and in fact, identified
three or four major gaps in the portfolio, major
opportunities going forward, that will serve our
energy goals and serve our environmental goals. So I think, again, having
emphasizing the need for us to get, I think, more scientists
in these kinds of positions, I think will help get more
of these kinds of what I view as very positive results. And finally, let me turn
to the issue of science– the science role in
framing, shall we say, major policy decisions,
fundamental decisions involving the economy
or the environment or national security. What I want to do is
just emphasize one– one point which can sometimes
be frustrating to scientists but I think in no way
minimizes the importance of their interaction. There are, of course,
a number of areas, and I can mention regional
effects of global warming, I can mention our
attempts at resolving long-term geological
isolation of nuclear waste, I can mention the
recent discussions in terms of
stockpile stewardship and the CTBT debate. Brief debate. As areas that I would say
have sort of a common– one common element, they
are areas in which, clearly, scientific technical
input is absolutely critical to reaching decisions. But in some sense isn’t enough. Data are incomplete, yes. But one can argue that
even with complete data there remains the need
for a political decision. Because at some level
there is a balancing of risk along timescales
in what is not a purely scientific judgment. If I just take the
issue of Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste,
one can imagine in that case that one has done all
of the experiments one wishes in terms of measuring
water percolation and measuring ion exchange
coefficients of radio nucleotides and doing
engineered barriers, et cetera. One still faces the
issue of a decision that’s being taken, roughly
speaking, on a 10,000 year scale. Stockpile stewardship. It’s not a 10,000
year scale but it’s a 30 year scale, let’s say, in
terms of providing assurance, in terms of safety and
reliability of weapons without integral testing. I mean, Dick went into
some of the reasons why we think that that
is, in fact, a very, very sound program and
one that does merit our committing to the CTBT. But the fact is, there are
issues that go into a political sphere and scientists, I think,
cannot get discouraged from continuing to engage
in these discussions. Sometimes it is frustrating. I’ll just mention that in the
CTBT discussion, a discussion I had two weeks ago
with an unnamed senator, involved his saying
that, in the end, he had no real substantive
objection to the CTBT but that it just seemed
too much like gun control. And he did not
vote for the CTBT. But I think what I wanted to– I’ll just end up
by saying that I think there is this
issue of a number of very important scientifically based
decisions that have to be made, ultimately political
decisions have been made, where this issue
of how one evaluates risk in the context of very,
very long timescales, is a difficult
issue, particularly in the face of rather extensive
scientific illiteracy. And so I think there are
two pathways there which we need to work on. Actually, Rush, already
addressed the issue of improving scientific
literacy in the long-term as a very important one. But the issue also is how
the science community can find the right way to discuss
these kinds of questions where you need lots of
scientific information but you also have
to supplement that with the discussion of risk in
the context of long timescales. It’s a difficult one
but a task worthy I think of those who wish
to carry on Henry’s work. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] MODERATOR: Thank you all for
those very insightful talks. Let me first ask the panelists
whether they have questions for each other or responses
to the comments made by each other. And then we’ll turn it
over to the audience. MODERATOR 2: Sorry. This is not the house mic. You have to use one
of the silver mics. BEGLEY: I mentioned– this
is a question for Rush– I mentioned that
reporters, at least, try to find the consensus
document or the consensus point of view. Friends who work
at the Academy talk about how their reports,
even when requested directly by Congress, just fall into
a black hole on the Hill. I’m wondering how
much weight, again, a National Academy
of Sciences report carries relative to
other considerations. HOLT: Well, I can’t speak from
long experience on the Hill, but I can speak from fairly
long experience around the Hill and short experience
as a member. I would say that a study of the
National Academy of Science– well, along the
line– let me back up and say, along the lines of
this prevalent view of science as another interest
group, a report from the National
Academy of Sciences has slightly more,
slightly more effect, than a study from
any other think tank. Scientists are generally
regarded as smart people so it’s smart people
that worked on it. But there is, I think,
not much appreciation of the system and
the controls that go into a report from
the National Academy. In other words, it is not
much of an appreciation– there is not a
great appreciation of the scientific approach
and contribution to a study. MODERATOR: Other
questions or comments? MONIZ: I have a
question for Sharon, although it’s probably more just
an expression of frustration. But any advice you can
give would be welcome. For example, last week I was
quoted in one of the newspapers you mentioned in your stories,
the first one in fact, and what was
frustrating was this was a case where the
reporter, who in my view, is generally a
very good reporter, called close to
the deadline, asked for a clarification
on a certain issue. It was totally wrong,
I said it was wrong, and so the result
was the article was printed as it was except
with my quote at the end which made absolutely no sense in
the context of this article. And I guess it’s a question,
observation, question, advice. BEGLEY: Yeah. That can be the most
frustrating thing but I think you described
the relevant parameters. The guy was probably an
hour or so from deadline, he had written the top
26 inches of his story and he left the
bottom inch for you. And this is, you
know, another example of the multi-handed reporter. Even if you had conveyed
this criticism to him directly, again, not
knowing who it was, but I think the
reaction would be, OK, but I gave you if not equal
space at least some space. But reporters are all too
human, but because we are, we are also very amenable
to being corrected nicely. So if you were to call this
person once a couple of days had gone by and point out
your unhappiness with this, not just personally, but
because it conveyed– it left a misleading impression,
at least next time at least the exact same mistake
would not happen again. Which is not to say a new
mistake wouldn’t happen. But it’s worth just
picking up the phone. I’m surprised that not
more people call me, to tell you the truth. I get calls from PR
people all the time. But when something is
in the news and you, as a respectable scientist has
something to say, all of us pick up our phones. We don’t even have secretaries. I would just urge more of you
who care about these issues to be– I hate this word–
but proactive. MODERATOR: Sharon, you want
to give out your phone number? [LAUGHTER] Go ahead, Rush. HOLT: While Ernie was asking
that and Sharon was answering, I thought of an
illustration of the point I wanted to make about
National Academy studies. There was, as you may know,
a National Academy study sometime in the last year,
I suppose it was, dealing– it was sort of a wrap up
of the biological effects of electromagnetic
radiation, as I recall. Non-ionizing radiation. There also was this week a
segment that I didn’t see, I gather it was a few minutes
long, on the television program 20/20 dealing– reviving the issue of
whether cell phones produce brain tumors. That segment has caused as
much of a buzz on Capitol Hill, the 20/20 segment, as
this lengthy, thoughtful report from the National
Academy dealing with electromagnetic radiation. It’s– you know,
it used to be said, you don’t mess around with
those who buy ink by the barrel in politics. But of course, nowadays–
that was, was it Jim Farley who said that? I can’t remember. But that was about 70 years ago. But now, of course,
it would mean those who owned the airwaves. And a segment on 20/20 by
those reporters, those– well, I hesitate to use the word
journalist because I think– I use the word journalist
in a positive sense and I– it seems to me this was, from
the little bit I know about it, irresponsible science. And so you don’t argue with
people who own the airwaves. MODERATOR: Last
word from the panel. Now, I’m not quite sure
how we take questions. We may have a roving
mic or it’s a fixed mix, but this gentleman has taken
the lead so it is a fixed mic. Why don’t we do this? In one other legacy
that Henry Kendall left us that you
may not be aware of, that he brought a 10 pound
gavel to our board meetings. And I know how to use
it very effectively. So we’d like, please,
to make your comments or primarily
questions very brief and we’ll try to accommodate
as many people as we can. And state your name, please. AUDIENCE: Thanks. Well, I guess you’re– well, the gavel is coming
on kind of late, I guess. I rushed up here out of
impatience, I’m sorry to say. My name is James
Williamson and I’m glad to be here for
this panel because I’m a candidate for city
council here in Cambridge, and I heard mention of
Tip O’Neill’s great saying all politics is local which
gives me the opportunity to come up with a couple
of questions which I think will be interest– it’ll
be interesting to hear your response to. The first is that
there is one question on the ballot for voters in
Cambridge this coming election day and it has to do
with nuclear weapons. And it asks the
citizens of Cambridge to approve a message
calling upon the president and government of
the United States to engage other nuclear
nations in negotiations for a nuclear
weapons convention, an international
treaty requiring a specific timetable for phased
elimination of nuclear weapons, including effective verification
and enforcement measures. So my first question
would be, if any of the panelists or anybody else
might have a comment on this, especially in the light of what
I unfortunately had to miss but was a, as I understand
it, an interesting discussion about related issues
bye Mr. Garwin. The second thing is, in terms
of the environmental issues that Henry Kendall
focused on, I think we have some environmental
issues here in Cambridge and I wonder if any of the
panelists or perhaps anybody else might have something they
might wish to say about that. All politics is local, all
science and public policy is local. And in Cambridge, just as one
example that relates to climate change, in Cambridge there is
an enormous boom of commercial real estate,
so-called development, in the city involving paving
over much of the city, reducing green space,
reducing open space, creating huge parking
lots that have– entail traffic generation. So my question is, is
this responsible policy in the light of
what we understand about the implications
for climate change and the environment? MODERATOR: Does one of
you like to respond? HOLT: Well, where– this is Rush
Holt. Wearing my political hat, I would say, in my
experience, local statements of that sort on international
strategic matters are not particularly persuasive
to those negotiating or making the decisions. It’s not that– it’s
certainly within, more than within the
rights, it may be within the interests of the
local political organizations to advance them, but I
don’t think that they’re particularly effective. With regard– I mean, I think
what UCS has done along those lines when it comes– when it
came to anti satellite weapons and that sort– I think, has been
much more effective. With regard to loss of open
space, just a brief comment. We had serious flooding
in New Jersey following the hurricane this
past month and I wanted to write an op
ed piece about what we learned from those floods
and from recent data of stream flow, the rise time of
streams during flooding, what we learned about if there was
any correlation with the loss of permeable ground
in New Jersey. And my staff, trained mostly in
politics and not in science– I’m telling a
little story on them I suppose– but
they were mystified that I would ask for this. That we might do a
little experiment here by looking at the data and write
up an op ed piece on it that did not draw from
anything that had come from the White House
or the caucus of our party. That there were some
lessons to learn in a simple scientific way. It is hard in this
society to get people to look at
simple questions of that sort as scientists. MODERATOR: Ernie. MONIZ: Let me just
add a few comments. First on the nuclear
weapons issue you raised, as a member
of the NPT, of course, we are committed to ultimate
movement towards elimination of nuclear weapons. But that is, of
course, discussed in a very broad context of
overall military postures, et cetera. And as Rush said, a
specific date at this stage, I mean, it might be a
political expression, I don’t think it will move
things quite as much today as trying to maintain the
progress that the NPT commits us to in things like
the CTBT, things like moving to start three. Dick Garwin I guess
is not here right now but he discussed it earlier. We are trying to move towards– in fact, one of things Dick
mentioned, I should say, he talked about moving
beyond launchers to weapons, and in the start
three process, we would be able to start going
in that direction, including verification
transparency, if you like, in warhead dismantlement. So I think there are very
specific agenda items out there that would make a big
difference over the next decade and certainly I think that’s
where our focus remains. With regard to the
issue you raised in terms of environmental
issues in Cambridge, although I will
say it’s obviously for other cities and towns
as well, let me just make one point. There’s the obvious issue,
as you talked about, open spaces, et cetera. Very important. But there are other issues
going on all the time that are also very important
and sometimes don’t get the attention. They tend to be more technical
and I think our areas where, again,
scientists and engineers can make useful inputs. Let me just get– telling the story of– a story of MIT. In face, I think
Francis may have been provost when
Bill Dixon started the movement towards the
combined heat and power plant, the gas turbine. This is an example where MIT
team wanted to build its own, I forget how many, 20
megawatts or something, gas turbine to provide
heating, cooling, chilled water for the campus. Environmentally, one phrasing
of its environmental benefits was that it was equivalent
to saving 10,000 commutes to Cambridge per day. It was– Bill must have started
this in 1984 or something– nominally being
allowed by changes in the regulatory structure. But in fact, Francis,
you must know, I think it took 12 years to
accomplish because of issues of how technical regulatory
issues were being handled vis-a-vis the monopoly
utilities, et cetera. These are technical issues very
important as we move forward in evolving the energy system in
ways that will ultimately have major environmental impacts. MODERATOR 2: OK. The next question, please. AUDIENCE: My name
is Henry Myers. I’m asking this question
to Congressman Holt in the context of the CTB having
been an issue more or less in its present form
for more than 40 years. HOLT: Yes. AUDIENCE: And that
is, how do you explain the congressional
majority having a view of the CTB that differs
so much from those expressed tonight by Dick Garwin? HOLT: I don’t have
a good explanation. I really don’t. There’s– after– yeah. After all these years I don’t
have a good explanation why they have turned– why opponents of that have
turned a blind eye to the very cogent arguments and persuasive
arguments of the arms control community– let me, for
shorthand, call it that– over the years. I’m sorry. I wish I did. MODERATOR: Does
anyone else want to– HOLT: But, obviously, the
proponents of the ratification didn’t have the
answer to this either. MODERATOR: Anybody else want
to take a stab at that one? I will, and I’ll give you
three or four answers. One, I think the timing
was very unfortunate. This was clearly an effort
that needed a longer time frame for the proponents
to better prepare for and to make their case,
and because the vote with the debate was
limited to 12 days, it was a massive task
on our end to try to make the arguments
that I think would have been important. I think it was obviously a very
political and very polarized debate that had as much to do
with getting Bill Clinton as it did stopping the treaty. And I think, unfortunately,
that polarization created a climate in
which the few people who really, for their own reasons,
wanted to oppose this treaty– I think for wrong
reasons– could dominate. And a lot of it,
I think, is just timing that it was
very unfortunate. AUDIENCE: Except the
arguments aren’t new. The arguments have been
around in their present form for a very long time. MODERATOR: That’s right. HOLT: That’s right. Bud, I would agree
with your observations. There’s no question,
this was a staged defeat. MODERATOR: Yes. HOLT: It was staged out of
a hatred for the president. There is– hatred is a
destructive sentiment and there are some on Capitol Hill who
just can’t stand the president and it clouds their judgment
in some cases and they– and it was part of
what was going on here. But it doesn’t answer– I don’t think it answers
the question of why, after all these– Trent Lott was able to
recognize that there was not sufficient support
and so if he could stage a defeat of it this way
by bringing it up quickly. But it does not– and he recognized
this lack of support. But the question
remains, why was– why is there out in society
this lack of support and among society’s
representatives this lack of support
after all these years of cogent arguments? MONIZ: I’ll just
add one last word. First of all, I agree
with more or less the political
observations which have been made, although I do
point out, Rush, of course, that certainly polls indicate
that roughly 80% of the public, in a nonpartisan way, support
the comprehensive test ban. Let me just add– we’ll get there. We’re going to get there. It’s going to take another
couple of years probably. The other thing I
will just mention, and this does go back to
the scientific discussion, and Bud said there was not
perhaps the time to do this, but we do have to make
a better articulation of the science-based
Stockpile Stewardship Program and we need to articulate
better what the verification issues are. I think Dick, Dick
Garwin, said it correctly. No one’s going to argue that one
has verification down to zero. That isn’t the point. In going to zero
yield, however, we feel very confident that
militarily or strategically interesting testing
programs would be detected. And so, ultimately, the
question that never got asked is, no matter
how you assign risk to some of these
issues, and there will be a difference of opinion
as to how you assign risk in detail, no one ever
finally came around to asking the question,
really are you better off with the treaty or without it? And I don’t think any
reasonable assumption of risk could possibly lead
to the conclusion that you were better
off without it. MODERATOR: Next
question, please. AUDIENCE: Hi. Judy Gilmore from Rhode Island. I’m concerned– I wanted to– I was hoping that those
scientists of you who are working in
Washington would be able to help us focus on how
scientists can be effective– create an effective interface
with decision makers who innately either feel that
decisions are always negotiable or that they can be bought when
we’re used to dealing with more finite entities as you
are looking at, well, what made us have a flood this
time and what can we measure. So we’re used to looking at
measurable things that you can ultimately hopefully prove
right or wrong and you’re– all the decisions are
being made by people who ultimately don’t
accept anything as finite and who feel they can negotiate
their way out of any box. Thank you. HOLT: Well, of course,
it’s interesting. Scientists are much more
comfortable with uncertainty than politicians are,
believe it or not. Even though scientists have
this reputation, obviously, for being– dealing only with
cut and dried facts. In the op ed piece
that I referred to that was written by Newt
Gingrich this past week talking about research and
development, he asked the rhetorical
question, well, why is it that scientific
research has not gotten the support it should? And he said, in his experience,
and I would confirm this, I would concur with this
anyway, that scientists are among the worst lobbyists
that he has ever seen. I think we really have to–
we have to work on that. There are some, a few in this
room, Henry Kendall and others, who have over the years
been effective lobbyists up to a point. But by and large
scientists are not good. If you’re looking for
specific techniques, there is a nice handbook on
some of the specifics of dealing with members of Congress written
by Bill Wells, William B. Wells, published maybe
10 years ago or less, published by the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. I think there was a joint
publishing effort and I don’t– and it was something
like communicating with Congress, a guide for
scientists and engineers. Maybe 100 or 150 pages long. A nice book. I recommend it to you. I’m not sure whether it’s
still in print but it’s– it’s on the internet. William B. Wells. So– MODERATOR: Good tip. HOLT: –I recommend that
to you for techniques. MODERATOR: Good tip. Thank you. We’ll take three more
questions and that will be it because
you guys have done a good job in keeping it short. So go ahead. AUDIENCE: I’m Burton
Richter and a physicist and this is addressed to
Rush Holt and Sharon Begley. Most scientists think
that there is a way to arrive at some sort of
consensus on scientific issues, whether they be the
science behind the test ban or the science
behind global warming. Yet, Congress does
not seem to want to set up such a mechanism. You, Rush, said that not
only did they abolish OTA but there was no way to
set it up for at least a year and a half. And Sharon Begley,
if I can paraphrase her characterized science
reporting generally as short, sensational, and shallow. Now, is there– what is your
perspective from both the media and from Washington on how one
can set up some sort of system that our government
and the press can draw on to get
the best consensus on complicated issues? Science doesn’t give
you all the answers. There’s politics or judgments
and all the rest of it. But there certainly
is scientific fact and scientific uncertainty. But Congress and
the press don’t seem to want to find it
or make use of it. Comments, please. BEGLEY: As I said at the
beginning of my remarks, I was focusing on the stories
that fall short of the ideal. I think, in all honesty, we
have to say that coverage of, let’s say, the climate
change issue does reflect the consensus expressed
in the IPCC reports more than it does what comes out
of the University of Alabama, for instance. and the Greening
Earth Society, which sends me something every week. Letting us know that
it exists is crucial. I cover science and
environmental policy, and my counterparts at
Time and The New York Times and The Washington Post do. But in the huge majority of
the papers in this country, the person who gets handed the
Greenhouse story for that week is very likely going to cover
the sewer bond issue next week. They are not specialists. They may– let
alone whether they can evaluate the information,
they often simply do not know that the information
is out there to be evaluated. It’s a horrible thing to say. The level of ignorance out
there on the part of people who are being paid to cover
this beat, but it is there. And it’s a fact of
life which scientists who are interested
in these issues have to find a way
to work around. Which– I keep coming
back to pick up the phone, send people a piece of mail. Your voice will have a
greater weight or volume if it comes from AAAS or APS,
when a group of scientists get together either via
a professional society or some other
organizing principle and comes out with
a pronouncement on an issue that does carry
weight and it is covered. Yes, there may be the
almost obligatory inclusion of a quote by someone–
by a scientist who disagrees with that
conclusion, but I think, by and large, the
consensus opinion will be conveyed in the stories. MODERATOR: Yes, sir. Burton, let me just
say, keep at it. That’s– AUDIENCE: Why won’t
you set up the OTA? What is it about Congress that
makes it [INAUDIBLE] set up its own organization and give
it this passionate advice? HOLT: Well, the OTA
was disbanded for, I think, much the same
reason that the, well, what’s now called OSTP
was disbanded under Nixon. It was delivering
information that wasn’t seen as dispassionate. It was delivering, I guess,
what some saw as judgments that they didn’t want to hear. And scientists, of course,
should not expect– don’t have the last word
on balancing the interests. But science certainly
can provide constraints on what is possible. And we have still a
lot of public education to do to help policymakers
understand that. And so, please keep at it. I’m keeping at it trying to
revive such things as the OTA. In the meantime, make
sure that every think tank that you know of consults
scientists in some of their– in some of their studies. BEGLEY: I would just
like to add one thing. Although it’s less now
than it was 10 years ago, there still seems
to be an attitude on the part of at least some in
the scientific community that to enter politics, not in an
elected capacity as Rush has, but just simply to
weigh in on an issue, or God forbid to
call a journalist, is sullying yourself somehow. And as a result, some
of the smartest people just will not get
involved in a way that could be beneficial
to the issues we’re talking about here. There’s still a perception that
the public scientist is not a true scientist anymore,
that he or she has sold out, has gone– has gone popular and,
therefore, will lose the esteem of his or her colleagues. MODERATOR: I’m going to
reiterate that suggestion one more time. Don’t just call
your congressperson, call your friendly reporter. Yes, sir? AUDIENCE: My name
is [FOREIGN NAME] but I’m international
known as Say No. The best thing is to
make a demonstration, question the demonstration
at the same time. I address it to the
lady in the middle. If you stick three
fingers of your left hand and the three fingers
of your right hand and I ask you, three and
three, how much is that. What will you answer? BEGLEY: I would say six. MODERATOR: Six. AUDIENCE: Six. Fine If I ask you, do
you like your mother, what do you answer? BEGLEY: I would say yes. AUDIENCE: You say,
ah, yeah, yeah, even if she is horrible
to you or something. But it is my mother. I like her. Now, that is the same as
fundamental education. We call three plus three
plus three in Indonesia we call rational thinking. And, yes, I like
my mother no matter what, we call that the
feeling of feeling. Emotion. But that is never,
never, never, ever given in Indonesia and I don’t know in
the rest of the world in grade school, pre-grade school,
grade school, up to you are a minister, a doctor,
that is never given in school. But I have always given this as
the basic thing in my student and I give already lectures in
1941 when there was not even a republic. I am the– I am here from
MIT and I have finished here and then it was called
here [INAUDIBLE].. When I came back here after 40
years in June, the reunion– MODERATOR: Could I ask you
to finish up quickly, please? AUDIENCE: Yes. MODERATOR: Thank you. AUDIENCE: And then ask the,
where is the [INAUDIBLE]?? [INAUDIBLE] Do you still have that thing? I want to buy it. It’s not there anymore. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Last question, please. AUDIENCE: Well, I have a
question for Ernie Moniz. I’m Dick Garwin and
this guys I worked on in ERAB, Energy
Research Advisory Board, panel in 1989 or
1990 looking at cold fusion. And this year the Department
of Energy, I noticed, has a nuclear energy
research initiative that I supported
in the abstract. But one of the 10,
I think, awardees is George Miley at the
University of Illinois, who has a big grant to
look at cold fusion and eating up radioactive
materials in that process. And I was just wondering how
the Department of Energy– what decision procedure
it uses in this case? [LAUGHTER] MONIZ: Thanks, Dick. [LAUGHTER] MONIZ: The Neary program that
you so wisely supported is– let me say a couple words. It’s a new program this year,
small program, $19 million, which is looking at reviving
research, in some sense, in terms of longer term
use of nuclear fuels, nuclear fuel cycles,
proliferation resistant fuel cycles, et cetera. The program is a peer reviewed
program, a competitive peer reviewed program. I would say the program is
learning how to do peer review. It has not been the custom
in that program to do that. I think, by and large, the
process worked extremely well. There was one award, a tentative
award, that raised some issues. It has gone back for a
second round of peer review. Which is completed but I
would not discuss it here. HOLT: You know, there
is an old tradition that if something falls in
disrepute you change the name, and I gather there is a
resurgence now of chemically induced fusion. MODERATOR: Well,
thank you very much. I promised that I would
show this short film. We took a risk this
morning in putting together this program in starting with
science and religion, which is like oil and water. I’m now going to spend a
couple of minutes on science and Hollywood, which is
an equally unlikely mix. But this was a fascination
of Henry Kendall. He would often call me
each week and say, gee, that entertainment industry
has an awful lot of power and ability to reach people. Isn’t there some way we
could harness some of that? He made some forays out to
Hollywood, most of the time unsuccessful, but finally
they bit and a group of people came to us about six
months ago and said they would like to
make a public service announcement on climate change. They needed help with
keeping the facts straight and would the Union of Concerned
Scientists like to help? And my first reaction
and Henry’s was, well, it’ll be a PSA, it’ll come
on at 4:00 in the morning, we’re not going to
reach very many people. And they said, no. You know when you go to the
movies and you sit there and you see previews
of upcoming shows? That’s the spot we
want to give you, and we’re going
to give it to you in 8,000 movie theaters across
the country for two months. So we proceeded, and what
you will see in a few moments has not yet been seen
east of California. It has started appearing in
movie theaters in California. It will move east over
the next several months. In many ways, it is a tribute
to Henry because he started it. But equally important, I think
it’s apropos to this panel that we heard a lot about how
to better articulate and make our case, both the policymakers,
the media, and the public. Bob Watson went through maybe
65 or 70 overheads this morning. I think if you picked out a few
themes in there, one of them or two of them
were climate change is likely to screw up
the hydrologic cycle, it’s likely to make some places
wetter and some places drier. We tried to take
that and distill it with friends in Hollywood
down to 60 seconds and this is the result.
And then after this film, I’ll turn the podium back
over to Francis Lowe. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – It took billions of
years but it was perfect. New life coming from the old,
part of it hot, part of it frozen. A constantly moving blend
of atmospheric elements kept the thermostat perfect to
support the delicate balance. It has been called
a miracle, and when you see how perfectly
everything works together, you realize that it is. But today, the earth is warming. If it continues, what quenched
our thirst will flood the land. What filled our plates
will turn to dust. Nature is not
doing this, we are. Nature cannot stop it, we can. But we have to start now. [MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] – It’s the only planet
known to sustain life. The only one whose atmosphere
has been regulated by nature to create the perfect balance. But today the earth is warming
and nature is not doing it. Fortunately, all of
us know someone who has the power to do something. [END VIDEO PLAYBACK] MODERATOR: OK. We need to cut it off. Thank you very much. Those of you who
may not know him, that was Patrick
Stewart who is the voice of Captain Picard on Star Trek. MODERATOR 3: Finally,
we come to physics. Frank Wilczek is the father,
or one of the fathers, of the now very
successful model which accounts for almost
everything that can happen in present laboratories. So the– Frank
Wilczek is professor at the Institute for
Advanced Study in Princeton and his talk is entitled
“Quarks and Gluons, The Story of the Strong Interaction.” [APPLAUSE]

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