On April 14, about a thousand people gathered on the steps of the Trenton War Memorial for the second annual New Jersey March for Science. This was one of the dozens of satellite marches in conjunction with the national march in Washington DC. Here are the speaker's remarks:
Introduction - Professor Matthew Buckley, Rutgers University
Keynote - Congressman Frank Pallone Jr D-NJ-6 (introduced by Doug O'Malley of Environment New Jersey
Jeff Tittel - Director, NJ Sierra Club
Professor Katrina Schafer - Rutgers University
Marilyn Weeks Ryan - NEA/NJEA
Alana Cueto - National Association of Hispanic Nurses
Laureen Boles - NJ Environmental Justice Alliance
Christianah Akinsanmi - Howell High School Senior
Professor Sam Wang - Princeton University
Christine Clarke - Action Together New Jersey
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Thursday, March 8, 2018
In a state where it’s legal to carry concealed weapons and it’s legal to shoot someone based on your personal assessment that they pose a threat to you, the Florida legislature has taken some welcome baby steps to promote gun safety. Their bill would impose a short three-day waiting period for the purchase of weapons similar to those used in the Parkland Massacre and raises the age for purchase of these killing machines to 21.
Granted, these are small, incremental improvements toward the safety of Florida citizens and I welcome that. But more so, I welcome the fact that the citizens of Florida now have their public servants engaged in a debate about gun safety, something that the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate refuses to do.
Monday, February 26, 2018
On February 21, several hundred people converged on the grounds of Congressman Tom MacArthur's Marlton office to advocate for gun safety. MacArthur's staff hid inside the building while parents, students, teachers, and advocates spoke outside. Here are their videos.
Opening RemarksSuzy Zander - NJ 3rd Congressional District Action Group
Advocacy LeadersCarole Stiller
Friday, February 9, 2018
I recently attended a lecture about "Project Drawdown." This is an initiative not to just cap carbon emissions, but to actually reduce the amount of carbon trapped in the atmosphere in order to reverse the scourge of global climate change.
They promote 100 solutions - some of them obvious like various types of renewable energy - to some that might not seem directly related to climate change like family planning.
I purchased their book on Amazon, and am in the process of reading it.
Interestingly, one of the 100 solutions they enumerate is nuclear power. No doubt, nuclear power does not contribute to atmospheric carbon. But it does come with other environmental and societal risks. As the book states:
"One hundred solutions are featured in Drawdown. Of those, almost all are no-regrets solutions society would want to pursue regardless of their carbon impact because they have many beneficial social, environmental, and economic effects. Nuclear is a regrets solution, and regrets have already occurred at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Rocky Flats, Kyshtym, Browns Ferry, Idaho Falls, Mihama, Lucens, Fukushima Daiichi, Tokaimura, Marcoule, Windscale, Bohunice, and Church Rock. Regrets include tritium releases, abandoned uranium mines, mine-tailings pollution, spent nuclear waste disposal, illicit plutonium trafficking, thefts of fissile material, destruction of aquatic organisms sucked into cooling systems, and the need to heavily guard nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years"
I bring this up now because the New Jersey legislature is considering propping up the economically unviable nuclear industry in the state (The bill is S877). This will be a major mistake if it passes and is signed by the governor. These subsidies would be better used in the long run to promote renewable energy, a more robust grid, and yes, conservation. I'm sure that pursuing many of the 99 other initiatives in the book would be a better use of our limited resources. Please contact your legislator and tell them "no subsidies for an uneconomical and dangerous industry."
More on Project Drawdown can be found here.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Sixty years ago tonight, the United States launched its first artificial satellite, Explorer I. This occurred almost four months after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I and three months after Sputnik II. After losing the first leg of the space race, the US Navy and US Army each rushed to be the first to launch an American satellite. Unfortunately, the Navy’s rocket suffered a launchpad failure and it was the Army who prevailed with Explorer I.
Three years later, President Kennedy challenged the American people and American scientists and engineers to be the first to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely. America prevailed when Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins splashed down in the Pacific in the summer of 1969.
The space race was not just for national prestige and bragging rights. America realized that science and engineering advancements were the keys to a powerful economy and an influential country. Transistors, integrated circuits, computers, materials, and medical advancements are just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of the pursuit of science. The phone you’re reading this on has a computer inside that’s more powerful than the one in the Lunar Module that took Armstrong and Aldrin to the Moon.
The program to land a man on the moon cost $25 billion – about $202 billion in today’s dollars. That’s much less than the tax breaks that trump is giving to the wealthiest Americans. It’s difficult to imagine the current GOP crop of science deniers investing in a program like Apollo today.
Yet, there’s a need for such a program. It would be more difficult than the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Project. It’s saving the planet from the ravages of global climate change.
One of the side benefits of the space race is that it proved that we could effectively cooperate with our adversaries on scientific endeavors like the International Space Station. But like the space race, reversing man-made climate change requires more than money. It requires the will and the acknowledgment that science is a tool and that global climate change is real. We need to replace the science deniers with sane and rational legislators who will address these issues. And just like after Sputnik, we need to support our public education system, our national laboratories, and our universities. Talent knows no bounds. We need to ramp up science and engineering educational opportunities for young women. We need to value and celebrate scientific achievements from people of all skin colors and all sexual orientations.
We face an existential threat with the unprecedented increase in CO2 in our atmosphere. Trump’s reversal of the previous administration’s initiatives is a fool’s game. It’s a game we need to ramp up and victory won’t come in our lifetimes. But our grandchildren’s lives are at stake. Sixty years from now, we can either have a planet that sustains not just life, but a good quality of life. Or sixty years from now our kids can look back at the fires in California and the water crisis in Cape Town as a harbinger that we foolishly ignored. The choice is ours.