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Los Alamos, Freedom of Speech, and Nuclear Disaster

As every high school student learns, the first amendment to the U.S. constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech. That’s why government employees have the right to express their opinions as long as they make clear that their opinions do not represent those of their employer.

Apparently some folks at Los Alamos National Laboratory—one of the two labs that design and help maintain U.S. nuclear weapons—missed that day in class. Read More

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Charles Mann and The Atlantic Miss The Mark in a Confused Climate Change Piece

A recent climate change article by Charles C. Mann in The Atlantic left me scratching my head. The title, “How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen” piqued my interest. It’s something I grapple with every day. But instead of focusing on how our public conversations about climate change are shifting, he lingers on what he sees as failed efforts to enact national climate policy. Mann is a serious and respected writer — who happens to work with some of my favorite magazines — so this piece felt like a missed opportunity. Read More

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Not All Forests Are Created Equal: Reforesting the Tropics for People, Biodiversity, and Carbon

It’s after sunset and getting dark fast. The electricity is out—again—so a single candle casts a small pool of light on my survey papers. Chickens peck around my feet in the dirt-floor kitchen. Wood smoke and mouthwatering wafts of dinner fill the cool Andean air. Read More

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Why Chrysler Has the “Dirtiest Tailpipe” and Why I Want to See Them Do Better

With all of the hype this week surrounding Dodge’s latest power-infused sedan — and just in time for that beloved celebration of automotive history, the Woodward Dream Cruise — I thought today I would spend a “throwback Thursday” discussing some of my own personal history with the automaker. Read More

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The Economist Ignores Reality, Highlights Flawed Renewable Energy Study

A recent article in The Economist covers a study comparing the costs of solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, and natural gas. Alas, the study starts with a fundamental misunderstanding of how our electricity system works, and goes  downhill from there. And The Economist’s attention unfortunately helps to perpetuate those errors. Here are five examples of what went wrong. Read More

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Is EPA Excessively Restricting Access to its Science Advisory Board Members?

UCS learned recently that at a closed-door meeting of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) on July 24, the EPA put forward a new memorandum from EPA Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming that seems to extend free speech restrictions to independent scientists who advise the agency. The memo is written in a way that could discourage scientists from informing public discussion around important topics. Read More

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