Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

Attracting Investors to Energy-Thrifty Buildings


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  5/25/17 – Buildings account for roughly three-quarters of all electricity used in the United States, but this tab can be cut at least in half using technologies that can be developed over the next few decades, given the right incentives for research and invention, an analyst has argued in Issues. And the World Resources […]




Kiwi Rocket Made with 3-D Printer


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  5/23/17 – A US-based company with Kiwi roots is set to enter the commercial space market with the launch from New Zealand of its new type of rocket—powered by electricity, made of light-weight carbon fibers, and produced using a 3-D printer—that will specialize in carrying small satellites into orbit. This reflects the changing nature […]




States Easing Up on Locking Up


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5/21/17 – Even as the US Attorney General is instructing federal prosecutors to treat drug crimes more harshly, lawmakers in a growing number of states are taking a different approach by locking up fewer people. Their actions, which reflect the latest evidence on how to reduce mass incarceration while protecting the public, as described recently in […]




NAFTA: Update with Care


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5/19/17 – The Trump administration has notified Congress that it will soon begin renegotiating with Mexico and Canada the North American Free Trade Agreement. As a guide, the editorial board of the business news website Bloomberg cautions that the aim should be to carefully update the agreement because it has brought a range of benefits to […]




To Power Electric Cars, Look Skyward


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  5/18/17 – Tesla has begun taking orders for a new type of solar roof that not only can power homes but also feed a companion battery for recharging electric vehicles at night, though some market challenges remain. As an energy analyst recently explained in Issues, new ways to “synchronize battery recharging with clean power” […]




Ignoring Experts, Sessions Wants to Get Tough on Drug Crime


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  5/10/17 – The US Attorney General reportedly plans to toughen guidance on prosecuting drug crimes, rolling back Obama-era policies that gave federal prosecutors discretion in filing criminal charges to earlier times when prosecutors were often ordered to press the most serious charges possible. This shift would arguably stand against the best scientific evidence, as […]




Sunscreen for Earth


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  5/10/17 – In what may be the first major test of engineering the Earth to mitigate the effects of climate change, scientists are planning to use a balloon-borne probe to inject water vapor into the stratosphere to deflect away some of the sun’s warming rays. A co-leader of the project recently examined in Issues […]




Nuclear Waste Storage: Yucca Mountain Revisited


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    5/9/17 – Congress recently took a preliminary step toward reviving the long-delayed plan to store the nation’s nuclear waste under Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and President Trump has added funds for the project in his proposed budget, though controversy remains. Shortly after the plan had been put on hold, a trio of analysts […]




The Technologist’s Apprentice


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  5/7/17 – Amid concerns about misuse of visas granted to foreign skilled workers, the federal government should develop new policies that encourage companies to train more US students and workers for technology occupations, a former labor policy adviser says, adding that apprenticeships offer a proven way to reach this aim. In Issues, an education […]




Bringing Brain Science to Court


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  4/21/17 -San Francisco now uses an unusual approach in handling young adults charged with breaking the law, hearing their cases in a special court that the New York Times calls “a hybrid of the adult and juvenile justice systems tailored to the biology and circumstances of offenders 18 to 24.” This approach aligns with […]




A Possible Key to China’s Rise as a Tech Innovator


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  4/19/17 – In Issues recently, a scholar at a major university in China described how his nation had tailored itself into a technocracy and sketched some possible benefits. One possible outcome is China’s emergence as a source of new commercial technology, as evidenced by a new study (summarized here) finding that China recently surpassed […]




Preparing for Pandemics


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  4/13/17 – The potential threat raised by the current outbreak of bird flu in China provides sharp reminder that the United States remains inadequately prepared to fight communicable diseases that break borders and spread globally. And the recent explosion of unfiltered channels of communication complicates matters, a US inventor and entrepreneur has explained in […]




Give Bats a Break


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  4/12/17 – CNN recently highlighted a team of researchers studying a cave-full of bats because, the story asserted, “Each bat has the potential to carry…some of the planet’s deadliest, but least understood, viruses…that could come to humans.” But a leading bat expert explains in Issues that focusing on potential diseases from bats is unlikely […]




Effective Fisheries Management under Attack


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  4/11/17 – A fisheries management tool called “catch shares,” described and recommended by a trio of ocean analysts in Issues nearly a decade ago, has gained advocates and opponents alike as it has been applied in various US waters and elsewhere. Now, a new study summarized here provides what the researchers call the “first […]




Framing a Geoengineering Research Plan


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4/7/17 – As the Earth continues to warm in response to human activities, the prospects of using engineering techniques to control climate change are gaining attention, the New York Times reports, noting that an important step is to invest more in research. In Issues, a pioneer in geoengineering has laid out the framework for a […]




Innovation Key to Nuclear Power Future


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  4/5/17 – To hold or even expand its place in the US energy system, the nuclear energy industry needs a new operational model characterized by innovative reactor and plant designs, revitalized business models, and smaller entrepreneurial start-ups, says a new report from the Breakthrough Institute. It aligns with recommendations presented in Issues by a […]




Needed: Foreign Skilled Workers–and Visa Reform


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4/4/17 – The United States doesn’t have enough home-grown workers with the training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that many employers need, according to a new study by a coalition of mayors and business leaders. But there is also concern that the federal government’s visa program for bringing in highly skilled temporary workers from […]




Affirming the NAFTA Partnership


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  4/3/17 – President Trump may be backing off his campaign vow to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement and reportedly may keep major parts in place in any renegotiated deal. This shift would align at least a bit better with observations offered in Issues by a policy analyst who detailed the economic gains […]




Robots Cut Jobs and Wages for Many Workers


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  4/3/17 – Based on an analysis of the capabilities that robots and information technology have or might acquire over the next few decades, an economic analyst recently predicted in Issues that strains on the US workforce will likely be great, requiring major adjustments for workers and the nation alike. Now, a new study adds […]




Yellen Knows: Boosting R&D Key to Better Economy


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  3/15/17 – In the midst of debate leading up to the Federal Reserve’s latest decision to raise interest rates, the central bank’s chair observed that changing fiscal policies alone will not generate technological breakthroughs “that would boost real GDP growth over the longer run or address the root causes of income inequality.” A long-time […]




In Defense of NOAA


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  3/13/17 – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seems marked for drastic funding reductions under the new Trump administration, to the chagrin of critics who say this would undercut important areas of science for little reward. Indeed, the government should strengthen the agency by reformulating it into a new department focused directly on ocean […]




Helping Workers in an Automated World


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  3/12/17 – Automation, driven by advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, is changing the face of jobs across the United States, as detailed in Issues by an economic analyst who added that the nation will have to find ways to adjust accordingly. Now experts from an array of fields have provided in the New […]




Navy Enlisting Robots for Sea Action


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  3/11/17 – The US Navy has bold ambitions for sea-based robots that can carry out a range of missions, a security analyst has explained in Issues, adding that a key will be developing practical systems quickly and gaining experience using them. A recent online report points to progress along several lines, including field evaluations […]




Visa Reform Still Needed–and Possible


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  3/7/17 – Controversy over the system by which the United States brings in highly skilled foreign guest workers is still roiling political waters. In the midst of the turmoil, a set of proposals for reforming the federal visa and immigration systems for scientists and engineers is already on hand in Issues, tailored to meet […]




Road Map for Road Building


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  3/6/17 – The new secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, recently pledged to look at alternative financing mechanisms beyond federal funding to pay for infrastructure improvements, including highway construction. Should she take this route, a long-time transportation analyst has already provided in Issues some options that he says capitalize on technology to collect fees directly, […]




US and Mexico: Stronger Together


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  2/28/17 – With President Donald Trump declaring his intention to renegotiate with Mexico the North American Free Trade Agreement, it may be worth revisiting an Issues article in which an experienced policy analyst laid out the benefits that NAFTA has brought to the United States. And a panel of international political, business, and academic […]




US and Mexico: Stronger Together


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  2/23/17 – With President Donald Trump declaring his intention to renegotiate with Mexico the North American Free Trade Agreement, it may be worth revisiting an Issues article in which an experienced policy analyst laid out the benefits that NAFTA has brought to the United States. And a panel of international political, business, and academic […]




Hazards of Science Reporting


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  2/22/17 – At a recent news conference, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others once again expressed concern that childhood vaccines may actually make some kids sick or cause autism—and that journalists and the government have been colluding to cover up the truth about vaccine safety. In Issues, a journalist who has covered such claims […]




Hazards of Science Reporting


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  2/16/17 – At a recent news conference, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others once again expressed concern that childhood vaccines may actually make some kids sick or cause autism—and that journalists and the government have been colluding to cover up the truth about vaccine safety. In Issues, a journalist who has covered such claims […]




India Sets Satellite Launch Record


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2/15/17 – India just set a world record (here and here) by placing 104 satellites into orbit using a single rocket, with the payload including 101 “nanosatellites” built by companies and universities in six other countries. The achievement reflects the emerging pattern in the global space enterprise, described recently in Issues, as a growing roster […]