Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

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


This article is in News Updates,


  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 […]




China Luring Chip Makers


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  2/14/17 – Turning a pragmatic face to the world, China is pressing a major initiative to attract semiconductor manufacturers and research facilities—and the plan seems to be working. In a more philosophical look at such matters, a scholar at a leading Chinese university recently examined in Issues his nation’s emergence as a technocracy “run […]




Making Wise Infrastructure Investments


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2/10/17 – President Donald Trump’s advisory team recently released a preliminary list of projects that might be funded as part of a promised plan to revitalize roads, bridges, ports, and various other components of the nation’s infrastructure. In Issues, two scholars who have studied the history of infrastructure development have proposed a set of principles […]




Productivity of Immigrant Innovators


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  2/9/17 – Among engineering and technology companies started in the United States between 1995 and 2005, a quarter were headed by immigrants, and immigrants founded roughly a third of firms in the semiconductor sector, according to a survey led by a technology entrepreneur and described in Issues. Now underscoring immigrants’ innovative impact, new research […]




Conservative Call for Climate Action


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  2/9/17 – A group of conservative policy and business leaders has released what it calls a “pro-growth, pro-competitiveness and pro-working class” action plan for addressing human-caused climate change (here and here). The plan reflects some of the concerns expressed in Issues by a conservative scholar who argued that all climate policies “must be compatible […]




Immigration of Scientists and Engineers


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  2/8/17 – Arguments are heating up over the need for, or proper balance of, visas for US-bound immigrants, including those with high-level technical skills. President Donald Trump reportedly is planning drastic cuts, whereas many corporate leaders argue otherwise. In a pragmatic earlier look this situation, a leading policy analyst proposed in Issues a comprehensive […]




Building Paths to Middle-Skill Jobs


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  2/3/17 – Students in the United States are offered few routes to middle-skill careers built around jobs that require some education beyond high school but typically not a bachelor’s degree. Issues has examined this gap in a series of articles on the importance and scope of such jobs; the skills and training they require, with […]




White House Seeking Advice on Manufacturing


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  2/3/17 – The White House recently announced the launch of a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative (here and here) to bring together business and labor leaders to offer insights into revitalizing the US manufacturing sector. Issues has already been on the job, detailing how to boost manufacturing strength by improving the nation’s innovation system and by […]




India May See Major Solar Energy Boost


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  2/1/17 – India may be thinking more ambitiously than ever about solar energy, according to an account from the Worldwatch Institute, with proposed measures including rapid expansion of small-scale photovoltaic panels and solar lighting systems. But even as the promise is bright, an analyst who spent a year exploring firsthand India’s solar energy ecosystem […]




The Science of Communicating Science


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  1/31/17 – In today’s complex world, communicating science-related information to the public is more important than ever—and also more complicated. In Issues, an experienced communication hand has proposed ways to improve the process. Now a science establishment heavyweight has, well, weighed in with a new report (here and here) that examines what research says […]




Criminalizing Immigration


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1/28/17 – As part of two new executive orders issued by President Donald Trump, immigration agents will now have wider latitude to enforce federal laws and are being encouraged to deport broad swaths of unauthorized immigrants, regardless of whether they have been charged with a crime. This reflects what a prominent sociologist recently described in […]




Robots May Save Global Economy


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  12/6/16 – The labor pool worldwide might not be growing fast enough to support society’s needs, and the answer, according to an investment manager who has analyzed the technological and demographic forces driving global change, could well be…robots. Robots and artificial intelligence will likely reduce or eliminate some types of jobs, as an economic […]




Substance Misuse Deemed Public Health Crisis


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  11/30/16 – The US surgeon general recently declared substance misuse a public health crisis that “must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion.” This new approach, commented The Atlantic, could “profoundly impact the criminal-justice system, where addicts often end up.” As part of a series of articles on mass incarceration in the United States, […]




Venture Capitalists Pursuing Fusion


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  12/1/16 – Long a holy grail in energy research, nuclear fusion is getting a boost from the sharp-penciled world of venture capital, according to a Bloomberg online report. One of those investors has also described in Issues his reasons for supporting a private company pursuing fusion, noting that “sometimes an opportunity presents itself that, […]




Avocado v. Monarch


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  11/26/16 – On lands adjoining Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, where the long-distance fliers nest as they await their next migration northward, a push to plant income-generating avocado orchards in place of native oak and fir trees is endangering the butterflies’ survival. Indeed, as a wildlife researcher has explained in Issues, habitat loss threatens […]




Space to Get More Crowded


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      11/23/16 – The private company SpaceX has announced plans to put 4,425 new satellites into space—more than tripling the current satellite population—with the aim of providing super-fast Internet coverage worldwide. This expansion is in keeping with projections detailed in a recent review of global space activities, described by its lead analyst in […]




What Are We Vaping for?


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  11/21/16 – Mounting evidence suggests that “vaping” with electronic cigarettes is far less dangerous than smoking and may also help current smokers quit, the New York Times reports, yet more states are passing laws that prohibit or discourage their use. Instead, a community health specialist has argued in Issues that states should conduct a […]




Building Ladders for Social Mobility


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  10/31/16 – All children should have a good—and equitable—chance on the economic ladder, social thinker Isabel Sawhill and colleagues have written in Issues, describing a variety of promising interventions to give disadvantaged kids a leg up at various stages of life, from before birth through entry into adulthood. In a new report, she and […]




Thinking Smaller in Space


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  10/28/16 – The White House has announced a new federal initiative to promote public-private partnerships to develop and deploy small satellites not only to aid in space research but also to help shorten the cycle of technological innovation, according to a policy brief from the American Institute of Physics. This effort reflects trends in […]




Rebooting Manufacturing


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  10/21/16 – Manufacturing’s recent anemic output growth in the United States is largely the result of globalization, and new government policies are needed to address problems, a senior employment research economist recently said here and here. In Issues, a leading observer of innovation policy has also examined what really ails manufacturing and laid out […]




Global Reach of Robots


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  10/19/16 – Artificial intelligence and robotics hold potential for disrupting the workplace in the United States, as an economic analyst explained in Issues. And these technologies are also flourishing elsewhere in the world, with industries in other regions making even greater use of robots, and with China expected to show especially rapid growth in […]