Nature On Candidate's Science Views

The online journal for Nature has posted several articles covering John Kerry and George Bush's respective stances on many science-related issues. First up is an interactive review of their answers to 15 pertinent questions. In this story, Bush indicates that he's been strong in enforcing environmental laws to slow the production of greenhosue gasses. Kerry reminds us that Bush pulled us out of the Kyoto Protocol and has come up with his own rules:

...the Bush administration has opposed the introduction of enforced cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions and has refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, Bush's domestic policies favour voluntary reductions by industry and moves to cleaner fuels and fuel-burning technologies.

By contrast, Kerry has promised to resume international climate-change negotiations and to match the efforts of other industrial countries to cut emissions. But he has not released any specific numbers or targets during the campaign. Furthermore, a Kerry-Edwards administration will not sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, partly because the short-term goals are unfeasible, says Devona Dolliole, a spokeswoman for the campaign. She says that they want to develop an alternative to Kyoto with more achievable targets.

For their part, climate scientists are chafing against Bush's approach to climate-change research. They are satisfied by evidence that man's emissions are contributing to global warming, and that cuts in emissions would help to improve the situation. "You can't find very many climate scientists who are happy with the administration," says Stephen Schneider, a climatologist from Stanford University, California.

Another article discusses the issue of continued Nuclear Weapon research in the US. While many would feel it's hypocritical that a nation, who threatens those who conduct nuclear research on their own, would continue such research, the Bush Administration has some news for you:

Late in 2002, the Bush administration proposed controversial plans to begin work on new designs for nuclear weapons. The idea has prompted fierce scientific and political opposition ever since.

The work was needed, according to a confidential Pentagon document, to determine whether the United States' earth-penetrating nuclear weapons could be used to destroy deeply buried bunkers in other nations that might house chemical or biological weapons.

In addition, Bush argues that the work will invigorate the minds of nuclear-weapons scientists and help them to respond more quickly to new threats. Such researchers have been consigned to maintaining the nation's stockpile of nearly 9,000 weapons since the end of the cold war.

Of course, John Kerry is deeply opposed to this practice(as I'm sure most American's would be) and feels that our current stockpile of nuclear weapons, which is quite large, is enough. Fact is, many scientists agree:

As for the need to keep the nation's nuclear scientists on their feet, existing programmes should be able to do the job, says physicist Sidney Drell at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California. Making sure that nuclear weapons work without actually testing them requires researchers to develop highly sophisticated computer models to simulate a nuclear blast. "A good stockpile-stewardship programme is a major challenge to the minds of scientists," says Drell, who has been involved in establishing such programmes.

Finally, nuclear waste is covered in a brief discussion of each candidates stance on the Yucca Mountain waste management site. Bush supports the site, claiming to have science on his side. He says we could store waste there for up to 10,000 years and has all but sealed the deal on the venture. John Kerry, on the other hand, says that science has presented serious doubts about the viability of these claims. Apparently a group of scientists has recently indicated that waste stored there could become corroded and leak, threatening local residents, since the site is very near to an aquifer and also located on a fault line. Science argues that perhaps both men are in the wrong:

The scientific truth lies somewhere between the two candidates' positions, according to Paul Craig, a physicist emeritus at the University of California, Davis, who served for seven years on one Yucca review board. In moving ahead with the plan, the Bush administration has ignored a 1995 National Academy of Sciences study which advised that, in order for the repository to be considered safe, it must be stable for 100,000 years or more, not 10,000 years as the president has advocated. "He ignored sound science," Craig says.

On the other hand, Kerry's chief criticism of Yucca, that corrosion could cause the canisters to leak, has largely been discounted by scientists who reviewed the site and concluded that it was unlikely to be a significant problem. But because there is no strong scientific consensus about whether to proceed with the site - and no clear alternative fate for the waste - the issue looks set to rumble on.

Of couse, since Bush is for the site, while science suggests it is problematic, probably gives Kerry the win by default. There's a lot more interesting articles at the page, so I suggest you check it out.
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