Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Four years ago, I gave a very positive review to Richard Muller's "Physics for Future Presidents", despite his very lukewarm treatment of climate change which, in my opinion, had more than enough scientific gravitas by that time to be treated as a legitimate national and international issue. Because of his status as one of the most credible scientific skeptics (although not really a "denier"), Muller was able to get a sizable grant from the ultraconservative Koch Brothers to fund further studies on the subject by Muller. The study's goal was to extend backward in time the historical record of hand-measured temperatures, using data that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had thrown out because it was poorly documented or otherwise unreliable. I am sure that the Kochs assumed that Muller would be reinforcing his prior conclusion, that climate change was too little understood to be worth a sizable national investment.  However, Muller changed his position after his own very minimal contribution to the science reinforced the IPCC conclusion. Of course, that's not all that you will find in "Energy for Future Presidents", which includes topical information about the Fukushima accident, the Gulf oil spill, alternative energy sources, energy storage, and fission and fusion power, among other important issues. It is a shame that energy policy (other than some political questions about the Keystone XL pipeline and misleading statistics about investments in renewables) has not been featured in the campaigns. At least there is this year the presidential candidates responses to some of the key science policy questions, courtesy  of Scientific American. You can read them at There is a lot of circumlocution there, but it is better than nothing.

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Publication Date: 
Thursday, October 4, 2012