The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (www.citizensleague.net)

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Saturday, July 20, 2002
 
The Environment. Cars Can Get Much Cleaner. So reads the heading from the New York Times opinion piece by Fred Krupp on California's latest law to dramatically cut carbon dioxide emissions by vehicles. Krupp lists the past opposition and some of the claims of doom by the auto industry going back as far as seatbelts. It may be with punting on fuel standards by Congress that the action moves to state capitals. While this may not be the best way to do things, it may be where advances are going to be made for a while. The full piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/20/opinion/20KRUP.html?todaysheadlines (73)

Friday, July 19, 2002
 
Summer Fluff. Columnist Takes on Clichés. Canadian National Post Columnist Robert Fulford held forth on the use of clichés. Fulford cites William Safire's 1982 column on language in the New York Times in which Safire invented an excellent name for temporary and time limited cliché, "voguism." He defined it as "a word or phrase in fashion, used by writers who are with-it and then repeated endlessly by politicians and public intellectuals unable to assert their relevance without it." He recently cited two examples, "state of the art" (big in the 1980s) and "at the end of the day" (a favourite in the 1990s). We could add "window of opportunity," which I believe reached its peak around 1990. It might be fun to have contest on the "vogism of the month" in print. Fulford closes with a quotation from the authors of The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage in which they defined clichés: "They are all things to all men. Many are beneath contempt, but some are all to the good; they lend a helping hand and add insult to injury." The entire column is at: http://www.nationalpost.com/commentary/story.html?id=D33E51EA-BB40-4F93-9B17-08747744BCEA (72)

Thursday, July 18, 2002
 
The Economy. Supply of Doctorates in Science and Engineering. The 2002 edition of Science and Engineering Indicators, published by the National Science Board, indicated that there are about 10.5 million college-educated people in the U.S. with a science or engineering degree. American universities are producing more than 500,000 new scientists and engineers a year. Ph.D.s in science and engineering have been a key element in making the U.S. the world's leader in high-tech exports during the past several decades but 1996, the number has of graduates has been decreasing, primarily because of the decline in degrees earned by non-citizens, who have been increasingly drawn to universities in China, South Korea and Taiwan. The number of doctoral degrees granted to U.S. citizens has apparently stopped growing and shows signs of leveling off at about 16,000 to 17,000 annually, probably not enough to meet recruitment needs over the coming decade. For more on this see the Scientific American online at: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000BBA54-7A87-1D06-8E49809EC588EEDF (71)

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
 
Energy and Environment. Governors on Regional Electric Transmission. The National Governors Association (NGA) is working on uniting regionally to facilitate state coordination of electricity transmission planning, certification and siting. In its first report, "Interstate Strategies for Transmission Planning and Expansion," released July 15, 2003, the NGA Task Force on Electricity Infrastructure recommends the creation of multi-state entities, in part to solve environmental problems that arise from electricity generation and transmission. Steering committee members outgoing NGA Chairman Michigan Governor John Engler and Kentucky Governor Patton released the report. The task force report indicates that the creation multi-state entities might ease communication among various stakeholders over electrical generating and transmission facilities. As electrical supply markets have become increasingly regional, one state can end up bearing the majority of the economic and land use burdens of transmission lines while its neighbors may receive the bulk of the benefits. Multi-state entities would elevate the state role in regional planning and support a "one-stop" regulatory process for regional lines, Governors Engler and Patton said in their introduction of the report. Multi-state entities would provide a regional forum where states could resolve impasses that threaten to derail important projects and facilitate state's ability to determine the necessity of additional transmission lines. The full news release on which this item was based is at: http://ens-news.com/ens/jul2002/2002-07-16-02.asp (70)

Tuesday, July 16, 2002
 
Health and Human Services. Digital Divide in Hospitals Widens. Most Wired magazine has a listing of the 100 most wired hosptials in the US. The listings relate both to digital services for doctors and nurses and for patients. The report found that the gap between the most wired and the mainstream is wide and widening. The full report is at: http://www.hospitalconnect.com/hhnmostwired/archives/forward_progress.html (69)

Monday, July 15, 2002
 
Energy and Environment. Cleaning Up Coal. Evidence is pointing increasingly to CO2 emissions adversely affecting global climate yet our biggest source of energy is in the form of coal. The Economist magazine describes the use steam reformation to react a carbon-based fuel with oxygen and steam to produce a so-called “synthesis gas” that is composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. That mixture can be separated quite easily, and the hydrogen used for fuel. Mixing the resultant carbon monoxide with more steam in the presence of a suitable catalyst yields CO2 and still more hydrogen; again a mixture that can be separated quite easily and so on. This "sequestration" of carbon can lead to energy extraction from coal without the adverse environmental impacts and provide a clean source of hydrogen. The full article is at: http://economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1213257 (68)

Sunday, July 14, 2002
 
Transportation. Transit and Alternatives to Autos. In the StarTribune on Sunday, July 14, 2002 Laurie Blake listed some promising alternatives to autos including incentives for staggering work hours and funding for beefed up van pools. Seattle, for example, has at least 5,000 people a day in vanpools - to provide a little scale that is about a quarter of the real net ridership increase of the Hiawatha line and its 600 million dollars plus provides. Coming in the wake of a public preference of some elected officials within the last month for an 800 million dollar plus LRT corridor linking Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Metro Transit staff comment that funds are limited and spending more on pools would mean taking it from somewhere else is either baffling or laughable. Truly we are in a Twilight Zone world where we cannot match the paltry sums spent by Portland on carpooling and Seattle on vanpooling while we are drawing up a corridor budget that starts over three quarters of a billion dollars. This just after hiking bus fares, reducing service and all the while discussing a commuter rail line and a second LRT line. We apparently have no road map to a cost sensitive alternative to the single occupant vehicle and it is showing. (67)