Our Energy Future: Why American Science and Engineering Must Lead the Way

author: Samuel W. Bodman, U.S. Department of Energy
published: April 19, 2013,   recorded: June 2006,   views: 2346
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The set of challenges for the U.S. posed by global economic competition and dependence on foreign oil are precisely those that must galvanize the scientific and engineering community in coming years, says Samuel Bodman. The Bush Administration, he claims, has determined to convert these challenges into opportunities through its proposed energy initiatives. Bodman says, “America must do what it has always done best. We have to take risks: lead, invent and innovate.”

The Bush Administration has shifted funds and priorities to press ahead with programs to develop, among other things, energy from biomass, new coal technology and safer nuclear power plants. It also pledges to fund increased research in high energy and nuclear physics. And while the hope is that this multibillion dollar set of programs will help create clean, domestic energy sources to power autos and industry, Bodman says he “expects more from basic science research than new knowledge alone.”

Bodman has “vivid memories of standing in my backyard in Illinois and making out the (Sputnik) satellite over head. I remember Khrushchev saying he would bury us. It was a time of fear to be sure—of Russian capabilities and of falling behind.” He sees striking parallels to today, with our country confronting obstacles to its security and economic health and wellbeing. Just as the Cold War spurred the space race and tremendous growth in the sciences, with attendant economic benefits, so must today’s increasingly competitive world fuel U.S. efforts “to maintain our scientific and technical superiority,” which he hopes will serve as the economic drivers of the future.

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