Anybody willing to look beyond the point of their nose will recognize that the question of supplying sufficient energy for a growing world, hungry for universal prosperity, without choking that world on the byproducts of the production and use of that energy, is the major problem at the interface between science and society. A prime, much debated, possible solution to the problem is the wide spread use of nuclear energy. The problems inherent in such a solution are long run resource availability, safety, waste disposal, and the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation. This journal has published science-policy discussions of these issues from different viewpoints, in the past, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. This issue contains three articles on aspects of nuclear energy supply and one article on a method of building construction intended to minimize the need for energy and pollution. The books reviewed in this issue also address the needs and risks of alternative energy paradigms. We hope our readers will find these contributions to the energy debate useful and will, themselves, contribute further to the necessary public and professional debate in future pages of this journal.
In as much as a scientific outlook on the world around us is a necessary part of any solutions to our pressing energy and environmental problem, the letters in this issue - addressing the relation between science and religion in our society - are also addressing the same problem. If, because of a perceived conflict between science and religion, American society drifts away from a scientific, evidence-based, problem-solving, mode of thought and action in public affairs, No solutions, nuclear or otherwise, will be found to the problem. Hopefully, our readers - as leaders in science and the community - will recognize the necessary interrelation between these two, apparently very different issues, one apparently abstractly philosophical, the other very practical, and become involved in helping to productively shape our future society.
Reference 3 of David Bodansky’s article in this issue, “The Status of Nuclear Waste Disposal”, refers to an article in our July 2004 issue by William Hannum, Gerald Marsh, and and George Stanford called “Purex and Pyro Are Not the Same”. We call the reader’s attention to a subsequent point/counterpoint style set of articles in our January 2005 issue by Richard Garwin and Hannum et. al. Regarding our announcement in the October 2005 issue about a series of articles on science advice, don’t give up on us! One of us (JJM) concedes defeat on the possibility of obtaining such an article for this issue, but I’m working hard for subsequent issues.