Reframing the Energy Discussion: Cubic Miles of Oil

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In 2006, the world finally surpassed an enormous benchmark: the consumption of one cubic mile of oil each year. That’s equivalent to 1.1. trillion gallons or 26 billion barrels of oil.

In the conversation surrounding energy consumption, it can be hard to keep interest and sustain any meaningful dialogue as commentators must often wade through various units and conversions in discussing new energy sources. How does a Btu compare to a kWh? How many barrels of oil does it take to produce the same amount of energy as a ton of coal? Continue reading

USIP Investigates the Dynamics of Iranian Politics

 The United States Institute of Peace held a conference Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in Washington, D.C., to present a series of commissioned papers on the changing and static elements of Iranian politics.

The papers focused on topics such as  the effects of welfare on Iranian society, the presence or lack of the rule of law, and how the Supreme Leader should be read as an institution rather than a personality.

One of the editors, Dan Brumberg, Senior Advisor to Center for the Conflict Analysis and Prevention, explained that reformists and liberals face hardliners who reject all reform as the first step on the slippery slope to oblivion. Continue reading

Reintegrating “Outlier States” into International Community


In 2007, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote “In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it.” On June 20, 2012, Robert Litwak investigated a similar idea regarding the relationship between terminology and United States policy.

The event, called the National Conversation, was the first of a series produced by the Wilson Center and National Public Radio. Litwak, the Vice President for Scholars and Director of International Security Studies at the Wilson Center, presented his new book Outlier States about the United States’ policy dealing with states like Iran and North Korea, though the discussion focused on Iran. Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize winner, discussed points with Litwak, while Steve Inskeep, the host of Morning Edition on NPR, moderated.
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National Academy of Sciences: Lecture on Two Scientific Revolutions


The National Academy of Sciences hosted the 2012 Rosenblith Lecture on Monday, June 18 called “The Scientific Revolution: An International Play in Two Stages.”

Academy President, Ralph J. Cicerone, started the event by explaining that the lecture series is in memory of Walter Alter Rosenblith who was one of seventeen people to ever be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Rosenblith was also an Institute Professor Emeritus and former provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his most notable work was his use of computers and mathematical models to map the brain as a biophysical information handling system. Continue reading

AEI panel: U.S. must intervene in Syria

President Bashar al-Assad has left the United States with no option other than military intervention, according to a panel hosted by the American Enterprise Institute on June 25, 2012.

Arizona Senator John McCain spoke to a room of about 100 people. He argued that given Assad’s military domination of the opposition, Assad had little reason to consent to diplomatic efforts by the international community. Regarding the violence “the clear trend is toward escalation,” McCain said. Continue reading

Subcomittee Investigates Nonproliferation Metrics for Defense, Energy

On Tuesday, June 12, the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities investigated the determining metrics for nonproliferation programs.

The meeting, which was led by Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio, featured testimonies from Madelyn Creedon, the assistant secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Anne Harrington, the deputy administrator for the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation with the National Nuclear Security Administration at the Department of Energy, and Kenneth Myers, the director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and of the U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction. Continue reading

Increasing Nuclear Transparency with Satellite Imagery

FAS was pleased to welcome experts Matthew McKinzie with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Hans Kristensen with FAS, and Tamara Patton with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) this Thursday to present and discuss their use of satellite imagery to monitor nuclear forces and proliferators.

Matthew McKinzie spoke about the use of Geographic Information Systems and satellite imagery for arms control, human rights, and environmental advocacy work. Google Earth has exposed IBCM silo complexes, and observations of changes in images of the same location over time have evidenced mass building destruction on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border after the 2000 cease-fire and home demolitions in the Gaza Strip. Using knowledge from North Korean refugees, what at first appeared from satellite to be towns we now know to be prison camps. An examination of geographical overlap can also reveal locational information about Hezbollah terrorism targets in Beirut. In addition, when given known information about prevailing winds, McKinzie was able to calculate the radiation plumes that would result from a meltdown of each US power reactor at specific times during the day. The NRDC also collected data on radar throughout the US, including weather, airport surveillance, and air route surveillance radar, which, when combined with information about prevailing winds and elevation, can give essential information to the DOD about high interference areas. Continue reading

Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash


On Tuesday, the Atomic Heritage Foundation hosted a panel of speakers at the Elliott School of International Affairs to present on physicist Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences he helped run.

Andrew Brown, an author and radiation oncologist, spoke on Rotblat’s formative years before his involvement with the Pugwash Conferences. From his childhood spent in occupied Warsaw during World War I to his leaving the Manhattan Project, Brown detailed Rotblat’s transition from nuclear physicist to the “Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience,” as Brown names him in his recently published biography. Continue reading