Pay attention to candidates

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It was very revealing to listen to the recent debate between Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Tom Mullins in terms of science and the future of institutions like LANL. People who depend on science and a stable government institution like LANL need to pay close attention to current political races.
On two topics Mullins revealed his ignorance of science and his apparent disdain for those who engage real problems in a serious way.
First, on the topic of Yucca Mountain, Mullins stated that he wanted the facility opened so nuclear power could proceed in America. Fair enough, but when Lujan was asked about Yucca Mountain, Mullins sneered at his response that the nuclear waste issue needs to be addressed with more “science and innovation” at Los Alamos to solve the vexing problem it poses to future citizens.
Lujan is exactly right that we cannot ignore waste or environmental issues and that continued, well-funded, urgent scientific work at Los Alamos is exactly what is needed to solve the controversy surrounding Yucca Mountain and nuclear power. Whether its glassification or reactor waste recycling in a way that doesn’t raise proliferation issues, Lujan understands the need for advancement and the role Los Alamos can play in that. For his part, Mullins wants to stick the waste in a billion dollar hole and be done with it. Then Mullins raised climate change and stated that it is ridiculous to regulate the “air we breathe.” He said carbon dioxide is plant food and comes out of our mouths when we exhale so how can it be a pollutant? This is a bait-and-switch argument that is embarrassing coming from an adult.
Nobody is talking about regulating CO2 in the atmosphere; we’re talking about regulating emissions from coal plants, car exhaust and from cattle feedlots where massive amounts of greenhouse gases like methane originate. Moreover, the climate change topic revealed a contempt for science and knowledge on the part of Mullins, the oil industry worker. More than 99 percent of scientists involved in climate studies agree that humans are causing climate change and the evidence is obvious to anyone who has their eyes open. The fraction of a percent of scientists who disagree are highlighted by conservatives because the reality of human caused climate change is inconvenient to the oil and coal industries that need desperately to be regulated and downsized if our kids are to have a future.
We cannot allow science or real world problems we face to be trivialized by the rhetoric of right wing candidates like Mullins and Susana Martinez. If people who disrespect science are elected, what is the future of LANL? What is the future of anything that depends on serious study to solve real problems?

Tom Ribe
Los Alamos