Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2019-2021, he served as the Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, executive secretary of the department's Commission on Unalienable Rights, and senior adviser to the...
Behavioral scientists have begun to argue that the findings of evolutionary science should have legal, political, and moral consequences. If behaviors such as procreation, aggression, or homosexuality are determined more by our biology than by our free will, then it is foolish, these scientists argue, to ignore that evidence. Does evolutionary science have any place in public policy? How useful is the knowledge of our biological evolution in determining the values of our legal, social, and political system?
This week, a conversation with Bjorn Lomborg, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and one of the foremost climate experts in the world today. His new book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, is an argument for treating climate as a serious problem but not an extinction-level event requiring such severe and drastic steps as rewiring a large part of the culture and the economy.
Peter Berkowitz is right to condemn abuses in the peer-review process ("Climategate Was an Academic Disaster Waiting to Happen," op-ed, March 13 ), many of which reflect the biases of both articles' referees and journal editors. . . .
In the past century the earth's human population has quadrupled, growing from 1.5 billion in 1900 to about 6 billion today. By 2050, it is estimated that the global population will reach 9 billion. In 1968, a young biologist named Paul Ehrlich wrote a best-selling book called The Population Bomb, which sparked an ongoing debate about the dangers of overpopulation. He argued that population growth was destroying the ecological systems necessary to sustain life. So just how worried should we be? Is population growth a problem or not? And if so, what should we do about it?
In 1990 the United Nations forecast that world population would peak at around 11 billion by the middle of this century. Now many experts believe the peak will be closer to 8 or 9 billion people. Is this slowing of global population growth good news for the earth's environment? Or do we still need to worry about the dangers of overpopulation and overconsumption? Peter Robinson speaks with Paul Ehrlich and Steven Hayward.
Matt Ridley discusses his new book is How Innovation Works, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the world’s economies, the real story of Thomas Edison and why he was one of the greatest innovators in human history, why China may not be the threat it appears to be (at least not technologically), and some predictions as to what the world may look like in 2050.
Is nuclear power making a comeback? More than twenty years after the accident at Three Mile Island and fifteen years after the reactor explosion at Chernobyl, the image of nuclear power seems to be changing once again. President Bush has included nuclear energy as part of his national energy plan. The nuclear industry has begun to promote nuclear energy as the clean energy alternative. And a recent poll showed that almost 60 percent of Californians favor nuclear power. So just how safe is nuclear power today? Does it make economic sense to start building new nuclear plants? And what do we do with the radioactive waste?
What can evolutionary science tell us about human behavior? During the past thirty years, biologists, anthropologists, and psychologists have begun applying Darwinian concepts, such as natural selection and survival of the fittest, to the study of behavior. Are social characteristics, such as aggression, love, and courtship, determined by our evolutionary past and encoded into our genes like physical attributes, such as walking upright or hair color? Are we slaves to our DNA, or does genetic determinism fail to explain fully what it means to be human?
During the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush said, "Prosperity will mean little if we leave future generations a world of polluted air, toxic lakes and rivers and vanished forests." So after two years in office, how has President Bush done as the chief steward of our nation's air, water, and land? Is the Bush environmental record the disaster that critics contend? Or has the administration just done a poor job of articulating its vision for new ways of caring for the environment?
Cloning—using biotechnology to create embryos with specific genetic information, identical to other embryos or even human adults—used to sound like science fiction. Today, however, the ability to successfully clone human embryos is a matter of when, not if. But should human cloning be allowed to go forward? Is cloning morally wrong, in and of itself? Should we make a distinction between cloning for medical research and cloning for procreation? If cloning is morally wrong, could we stop it even if we wanted to? And if cloning isn't or can't be banned, how should it be regulated?
Computers more intelligent than humans? Self-replicating molecular robots? Virtual immortality? These may sound like science fiction, but some reputable computer scientists are predicting they will happen within the next several decades. What will our world be like if and when our machines surpass us in intelligence? Do the advances in biotechnology, robotics, and nanotechnology, which make intelligent machines possible, pose dangers of their own? Should we embrace such a future or try to stop it?
Seafood is highly perishable and supply is often uncertain. Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of running 34 seafood restaurants up and down the east coast.
Proponents of embryonic stem cell research proclaim the potential of the research to find cures or treatments for many diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Opponents say the use and destruction of human embryos in the conduct of this research are immoral. In 2001, President Bush announced a ban on federal funding involving any new lines of embryonic stem cells. But calls to lift the ban continue, as do movements to increase funding at the state level. Which side of the debate is right? Is embryonic stem cell research ethical or not? Peter Robinson speaks with Ramesh Ponnuru and Irving Weissman.
The space program used to mean one thing: the effort to put American astronauts on the moon. That effort is becoming ancient history. We haven't sent anyone to the moon in thirty years. So what is NASA's mission today? What sort of space exploration is worth pursuing today and tomorrow? And is NASA the right institution for the job?
Global warming, population, deforestation, mass extinctions—according to environmental groups and environmental scientists, the earth is in ever more dire straits. Should we heed these warnings and take steps to mitigate our impact on the global ecosystem? Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg has come forward to say, not so fast. He claims the environmental state of the world is actually improving, not getting worse. His claims have generated a firestorm of condemnation in the scientific community. Why? And how can we in the general public separate ideology from fact in this debate?
Dr. Stephen Meyer directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He returns to Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson to discuss his newest book, Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.
In this wide-ranging discussion with Peter Robinson, Bjorn Lomborg analyzes the Biden administration’s plan to address climate change, lauds a slew of new clean energy technologies that are coming in the next decade, and discusses the upsides—and the downsides—of migrating the world from a carbon-based economy to one based on electricity generated by clean energy sources.