Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
News Article | April 17, 2017
After more than three and a half years of service as the 13th U.S. Secretary of Energy, nuclear physicist Ernest J. Moniz has returned to his roots at MIT, the place where he served most of his professional career. Nominated to the cabinet by President Barack Obama in March 2013 and confirmed by the Senate on May 16 in a unanimous vote — a rare occurrence in a polarized political atmosphere — Moniz left the office on Jan. 20, 2017, with the arrival of the Trump administration. Now, he intends to build upon that experience by working on policy proposals for climate solutions through clean energy innovation, and in the area of nuclear security. In addition to serving in a part-time appointment at MIT as professor of physics post-tenure and special advisor to the president, and as a nonresident senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, he also intends to do additional work in clean energy through a nonprofit organization of his own. “Over the last few years, the United States and the world saw what we at MIT have known for decades: that Ernie Moniz is a brilliant scientist, a gifted leader, and a tireless advocate for positive change,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “I am thrilled that the Institute will again benefit from his wisdom and experience as we continue our critical work to identify practical ways to achieve a sustainable energy future and address climate change. All of MIT is delighted to welcome him home.” At the Department of Energy, Moniz led the implementation of President Obama’s commitment to an “all of the above” energy strategy, including the establishment of new programs to foster research on clean, renewable forms of energy and next-generation nuclear power. He also played a crucial role in the negotiations that led to a ground-breaking treaty with Iran to limit that country’s development of nuclear materials. He was often called the best-prepared of energy secretaries by members of both political parties. “One of the things we really accomplished” during his term at the DOE, Moniz says, “was placing innovation at the center of climate solutions.” Finding ways to push that emphasis forward — encompassing innovation in policy and economic arenas as well as in technology — will continue to be a major focus of his work in coming years, he says. This emphasis echoes the “Mission Innovation” initiative that was adopted, with the help of a strong push by the Obama administration, at the Paris COP 21 climate conference in 2015. The other area Moniz will be focusing on, nuclear security, also builds on the work he did at the DOE, both in his latest stint as secretary and earlier as undersecretary during the Clinton administration, when nuclear security, including controlling nuclear weapons materials after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was a major focus of his responsibilities. Most recently, Moniz served as one of the two lead negotiators, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, in hammering out the details of the nuclear agreement that has significantly delayed Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons and provided unique verification measures. The part Moniz played in the Iran agreement negotiations and implementation over the course of two years, in which his Iranian counterpart was an MIT alumnus — a factor that helped to facilitate the negotiations — was “a really novel role,” unlike anything previously undertaken by a cabinet member, he says. The fact that the negotiating team for an international treaty included two cabinet members on each side (including Kerry and himself) was “unprecedented,” he says. “It was a good time to be Secretary of Energy,” he says, “because the president showed successful global personal leadership in both these areas” of climate change and nuclear security. The Paris climate agreement — the most sweeping, global agreement on the subject to date — “would not have happened without [Obama’s] leadership,” Moniz says. Continuing that progress, he says, will require not just more research but better communications. He’s concerned that momentum for dealing with this issue, which grew during the previous administration, could prove insufficient, especially in a changed political atmosphere. “We could be slowed down in our needed response to the climate risks if we don’t do a better job of bringing everyone along,” he says. That work, he emphasizes, “is not on a one-year timescale. It’s more like two or three decades. We must — we will — head toward really significant carbon emissions reduction, well beyond those of the Paris targets.” And while opponents of measures to combat climate change claim that any such action will damage the U.S. economy, Moniz says it’s clear that “ultimately, this will be a net good for the economy.” However, in order to offset impacts on certain sectors of the workforce, he says, it’s paramount that “a focus will be on workers, at national, regional, and state levels.” What’s needed, he says, is a concentration on “how we can most aggressively march toward the low-carbon future that we need.” Toward that end, he intends to convene a varied group of specialists at MIT, Harvard, and elsewhere, including economists and political scientists as well as scientists and engineers. “It’s got to be a broad-based, multidisciplinary group,” he says. Together, these experts will work toward developing a set of concrete policy proposals over the next few years, keyed to the needs of specific areas. “A regional focus is the only way to eventually get there,” he says, because both the problems and the opportunities of addressing climate change vary so much by location. While researchers have clear ideas as to the kinds of carbon-free energy sources and policies needed to forestall the most devastating impacts of a changing climate, he says, “the question is how we get there, through a focused effort looking at jobs and centers for innovation.” “Few have served with greater distinction to this country,” Institute Professor John Deutch, a chemist who specializes in energy research and who has also served in government positions in Washington, says of Moniz. About his return to the campus, Deutch advises, “Welcome him back and enjoy his wit and wisdom, as I certainly shall.” Before this service in Washington, Moniz was the founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), which was established in 2006 by then-MIT President Susan Hockfield. Under his leadership, MITEI supported almost 800 research projects at the Institute, had 23 industry and public partners supporting research and analysis, and engaged 25 percent of the MIT faculty in its projects and programs. Moniz received a BS in physics from Boston College, a PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford University, and eight honorary doctorates. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Humboldt Foundation, the American Physical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III and of Prince Henry the Navigator, and the Distinguished Public Service Medal of the Department of Defense. “Ernie’s career is the blueprint for how science can be used as an essential tool to inform policy,” says Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research. “It’s great to have him back and challenging all of us to develop and enhance this important skill.”
News Article | April 17, 2017
" Leadership development begins with a support system, that helps all team members reach their potential, focusing on their gifts, talents and capabilities. The purpose is not exploitation, but functional benefit for the mission of the team. This requires a fine balance between the need for tunnel vision during execution of a mission and capabilities that support stability, health, happiness and prosperity in the bigger picture of life. Though paradoxical, the objective is a team of leaders." -- Stephen M. Apatow. From "Living On The Edge" to being the "Cutting Edge" In 1994, a small nonprofit organization named Humanitarian Resource Institute (HRI), was formed in Carson City, Nevada. The mission was to address the cross section of needs defined during two national touch outreach projects, the first for substance abuse in 1990, and second for hunger, homelessness and poverty in 1993. HRI's first project was named Focus On America. Through the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSNBP), the mission was to take lessons learned, and "bridge unmet needs to untapped resources." This project reached front-line programs and EFSNBP directors in over 3100 U.S. counties, all 50 states and territories. In 1999, the successful completion of United States networks, led to the development the International Disaster Information Network (IDIN), to assist FEMA with remediation for the Year 2000 Conversion, and then complex emergencies in 193 UN member countries. Formation of the Humanitarian University Consortium in 2002, helped connect subject matter experts at colleges and universities, public, private and defense organizations in every UN member country. Through this consortium initiative, the worlds top reference points in medicine, veterinary medicine and law helped HRI be a global reference point for health care, education, agricultural and economic development. Shortly thereafter, HRI was recognized as one of nine leading educational and research institutions by the National Academy of Sciences, with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Columbia University: Center for Public Health Preparedness, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Humanitarian Resource Institute, Johns Hopkins University: Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Center for International Studies, National Academy of Sciences, University of Maryland: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, University of Minnesota: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. -- See: Biological Threats and Terrorism, Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary: Forum on Emerging Infections, Board on Global Health. "Front Matter, " Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002. In 2009, HRI formed the United Nations Arts Initiative to promote "Arts Integration Into Education," connecting educators, artists and entertainment industry, who have the innovation, creativity and intimate connection with the grassroots level, to impact prioritized humanitarian emergencies and relief operations. The United Nations Arts Initiative helps both artist and grassroots leaders with strategic planning, critical analysis, expert think tank development for background discussions, peer reviewed data compilation and communications that engage decision makers and audiences in a target demographic. In 2011, H-II OPSEC Expeditionary Operations was developed to assist defense support for humanitarian and security emergencies, currently beyond the capabilities of governmental, UN, NGO and relief organizations. Though functioning outside of the mainstream spotlight for 23 years, Humanitarian Resource Institute has been the reference point for unconventional asymmetric strategic planning. Today, Stephen M. Apatow, President, Director of Research and Development for HRI, is focused on helping young leaders and executive leadership teams understand how to operate in complex environments and strategic areas viewed as critical to the CEO level of operations. Lead from the Front: Development Programs help the CEO level break down walls and barriers, establishing a focus on optimization of the mission objective, through:
News Article | February 28, 2017
Under cover of night, a blacked-out fishing boat slips into Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter moves to apprehend the intruder. But before officers can board, both boats and much of Baltimore disappear in an intense flash: A nuclear bomb hidden on the boat has detonated. As first responders rush to victims, nuclear forensics specialists scrutinize data on radiation and acoustic and seismic waves from sensors placed around the city in a breakneck effort to decipher the bomb’s design and perhaps determine who was behind the blast. At a time when a bomb smuggled by terrorists is as big a concern as one from a foreign power, delivered by missile or airplane, an attack at a port is “definitely a more likely scenario,” says Thomas Cartledge, a nuclear engineer with the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. But forensic experts, who rely largely on nuclear test data collected years ago in Western deserts, lack a clear picture of how energy from a detonation would propagate in the highly saturated geology of many U.S. port cities. To remedy that, DTRA last October quietly staged Humming Terrapin: a 2-week test series at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland that detonated nearly 2 metric tons of conventional explosives to simulate nuclear blast effects in shallow water. Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has mounted a major effort to prevent a nuclear bomb from being smuggled into a port. It has outfitted points of entry with radiation detectors, and it is working with foreign ports toward a goal of having all U.S.-bound cargo scanned for nuclear materials before departure. But it’s well nigh impossible to track the myriad small craft flitting in and out of the 361 U.S. ports and 153,000 kilometers of open shoreline. “There are a zillion fishing boats that leave U.S. ports and nobody inspects them when they come home,” says Matthew Bunn, a specialist on nuclear terrorism at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “If there is highly enriched uranium metal that’s shielded and below the water line, it’s going to be really tough to detect at long range.” In case the unthinkable happens, a sensor array called Discreet Oculus that is being installed in major U.S. cities would capture key forensic information. The array, which DTRA is still developing, would record radiation and seismic waves emanating from the blast. “Discreet Oculus is up and running in several U.S. cities now,” Cartledge says. A sister system—a portable array that runs on battery or solar power called Minikin Echo—will be deployed at major events such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl. Data from Cold War–era nuclear testing and simulations are being used to calibrate the sensors. Yet past U.S. testing is a poor proxy for detonations at a port, says Tamara VanHoose, a U.S. Army major and nuclear engineer at DTRA. A closer analog is a little-known campaign in 1963–64 in which the U.S. Air Force conducted a series of detonations of as much as 10 tons of chemical explosives at the bottom of Lake Superior. The tests offered a wealth of data on how seismic waves traverse the land-water interface, but they “were not instrumented to meet our needs,” VanHoose says. Humming Terrapin aims to fill that gap. VanHoose and colleagues set up Discreet Oculus and two Minikin Echo arrays at Aberdeen, adding hydrophones, which are not currently included in either array. Another set of sensors probed how seismic signals ripple through East Coast rock layers. “These are wet-type geologies versus the granite geologies that we see out at the typical desert sites where we’ve done historic testing,” VanHoose says. The team set out to test several scenarios. “We were looking at how a weapon might be delivered,” Cartledge says. A detonation above the water line—say in a container on the deck of a cargo ship—would produce a mostly acoustic signal, he says, whereas a detonation in a ship’s hull, below the surface, would be mostly seismic. “Really challenging,” he says, is the seismo-acoustic coupling “right at the surface”—a scenario one might expect for a detonation aboard a smaller boat. Finally came the big bangs. Working with U.S. Navy hydrosound experts, the DTRA-led team detonated eight 175-kilogram TNT explosions at Aberdeen’s Briar Point Test Pond, as well as one 455-kilogram TNT explosion at a nearby underwater explosives facility. The team sheltered in a bunker about 450 meters away and watched the explosions on closed-circuit TV. Less than a second after a detonation, the seismic waves arrived. The bunker “really rocks,” Cartledge says. “Wow, you don’t think it would shake us much as it does. That’s the fun part of the job.” A moment later came the airborne shock wave: “a very intense bang,” recalls Mark Leidig, a seismologist at Weston Geophysical Corp., a consulting firm in Lexington, Massachusetts, that designed the tests. Now comes the hard work of sifting the data and “building our models to account for the coupling effects of the water we observed,” VanHoose says. DTRA will stage its next test series back on dry land at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where an unshielded “fast-burst” nuclear reactor is normally used to test how military hardware might withstand a nuke’s high-energy neutron barrage. In June the DTRA team will verify that the speed-of-light sensors it is developing—detectors for gamma rays, radio waves, and light—can capture and model the fast burst, or the exponential rise of the nuclear reaction going critical. Such data provide “valuable forensic insight into weapon characteristics,” Cartledge says. Revealing a weapon’s design would speed the government’s response to a once-unimaginable act of terrorism, wherever it took place.
News Article | December 19, 2016
Harvard University's Calestous Juma will co-chair a new High Level African Panel on Emerging Technologies, created to identify and foster appropriate regulation and use of existing and emerging technologies of greatest help to Africa's economic development. Prof. Yaye Kene-Gassama Dia of University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, will co-chair the Panel of 10 eminent experts from diverse professional backgrounds, announced Dec. 18 by HE Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. NEPAD Agency and the African Union Commission will work closely with the Panel, mandated to assess the ethical and safety requirements and standards of emerging technologies and help promote their responsible regulation without imposing an undue burden on their adoption. The Panel will provide evidence-based analyses and recommendations to inform continental, regional and national level legal and regulatory policy. It will also recommend regional institutional arrangements to promote and sustain common regulatory approaches. "The adoption of every technology is sometimes associated with controversies bordering on the mix of benefits and potential adverse effects. The appointed High Level African Panel on Emerging Technologies shall be used as a resource pool from which AU Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) can draw expert knowledge and advice," HE Dr Zuma emphasized. Said Dr. Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: "Africa has historically had an uneasy relationship with technology. By the time technologies made it Africa they were already in their twilight hours. Mobile phones changed that routine. Africans started to adopt mobile phones at their dawn and so were able to shape their evolution and create radically new industries by seeking to solve local problems." "These are the lessons that inspired African leaders to set up a high level advisory panel that keeps its eyes on the frontiers of new technologies so they can shape them to their needs. This way Africa is not always being asked to follow the paths shaped by others or even compete with them. It can help to define technological trajectories and be able to add its creations to the global economy, like it has done with mobile money. The world will have a lot more technological solutions to benefit from with Africa as an early player." Prof. Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and Emeritus Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Prof. Abdallah Daar, Professor of Public Health Sciences, Dalla Lama Faculty of Public Health, University of Toronto, with a cross-appointment in the department of Surgery. Prof. O. Ibidapo-Obe, Distinguished Professor of Systems Engineering and former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos; currently Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State, Nigeria Dr. Rachel Chikwamba, CSIR Group Executive: Strategic Alliances and Communication and manager of the CSIR's high-level partnerships and stakeholder interactions and associated communication
Goldthau A.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs |
Goldthau A.,Central European University
Energy Research and Social Science | Year: 2014
Providing societies with reliable energy services, fighting energy poverty and mitigating climate change entail a crucial infrastructure component. Both the energy access and the low carbon challenge require more decentralized energy solutions and a change in the energy infrastructure paradigm. Yet, physical energy infrastructure co-evolves with socio-economic institutions, actors and social norms. This may produce inertia against change. The energy challenge also requires solutions at multiple scales and may entail elements of common pool resource problems. Therefore, the governance of energy infrastructure needs to be polycentric. This allows for contextualization, experimentation and innovation. The article concludes by sketching routes of further research into the energy infrastructure governance nexus in social science research. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Parker A.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2014
One of the greatest controversies in geoengineering policy concerns the next stages of solar radiation management research, and when and how it leaves the laboratory. Citing numerous risks and concerns, a range of prominent commentators have called for field experiments to be delayed until there is formalized research governance, such as an international agreement. As a piece of pragmatic policy analysis, this paper explores the practicalities and implications of demands for 'governance before research'. It concludes that 'governance before research' is a desirable goal, but that a delay in experimentation - a moratorium - would probably be an ineffective and counterproductive way to achieve it. Firstly, it is very unlikely that a moratorium could be imposed. Secondly, even if it were practicable it seems that a temporary ban on field experiments would have at best a mixed effect addressing the main risks and concerns, while blocking and stigmatizing safe research and delaying the development of good governance practices from learning by doing. The paper suggests a number of steps to ensure 'governance before research' that can be taken in the absence of an international agreement or national legislation, emphasizing the roles of researchers and research funders in developing and implementing good practices. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Skalamera M.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Energy Strategy Reviews | Year: 2016
In the wake of Russia's souring relations with the West over Ukraine, the clinching, on May 21, 2014, of the long-anticipated Sino-Russian gas deal has prompted a flurry of speculation on the deal's implications, not only for global energy markets but also for geopolitical security among the big powers in the rapidly changing world order. In Moscow, officials insist that the deal with China is only part of a more overarching “pivot to Asia.” In fact, in 2013, Russia sent more than 30% of its oil exports—more than 1.2 million barrels a day, the most ever—to Asia. But almost half of that energy is heading to one place in Asia: China, the biggest beneficiary of the deal. Russia's heightened tensions with Europe have created very favorable conditions for Chinese energy diplomacy with Russia. As Moscow's relations with the West deteriorate, Putin seeks to show the world and the Russian people that he has alternative friends to the East. Be that as it may, the incentives leading to the mega deal were in place much earlier. The article is laid out as follows. I review the details of the recent Sino-Russian gas deal and also of the preceding oil agreements, as well as their implications for Sino-Russian energy cooperation. I point out that Sino-Russian gas cooperation followed a different path than the two giants' oil trade for one crucial reason: the intrinsic differences between oil and gas as commodities. Unlike oil, gas is comparatively easy to produce but expensive to transport and difficult to replenish. As a result, gas can be much more readily used as a strategic policy tool. After reviewing the differences between oil and gas trade, the next section discusses the so-called Altai pipeline. I then focus on Vladivostok LNG, a giant project that is likely to be substituted with a third gas pipeline to China. Lastly, I review what I believe to be the most likely future developments in Sino-Russian energy cooperation. The political economics of the Sino-Russian energy relations involves four crucial issues: ownership of the Russian upstream resources, and Chinese technical participation in the plans to exploit these resources; ownership and financing of the pipelines linking Russian oil and gas to China; the decision on the pipeline routes; and the decision on the price. Evaluating Sino-Russian energy cooperation with these four crucial issues in mind, I conclude that Russia and China will continue to move toward greater energy trade integration. The benefits will, however, be increasingly uneven, to China's advantage. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd
Liu H.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs |
Gallagher K.S.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Energy Policy | Year: 2010
China now faces the three hard truths of thirsting for more oil, relying heavily on coal, and ranking first in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Given these truths, two key questions must be addressed to develop a low-carbon economy: how to use coal in a carbon-constrained future? How to increase domestic oil supply to enhance energy security? Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) may be a technological solution that can deal with today's energy and environmental needs while enabling China to move closer to a low-carbon energy future. This paper has been developed to propose a possible CCS roadmap for China. To develop the roadmap, we first explore major carbon capture opportunities in China and then identify critical CCS-enabling technologies, as well as analyze their current status and future prospects. We find that coal gasification or polygeneration in combination with CCS could be a nearly unbeatable combination for China's low-carbon future. Even without CCS, gasification offers many benefits: once coal is gasified into syngas, it can be used for many different purposes including for alternative fuels production, thereby increasing the domestic oil supply and the flexibility of the energy system. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
Araujo K.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Energy Research and Social Science | Year: 2014
Energy transitions are an unmistakable part of today's public discourse. Whether shaped by fuel price fluctuation, environmental and security concerns, aspects of technology change, or goals to improve energy access, attention regularly turns to ways in which to improve energy pathways. Yet what is understood about energy system change is still emerging. This article explores the evolving field of energy transitions with an aim to connect and enlarge the scholarship. Definitions and examples of energy transitions are discussed, together with core ideas on trade-offs, urgency, and innovation. Global developments in energy and related mega-trends are then reviewed to highlight areas of analytical significance. Key information sources and suppliers are examined next. The article concludes with ideas about opportunities for further research. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Zhang H.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Science and Global Security | Year: 2011
This article discusses the history of China's production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons and uses new public information to estimate the amount of highly enriched uranium and plutonium China produced at its two gaseous diffusion plants and two plutonium production complexes. The new estimates in this article are that China produced 20 ± 4 tons of HEU, 2 ± 0.5 tons of plutonium, and currently has stockpiles of about 16 ± 4 tons of HEU and 1.8 ± 0.5 tons of plutonium available for weapons. The values for China's fissile material production are at the low end of most previous independent estimates, which range from 17-26 tons of highly enriched uranium and 2.1-6.6 tons of plutonium. These new estimates would be significant to assess China's willingness to join a fissile material cutoff treaty and a multilateral nuclear disarmament. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.