James Conca

Articles by James Conca:

James Conca: "I have been a scientist in the field of the earth and environmental sciences for 31 years, specializing in geologic disposal of nuclear waste, energy-related research, subsurface transport and environmental clean-up of heavy metals.

"I have found that important societal issues involving science and technology are rarely made on the basis of science, but on people's perception of science. Science is necessary but insufficient. It seems to be more important to understand Fareed Zakaria than Stephen Hawking, although you better understand both if you want to solve issues like sustainable energy development.

"Prior to my present position, I was Director of the New Mexico State University Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, the independent and academic monitoring facility for the Department of Energy's WIPP site, a little-known deep geologic nuclear repository for bomb waste.

"I came to NMSU from Los Alamos National Laboratory where I was Project Leader for Radionuclide Geochemistry and its input into the Yucca Mt Project. Before that, I was on the faculty at Washington State University Tri-Cities. At the California Institute of Technology, I obtained a Ph.D. in Geochemistry in 1985 and a Masters in Planetary Science in 1981. I received a Bachelor's in Science in Geology/Biology from Brown University in 1979."

Looking out the window from my hospital bed last week, I marveled at the clarity of Rattlesnake Ridge almost 30 miles away. The air quality was amazing.Smog in Beijing has reached dangerous levels and resulting health costs have overshadowed positive effects of the energy. Credit: images.forbes.com

I then looked down at an article I was reading in The Week that reported how the air quality in Beijing was so bad, the visibility so low, that a downtown factory building burned for three hours before anyone noticed!

The American public first became aware of Beijing’s bad air issue during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Coaches were having a hard time allowing our athletes to go to Beijing to train prior to the Games because the air was so toxic. The City responded by shutting down coal plants in the area, implementing forced-reduction in traffic and halting many industrial activities.  It worked pretty well for the duration of the Games.

But it’s gotten worse since then...