We need more ideas, not just an A or B selection of options. The world has more colors than just black or white. We need to see the variety and complexity of our environment. We need to reject profit-at-all-cost, because the cost is the broken lives of the people and wildlife who must live with the tailings of mining, or the slash-and-burn that converts jungle to a couple of years of agriculture – then desert, or the exchange of renewable agriculture and ground water for the one-time extraction due to fracking. Extraction industries need to be held infinitely and permanently responsible for the messes they leave behind. If the corporations knew that they would be held responsible, they would be much better neighbors. Slash and burn technologies have to end. The world needs to be here for the next generation.
We need an educated voting population that can recognize problems and suggest solutions – folks who can look at the resources available and see a means of adapting these to improve the environment for people and the habitats, flora and fauna that support us.
We need to reallocate war resources to restore people’s health, and the environment, as well as renewable resources. Currently the U. S. spends more on defense than the next dozen countries combined. We should be using at least half of their budget in taking care of our health, education, and planet. Increased efficiencies of solar, wind, geo-thermal energy collection and storage will make the smooth transition to a sustainable culture. Smart power grids will mean proper distribution of energy as needed.
It is the duty of government to be the primary funder and proponent of scientific research. History has shown the entire nation and the world benefits from the result of government-sponsored research, from the Manhattan Project to NASA. This is especially true in the critical areas of healthcare, climate change and alternate energy sources, all of which affect every person.
Climate Change has driven many of the problems that marked this decade (as well as a number of the previous decades, to various degrees). Our impacts are legion and extend past the internal combustion engine to the Rome Plow (two Caterpillar Tractors with a chain between to drag down a whole groups of trees to make pasture out of forest) in South America as they flatten the Amazon to make more pasture and agricultural land and extend the trans-Amazon highway. By changing our focus from the internal combustion engine to electronic propulsion, we make new jobs and provide new opportunities for people to re-engineer the whole economy, including where we should live, and grow or make things, as well as how we move goods and people from one location to another.
To get people to be more tolerant of differences, it is important for them to be able to visit each other and communicate, and to see the problems that need to be handled and how they are handled by others and then to what effect. We can then embrace best-of-breed solutions, to make more efficient use of people and resources. This also allows us to ask the important questions about how we can make the earth whole again.
Climate change is a scientifically-verifiable fact. It must be addressed by immediate and aggressive government policies and programs. Stop the use of all fossil fuels by 2035. This must be accompanied by dramatically increased funding for STEM education to counter the irrational voices of science-deniers.
Cyber Security is constantly being addressed in the Open Source community. We need even more people who know how to do this, and who can come up with even better solutions. We should support Directed Independent Studies projects by young people, to help the Open Source movement to provide a protected Open Internet. The Open Internet would not allow domination by commercial interests, but would rather match solutions with the problems of people and places. This kind of Internet can provide effective commerce and information exchange, along with safe exchange of ideas and ideals among all peoples and countries. It can also allow for a new form of democracy that all have input to and allow every voice to be heard. Again the best ideas can be allowed to be brought forward for advancing as policy.
A new independent federal agency Department if Cyber Security should be established by Congress, free of political influence, to address this issue.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is very common among military service personnel, and contributes to the extremely high rate of homelessness and suicide among veterans. It has been very difficult for many veterans to access care, even when they know they need it. I would support full funding of psychological care for veterans, in and out of the Veterans’ Administration (VA) hospital system, including outreach to find and welcome veterans who are having difficulty in ‘life outside’ but have not attempted to obtain care (or were previously rebuffed). I would also support further development of mental health information management procedures. Often what happens is that the soldier is returned to the states and is immediately mobilized to home. This process has resulted in many of the returning soldier get mobilized to home before they start to manifest the problems of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). When they go home to a wholly different stress environment without observation, they and their families are at risk. A means of phasing-in should be coupled with testing and observation to help identify soldiers at risk. These situations could be helped with a family re-integration period at a resort that helps the soldier to re-connect with the family in a less stressed but more supportive environment, a kind of Disneyland with therapists to aid the soldiers and their families to re-integrate. This would give the families a chance to learn new communication skills and be able to watch for trigger issues that would affect the soldier and his/her family.
I worked for the VA for over ten years. I also worked with SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), which won a competition to transfer the VA’s integrated hospital information system for 16 years, VistA, to all Department of Defense hospitals, and to the Indian Health Service clinics. We completed the transfer on time and on budget in spite of having the hardware changed three times.
VistA is an information technology tool kit that currently covers over 180 aspects of hospital management, and is ideal for both public and private hospitals. VistA makes it possible for each hospital to support its own methods of delivering care. VistA can be used to standardize health care records, and supports their secure and inexpensive transfer among care providers and patients. The adopters can support their own configurations and develop their own programming staff. This investment means that they get the tools they need to deliver health care in a timely and inexpensive manor.
I was one of the founders of a not-for-profit, WorldVistA.org, which helped move and support the FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, VistA model out into Open Source. It is free to use by anyone to download and we had provided support for the health organizations to train and educate their own staffs to utilize this open ended tool kit. Periodically, WorldVistA.org receives updates and requests code in-flight of the VA management. The VistA system model, as it evolves, gets posted on the website for free download and utilization. VistA has now been installed in non-VA community hospitals, such as Oroville Hospital in Northern California as well as other sites in the US. VistA is also running in other nations, including Jordan, India, Mexico and Pakistan.
The pharmaceutical companies have controlled health care in this country for too long. The manipulation of the population is rampant. As an example, in the late 1980’s, tainted Tryptophan was released in the US, 4 days before Prozac began to be marketed. The bad batch of tainted Tryptophan was produced in Japan by the company, Showa Denko, which dumped it on the US and German markets, and it caused eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Germany realized that it was a bad batch, removed the tainted Tryptophan and replaced it with pure tryptophan. The treatment for EMS is pure tryptophan. All tryptophan was banned in the US by the FDA, clearing a path for Prozac, (a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, SSRI), which competes with the much less expensive tryptophan (which functions in a flow through model for serotonin) to inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. The FDA was manipulated by the pharmaceutical and industrial companies and continues to do so, providing symptom management and not effecting cures. The strategy of treating symptoms and not effecting cures is too often used to keep the patients coming back. I would begin by reorganizing the FDA so that it is not a revolving door for the corporations who manipulate the market to the detriment of all people and the environment.
Monsanto is another corporation that has proved its intent to conquer the marketplace to the detriment of the public and the environment. It has commercialized Agent Orange into ‘Roundup’, a common consumer product which has been proven to be a significant carcinogen. The result is much suffering, and a great amount of work must be done to stop it, and to mitigate its impacts.
No one chooses to be mentally ill. We must decriminalize and destigmatize severe mental illness. It is not a crime to be mentally ill, yet our jails and prisons and the primary caretakers of its victims. Our antiquated policies regarding the treatment of the gravely mentally ill must be updated. A person cannot invoke a “right not to be medicated” if that person is not mentally competent to intelligently exercise that right. Too many mentally ill people die on the streets of our cities wearing their rights.
As stated before, we need more ideas and not fewer ideas. We need a well-educated population that knows the scientific method and can think outside the box for solutions that solve problems in an effective and efficient way. I personally like the idea of students planning their own Directed Independent Studies to solve specific problems, with consultation and funding by experts in the fields being explored. The students are encouraged to investigate and characterize the problems and formulate the means that the student will use to solve the issue at hand. For those who haven’t begun to ask such questions, more traditional classes can be conducted, but the instructors are cued to watch for areas that students find interesting, and to support them in focusing on those interests. Education and individual opportunities need to be fully-funded, and publicly celebrated. The effort is to aid the student to become their own instructor for life long learning. The amount of information that is available from the internet is immense and the student needs to be able to be their own best filter as to what is true and what is not.
Free public education from Pre-K to graduate and professional degrees. Major emphasis and federal funding incentives for STEM education. Remove religion from all education. Evolution and climate change are facts, not theories, and must be taught as such. Remove federal funding from public schools which refuse to comply.
Humans and nature require water to live and grow. For too long, clean water has been sacrificed for quick profits from oil, natural gas and coal, as well as non-energy-related mining. The energy companies should be held infinitely and permanently responsible for any spills and other long-term damage that they cause. Solar stills and other low-tech recovery systems can be used to reclaim contaminated water, turning it into clean, fresh water. Clean water diversion into reservoirs will be encouraged in areas of heavy rainfall and snowfall. Sufficient river water flow is necessary to continue supporting fish populations that return to rivers to spawn, such as salmon.
Permaculture land-sculpting practices make water that falls on the land follow the longest possible path across it, maximizing the amount that soaks into the soil, thus replenishing the aquifer. As little as 8 inches per year of rainfall can support crops, when it is stored this way, so far less irrigation is required. Permaculture also minimizes the amount of fertilizer that needs to be added, so the water that does run off is not contaminated with a heavy load of phosphates. This kind of runoff can contribute to Red Tide zones, lowered salinity and increased nutrient in the Gulf of Mexico and many other locations around the world. These zones are responsible for exhausting the oxygen in the areas and depending on the organism, produce an endo-toxin that inhibits the transport of oxygen across the gill membranes of the fish.
Reverse Trump’s pro-pollution environmental and water policies, politically or in the courts. Greater public education and awareness on the truth of polluters. Restore funding to EPA and aggressively enforce its regulations against violators. Severe penalties for repeated water polluters.
A new study shows that California’s oil is as dirty as Canadian tar sands crude, and the natural gas supply chain is literally full of holes, letting perhaps 10% of what comes up escape to make global warming even worse. Most of the oil and gas extracted in California is produced through extreme recovery measures such as fracking, which destroys a lot of our natural resources, including both water and air, and disrupts renewable agriculture. We must stop fracking immediately.
We can produce biofuels and chemical feedstocks from crop waste, excess fuel loads in forests, table scraps, and livestock excrement. Recycling and binding carbon is a means to sequester lots of carbon. We can maximize energy efficiency, and make all the rest of the energy we need from sun, wind, and waves, with zero carbon emissions. By using batteries to store excess energy and even out the flow of electricity from these intermittent renewable energy sources, and to power our vehicles, we can end the use of fossil and nuclear fuels in less than two decades. The conversion technology will be a major source of local jobs and a means of getting gas engines off the street. This effort can also extend to agricultural equipment, tractors, harvesters, and irrigation pumps driven by battery or AC power.
We all need food, and I would emphasize the use of rapidly renewable food sources like algae, krill, wild-harvested shrimp, etcetera. Estuaries are critically important for robust fisheries that can sustain fishing communities. Keeping tidal flow into and out of the estuaries is critical to the health and the renewable nature of the potential food organisms that need the estuaries as a nursery.
Making family farms financially successful is difficult, unless they grow a unique crop or one that can compete in the mainstream market. When 90% of the population farmed for a living, every farming family had a kitchen garden, to grow most of the food that they ate. Permaculture and BioIntensive Gardening can provide lots of variety and much more food per acre than conventional industrial agriculture, and they can provide rewarding work for people replaced by automation.
Decentralize food production away from massive agricultural conglomerates which sacrifice food safety for profits. Greater regulation and prohibition of chemical additives and GMOs. More aggressive and rigorous inspection protocols.
We should focus on getting back to the moon. Going to Mars before settling the moon is foolhardy. Everything going to Mars will have to be lifted out of the earth’s gravity well. By settling the moon, we can build mining and transport on the surface of the moon in its shallow gravity well and the lack of an atmosphere works in our favor. Materials can be launched from the surface of the moon with nothing more than a solar driven catapult. Raw ore and manufactured good can be launched off the surface with ease. There is never a cloudy day on the moon and solar panels work very well in a vacuum. The shallow gravity well and lack of atmosphere means that we can launch from the moon with a mass driver, an electric catapult. Fine tuning and meteor deflection can be done from the surface of the moon.
Launches from the moon can reach earth, enter a cometary orbit of the sun for smelting ore, and even deliver resources to the surface of Mars, so we can turn the surface of Mars into an IKEA waiting for the pioneers. They will follow to Mars on ships built on the moon and assembled in space at one of the Lagrange areas in the orbit of the moon. Settling the moon means that we occupy the lava tubes under the surface or cover surface dwellings with enough surface materials to equal enough of overburden to give us the equivalent of at least 1 atmosphere of shielding. I mentioned a cometary orbit of the sun, we can shoot raw materials into an orbit that skirts the heliosphere of the sun and smelts the materials in the load so that they are molten as they sling-shot back to the moon. The mechanism to do this is a small matter of math.
Moving the majority of mining and manufacturing to the moon provides such riches that, if we shared the wealth equally, we could pay off all of the debt between countries and not reduce the total amount of wealth and opportunity to advance mankind. We would also benefit from new materials science discoveries coming from the research community on the moon. Such as Basaltic Cloth made from basaltic rock which is abundant on the moon. Such material would be cheap to make and rugged as well as heat resistant. Reentry craft could be woven to nearly any size and launched from the surface of the moon for re-entry to any square half-kilometer on the surface of the earth. Lifting bodies can be knit with this cloth and there can be streamers attached to help orient the crafts upon reentry and slow the craft down for a controlled landing. These vehicles need only land once. They can be dismantled for resources.
The lava tubes on the moon could host a significant farming effort that can limit the amount of poundage that needs to be pushed out of the Earth gravity well to support the lunar and Mars colonies. Manufactured and raw materials can also be dropped to any anywhere on the Earth’s surface from the moon, and we can turn the Earth back into the garden that it should be. As the population comes into the modern age, we can regulate population growth by encouraging couples to delay having children, and to have fewer children. This is the pattern of most industrialized countries, populations begin to stabilize.
Scientifically, politically and emotionally, space exploration benefits and binds all living things. Space exploration is inevitable. The human spirit will never stop looking beyond the horizons of its current knowledge. It is only a question of how quickly it will occur. I support a large permanent orbiting space station, a lunar-based space station and both manned and unmanned missions to Mars and beyond.
I trained as a marine biologist and worked as one for seven years for the Florida Department of Natural Resources. Obviously, stopping the dumping of exotic chemicals is critical, but of greater impact is the amounts of plastics that are polluting our oceans. There are many things that can be done to help clean up the world’s oceans, including relatively simple new low technology methodologies. If we replace internal combustion engines with electric engines, produce electricity from renewable energy resources, and do the energy- and water-conserving measures described above, we will see a big change in the acidification of the oceans. Both sewage outfall systems and agricultural run-off along the coasts of many countries have poisoned their coast lines – sometimes by triggering red tide blooms that kill the fish and caused skin irritation and other health issues.
Long-line fishing has decimated many of the pelagic fish species and drowned many air breathing organisms, like seals, whales, turtles, and porpoises, by holding them at depth until they drown. An anchored buoy is placed, and thousands of baited hooks are strung like a clothes line between the anchor and a second buoy for a couple of days. Then the whole array is winched in and the fish are processed for human food, pet food, livestock feed, or cosmetics. The method is very popular with the Russians, the Norwegians, and the Japanese. Huge trawlers with miles-long bottom nets scour the sea-bottom, destroying much of the base of the food chain. Both methods must be tightly regulated and downsized to maintain ecosystems – we should only allow the sustainable surplus to be harvested.
The cleanup of the seas is an absolute necessity. We must retrieve and properly dispose of the floating debris around the globe, and prohibit the further use of non-biodegradable plastics, and protect all marine mammals and threatened sea life.
I retired from the VA as a technical support staff and I watched as the VA management proceeded to dismantle the VA VistA model that has been running the VA Hospitals for 40 years, a system that we built, is the property of the US tax payers, and declared FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). VistA, the software package, was built to be enhanced and has evolved with the evolving technologies that characterize health care. It is vitally important that the people at the point of care are involved in the design of the solution that they are being asked to use. Compliance increases, as the users see their own ideas as part of their own day-to-day solution. Personnel retention is high when the people at the point of care have input to the process that they use every day. Also, these new adaptations are much easier to install and use than if the solution is farmed out to a third party vendor.
The farmed-out solutions to third party vendors usually take 18 to 24 months and a great deal of money to generate and when they are delivered, they are already two years out of date. Solutions done locally take an hour to a few days to build, and can be adjusted to fit local needs perfectly, without having to go back to a third party vendor/developer. The third party developers have never spent an evening with the people at the point of care to get their feedback. One of the great failings of the VA management was to remove the programmers from the VA hospitals. They killed the spirit of innovation at the point of care and the cooperation between the hospitals. This has successfully silenced the voices of the people at the point of care. The local programmers have spent time listening to the needs of the health care providers, and do so frequently to fine tune the applications so that the applications are more useful to the staff that has to live with the software. Local solutions are then shared with other sites as collaboration and elaboration, to build a more evolved application, a best of breed solution. This communication has been silenced by the VA Management. The sharing of patient data between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA has been a matter of political will and not a real technical hurdle. This would be one area I would definitely change within the VA, to foster real communications between the VA and the DoD. This is how VistA has served the VA for 40 years, the Indian Health Service for over 35 years, and the Department of Defense for over 30 years.
Some friends of mine and I from the MUMPS Development Committee, a division of the American National Standards Institute, (ANSI) started WorldVistA, www.WorldVistA.org, a not-for-profit, in 2002, and made it our charter to make the VistA model available and easier to install on commodity class computers, desktops, laptops as well as most other hardware. The VistA software was paid for by the US tax payer, and so has been declared available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), for both the United States and the World.
This is a tool kit that we can export for good will to other countries, to aid them in providing better health care their own people (and our people when we visit them). The whole software stack is Open Source and free to download. It comes with 180 different aspects of hospital operations, including pharmacy, patient records, allergies, surgery, nursing, dietetics, and a lot more. It is a whole Electronic Health Record system that can reside on an austere laptop. We had been to Kensington, UK the week before 911 to present WorldVistA to the Open Source Health Care Alliance. The IT Director of a 1,000 bed hospital in Tehran, Iran was interested, but after 911, we lost communications with them. It would have been a very different world if 911 had not happened.
The VistA software is just one of thousands of tremendously valuable tools built with the disciplines of science and mathematics. It is written in a powerful, yet easy-to-learn programming language, MUMPS (celebrating over 50 years since it was first written, and is still running most of the banks and hospitals in this country), that can also be used to run a small city, or a society, or just handle your personal information needs. When any young person who is interested can learn powerful programming skills these tools are ready to expand their minds and horizons, and we also celebrate all the sciences, these informed students and many of their friends will be immune to propaganda designed to manipulate and dumb down the population, and they will join us in fighting those who generate it. The price of freedom is eternal vigilence, and an educated electorate gets you half way there.
Politics and religion have no place in scientific inquiry. Rules and regulations must be put in place and enforced protecting scientists (government or private) from termination or retaliation because of politics or faith considerations.
All these topics intersect with each other; none of them stand alone or can be addressed in isolation from one another.
San Francisco is experiencing catastrophic homelessness which is causing daily death and the spread of diseases (hepatitis and tuberculosis) due to lack of shelter and sanitation. If elected, I will ask FEMA to declare the City a disaster area to bring in the necessary resources to provide shelter and sanitation. I will also ask the CDC and/or the Surgeon General to declare a health emergency to deploy whatever resources may be available to immediately address this issue.
Organizations Who Developed the Questions: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Council on Competitiveness, IEEE-USA, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Media Partner: Scientific American