U.S. Homeland SciTech Director O'Toole Rallies Students, Professors: Demand That Government Back Science to Protect the Population
April 1, 2011 • 8:41AM

Dr. Tara O'Toole, Under Secretary for Science and Technology at Homeland Security (DHS), after her speech today on defense against catastophes to the DHS Fifth Annual University Summit, responded to a question by Marcia Baker of Executive Intelligence Review about the takedown of monitoring of planetary and solar system phenomena, by turning to rally the 400 audience members to take action to demand Federal spending on science to protect the population.

O'Toole said that H.R.1 would "eliminate all R&D in the Science and Technology budget of Homeland Security," which is $510 million for FY11. "It's symptomatic," she said, as people think of "cuts due to the economic situation." But she said this must be opposed, and there is a likelihood it won't happen. O'Toole addressed the teachers and faculty members in the audience directly: "You need to talk to members of Congress....Why not offer your services to Congress?" For example, offer to provide the truth about the nuclear reactors in Japan.

"You can get the people's attention now," she said, telling the audience to "talk to elected leaders and the public." She stressed that, "It's better now than six months ago," to get people to understand and act.

Baker, in her question to O'Toole, gave specifics on the reduction in NASA, the loss of LIDAR and radar satellites, and the Executive Budget proposal to cancel DESDynI, and the import of all this to prevent scientific advances in understanding the solar and galactic dynamics involved in tectonic, vulcanic, and other activity and threats on Earth. Baker circulated the LPAC "Defend California" letter among attendees, who were mostly from the 12 DHS/university research partnerships for security (whose work ranges from tsunamis and disease protection, to dismal analysis of "opinion" and social media).

O'Toole's speech, which focussed on what her Science programs are doing for the DHS mission of lessening events of mass casualties, was noteworthy for not citing the Japanese nuclear reactor damage as a primary menace. She accurately cited the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Her own background includes the specialty of radiation and public health. She ended by quoting Albert Einstein from 1929: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress..."

Today is the second of three days of the DHS conference, whose overall theme is, "Catastrophes and Complex Systems: Transportation." Today's DHS plenary panel took this to mean crowd control and "mass evacuations" at NFL football games, NASCAR and mega-stadium events!

In contrast, an impromptu briefing on response to the Christchurch earthquake was given by a visiting New Zealand disaster expert, full of enthusiasm for the mission of going to the max for science and defending mankind. He organized university youth-brigades, and international teams in the follow-up rescue drive.