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Choose a science &/or energy policy issue related to physics that interests you.

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Physics


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Choose a science &/or energy policy issue related to physics that interests you. The topic of your memo is very important, so do some research and think carefully about it. You should choose a specific issue that is of interest to you, that you can understand, that you can find adequate information about, and that is actually a question with different possible answers. For example, should we drill for oil off the shore of Florida? Should the EPA set CO2 emissions limits? Should Japan re-start nuclear power plants? Should power companies pay wholesale or retail rates to buy solar power from customers? Should Amazon cover all of its warehouses in solar panels?
For this part of the assignment, you need to cite one source of information on this topic. This source can be a newspaper article, radio interview, or credible internet source. Some possible sources are listed below. For the actual written memo (Part II), you will need to use a broader and deeper range of sources.
You also need to determine who your audience will be. There are at least two considerations. First, who will be interested in your topic, and who might be able to act on the recommendations that you make? Second, do you plan to write your memo for a layperson or for someone with technical knowledge? For example, if your topic is a matter that could be resolved through legislation at the state level, you could choose a state legislative body as your audience (like the Committee for…). This would involve defining technical terms and providing enough background about your topic for a person without a science background to understand. On the other hand, if your audience is an official at the Department of Energy, you would assume a better understanding of science and technical terms, which might mean writing less basic background information but a more technically advanced memo. Your audience MUST BE someone who can influence policy change–examples include: the CFO of Amazon, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, the Chairman of the Brazil Olympic Committee, the Director for the CA Department of water Resources.
Introduction: One distinguishing characteristic of a policy memo is that a summary of the document’s conclusion(s) and recommendation(s) is placed right at the beginning of the memo. Remember that the purpose of the document is generally to provide your audience advice about a particular decision, project, or policy stance. Thus, you open the memo by summarizing the problem or situation about which you are writing, and by providing a very brief summary of the conclusions/recommendations you have reached during your analysis, sometimes referred to as “Bottom line up front.” The rest of the memo is designed to support the conclusions or recommendations you present. Background: Keeping in mind that different audiences need different amounts of background information (see above), follow your introduction with a concise summary of any historical or technical information your audience needs in order to understand the arguments you are building. Supporting arguments or analysis: Once you have set the stage for your audience, show how this information leads logically to the conclusions and recommendations you have provided. Be sure to include an analysis of the likely outcomes of your policy recommendations- both positive and negative. You will be more convincing if you emphasize the positive outcomes of your recommendations, but you will fail to convince an educated audience if you ignore the potential negative outcomes altogether. Better to acknowledge them, and show how they could be mitigated or outweighed by the positive outcomes. You may also include alternative policy options and show how they are inferior to your recommendations. Policy Memo Guidelines By writing this policy memo, you will gain experience in relating physics and energy to common problems discussed in newspapers and other popular media. Your goal is to learn to analyze scientific information from a public policy perspective. This assignment will challenge you to think differently about physics and energy. Essential Elements
: Your memo should include:
a brief statement of the issue/problem; a summary of current policy and relevant background; your recommendations;
justification of your recommendations;
and the pros and cons of your recommendation (may be included in justification). It is a lot to cover in three pages, so aim for brevity in your language- using big words and lots of unnecessary verbiage will only make it harder. Just give us the boiled down information and your ideas in your own words. Simple and well-organized writing that shows a true understanding of your chosen topic will take you far.


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