From an article by Daniel E. Koshland Jr. in the February issue of Science:
Valor and heroism are the focus of novels about wars, but history has shown that, from bows and arrows to laser-guided missiles, technology is decisive if it is very one-sided. ... This time around, science seems to have changed warfare in a second category, the capacity for precision attack on military targets. ... In World War II and Vietnam, massive bombings were necessary to destroy key targets, and civilians died in droves. ''Humanizing war'' is the ultimate oxymoron, but a campaign in which military installations are the target is not only more civilized but also provides a better chance of constructing peace out of the ashes of war.
Science enters into this war in another way, in that it has made oil essential to modern civilization. The standard of living of many nations depends on cheap oil. It is indeed ironic that war, which brings out the worst and best aspects of human nature, can in this case focus on a problem that society should address, regardless of conflict. In about 100 years, the world will run out of cheap oil for transportation, greatly magnifying the temptation of nations to fight over this increasingly rare commodity. Therefore, a massive research effort must be launched to provide other sources of energy before the present one runs out. In fairness to our children and our children's children, research should start immediately on the replacement of oil, with solar energy the most likely long-term alternative. Perhaps the urgency of doing this for the sake of coming generations, a form of altruism which is tough to sell politically, may be easier to sell as a means to avoid future wars. Certainly one of our immediate priorities should be to give our nation and the world the opportunity to overcome an addiction to oil.