In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in March, the appetite for new nuclear power plants slipped to post-Chernobyl lows. Regulators from Italy to Switzerland to Texas moved to stop pending nuclear-power projects, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) began to reevaluate the safety of all domestic plants. Yet nuclear power still provides 20 percent of America's total electric power and 70 percent of its emissions-free energy, in large part because no alternative energy source can match its efficiency.
One nuclear plant with a footprint of one square mile provides the energy equivalent of 20 square miles of solar panels, 1,200 windmills or the entire Hoover Dam. If the country wants to significantly reduce its dependence on carbon-based energy, it will need to build more nuclear power plants. The question is how to do so safely.
As the Gulf oil leak continues unhindered today, BP is trying yet another tactic to stem the flow of crude into coastal waters. But amid the news surrounding this latest effort -- it's another containment dome scheme like the two that failed before, in case you're keeping score at home -- comes this interesting bit of news via the New York Times: The U.S. government has actually addressed the proposed idea of sealing off the well with a nuclear blast. Their stance on the scheme: Absolutely not.
The Obama administration has worked tirelessly towards nuke reductions in recent months, signing an arms control treaty with Russia and ratcheting up the rhetoric -- and the promises of further sanctions -- towards Iran. But at the center of President Obama's arms reduction campaign is an antimissile defense rocket known as the SM-3, and depending on who you ask the interceptor is either "proven and effective," or an absolute failure 80 percent of the time.
After months of deliberation and 150 meetings, the Obama Administration finally released its new guidelines for nuclear weapons policy. In a sharp break from previous administrations, Obama's Nuclear Posture Review released today dictates the U.S. halt development of any new nuclear weapons and cease to consider nuclear retaliation against non-nuclear nations, even in response to a biological or chemical attack.
A newly formed International Committee on Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) has asked nations to ban military bots from space and prevent robots from toting nuclear weapons. No doubt, human characters from science fiction stories such as "Battlestar Galactica" and "Terminator" might agree.