Each week seems to bring further evidence that the Earth is warming at a faster rate than previously estimated. Pressure is building to replace power sources that emit carbon dioxide with those that do not. It is in this “climate” that nuclear energy is getting a second look. Once relegated to the junk heap after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters brought the dangers associated with nuclear power to everyone's attention, nuclear power may now be undergoing a “renaissance,” as the nuclear industry likes to say. Environmentalists such as Stewart Brand, originator of the Whole Earth Catalog, and Patrick Moore of Greenpeace have started pushing nuclear power as a ready solution to the problem of electricity production without carbon emissions.
Allison Macfarlane is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University. She is currently a member of the US. Energy Department's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. Her book with Rod Ewing on nuclear waste disposal is Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and High-Level Nuclear Waste Disposal. Her research interests include nuclear waste disposal, the nuclear fuel cycle, and emerging nuclear energy countries.