Nuclear power poses a major conundrum. Nobody’s thrilled about nuclear waste, people fear potential accidents, and proliferation of nuclear weapons is downright scary. On the other hand, nuclear plants generate lots of power and no carbon dioxide. And when people crunch the numbers to see how to phase out carbon dioxide emissions, they often come up with nuclear energy playing a major role.
“Nuclear technology is something that’s there, we know how to do it, there’s no technical challenge in being able to apply it, unlike many of the other technologies,” says Richard Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science. He used to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and he served on a recent National Academy of Sciences committee looking at the future of energy in America.