An informed look at the myths and fears surrounding nuclear energy, and a practical, politically realistic solution to global warming and our energy needs. Faced by the world's oil shortages and curious about alternative energy sources, Gwyneth Cravens skeptically sets out to find the truth about nuclear energy. Her conclusion: it is a totally viable and practical solution to global warming. In the end, we see that if we are to care for subsequent generations, embracing nuclear energy is an ethical imperative.
Novelist and science reporter Cravens (The Black Death) begins this journey of discovery "through the Nuclear world" dubious of nuclear power's safety and utility: "I'd participated in ban-the-bomb rallies" but "never considered the fate of a retired weapon." Her trip begins with a casual conversation with nuclear physicist Dr. Richard "Rip" Anderson on the hidden warheads being dismantled outside Albuquerque, N.M.; as it turns out, the nuclear "pits" were to be used for fuel in nuclear reactors. Curiosity, and Rip's conviction that no other large-scale energy source is as "safe, reliable, and clean," drives Craven to spend 10 years with the scientist traveling to national laboratories, uranium mines and nuclear waste sites; reviewing accounts of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island; and examining modern reactor designs, the life cycle of uranium and studies on radiation's effects since 1945. Gradually convinced that "uranium is cleaner and safer throughout its shielded journey from cradle to grave than our other big baseload electricity resource, fossil fuel," Craven has submitted a thorough, persuasive report from the front lines of the world's energy and climate crises, illuminating for general readers the pros and cons of a highly misunderstood resource.