For those of you traveling this holiday weekend and looking
for a good book to pass your time with, I recommend Dr. Charles Ferguson’s Nuclear
Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know (available on Kindle).
Ferguson is the President of the Federation of American Scientists and one of
foremost experts on nuclear technology.
This has to be one of the best books available on nuclear
energy, covering everything from the basic fundamentals of what nuclear energy
is (including the types of reactors used and how fuel is reprocessed) to what
the actual challenges are with nuclear reactor safety and the proliferation of
fissile material. It is an easy read, but promises the reader a crash course in
the technical fluency anyone working in or interested in this space needs to
have to understand nuclear energy in the 21st century.
I’ll be short on my description today and save a longer review
of the book for another day. But one of the chapters worth reading if you’re
short on time is the one on nuclear proliferation. Ferguson gives quite an
even-handed assessment of some of the proliferation challenges the world faces
with nuclear energy. He
took on the question of nuclear proliferation in the last issue of Foreign Policy magazine, which is
also worth a read if you missed it.
Despite some countries recently announcing a retreat from
nuclear energy (especially in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster), Ferguson
argues that the nuclear renaissance is far from over. In the closing pages of
his book he writes that, “As renewable and nuclear technologies continue to
develop, the world may be generating much of its electricity from these sources
by the century’s end.” Thus, no matter how one feels toward nuclear energy, understanding
nuclear technology is ever more important for those working on contemporary
energy issues. This book is a great first step to furthering that