Foreign Policy Blogs


I'm not entirely sure how, but I seem to have avoided one of the several six-hundred pound gorillas in the climate change room for nearly a year:  nuclear power.  It might have something to do with the fact that , full disclosure time , I started my environmental activist life a good long time ago fighting against nuclear power.  I have not really changed my view.  No need to go into any of that here now, though.

That being said, it is certainly important to note the many ins and outs of this key power source.  For background, the U.S. Department of Energy has some useful resources here.  For an up-to-date "factbox" on the world's 439 operating nuclear power plants, see this from Reuters' "Planet Ark."

The big story of the day is that the U.K. government has announced a decision to forge ahead with a new generation of plants.  See New nuclear plants get go-ahead from the BBC.  The plants will be privately built, generally in the footprint of existing plants.  (The BBC story, not incidentally, has links to a ton of useful background material on nukes in general and Britain's history in particular.)  The government's announcement has not come without voices in opposition.  In short, "Critics say new reactors will be expensive, dirty and dangerous."  The government's white paper on "The Future of Nuclear Power" can be found here, along with a considerable body of back up material.

"Planet Ark" has another story about how the British decision is going to influence others.  None of this, of course, is happening in a vacuum.  One of the drivers for the adoption of nuclear power is the threat of catastrophic climate change, with such ecological pioneers as James Lovelock and Steward Brand among the proponents of nukes.  A number of nations, including the United States, Russia, China, France and Japan, announced a pact in September to create a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.  Here's a news item, again from "Planet Ark," on the creation of this entity.

Whether you like it or not, nukes are very much in the mix, and it's incumbent upon all of us concerned about climate change and the issues surrounding it to educate ourselves on the subject.  You'll be seeing more here.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change