Dr. Allison MacFarlane is an Associate Professor of Environment Science and Policy at George Mason University. She is also a self proclaimed nuclear agnostic who is not sure that nuclear power can grow much.
About a month ago a friend sent me a link to an interesting panel discussion that was held at MIT on March 1, 2007 titled The Future of Nuclear Energy.
Dr. MacFarlane was one of the participants on that panel. Her comments during that video intrigued me since she expressed some comfort with the record of currently operating nuclear plants and their importance in the world economy, but she also expressed strong reservations about the idea that there would be any kind of strong resurgence of the technology anytime soon.
I thought it would be fun to talk with her and ask her some of the questions that I would have liked to ask if I had been able to attend the session in person (and if there were no bouncers to take me out once I had worn out my welcome.) (Remind me someday to tell you about the time that I was kicked out of a nuclear industry gathering for asking too many hard questions of the invited NRC representative.)
Anyway, Dr. MacFarlane and I talked about energy economics, long term used material concepts, weapons proliferation, global climate change, carbon sequestration (she thinks it is completely within our current state of technology to consider storing the material for a few thousand years), and the importance of planning for future generations.
At the end, I do not think either one of us really learned much from the other, but my hope is that you listeners can take something of value from the conversation and make your own choices about the future viability of new nuclear power plants.