I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of an informative and important book written by Gwyneth Cravens titled “Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy”. (You can find out a bit more about the book and the publication schedule at Borzoi Reader | Catalog | Power to Save the World by Gwyneth Cravens.) Here is a look at the cover.
Gwyneth, like Stuart Brand, Patrick Moore, James Lovelock, and Bishop Hugh Montefiore is a “switcher” or a “convert” who has spent a good deal of time in the anti-nuclear world. She is a resident of Long Island who participated in the successful, and ultimately very expensive, fight to prevent Long Island Lighting Co. from operating the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. However, as a native of Albuquerque, NM, she had the opportunity to develop a social acquaintance with Rip Anderson, one of the leading researchers and practitioners of probabilistic risk assessment of nuclear facilities.
Her occasional discussions with Dr. Anderson began to disturb her previously firm belief that nuclear power represented an unreasonably risky endeavor that should not be allowed to flourish. Eventually, she decided that she needed to learn more – I love people like that! Through her connection with Dr. Anderson, she set up visits to mines, a uranium mill, waste storage facilities in Idaho, a coal fired steam plant, a nuclear power plant, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Yucca Mountain, and probably some other sites that I have overlooked in the list.
At each site she met with people who patiently – most of the time – explained their jobs, shared personal stories about why they think they those jobs are important and discussed why they disagree with the common perceptions about nuclear energy. She saw with her own eyes the contrast between a nuclear plant where one of the workers stated “you can eat off of the floor” and a coal plant where such a comment would be ridiculous. She saw how waste is handled in both the nuclear world and the fossil fuel world. In short, she had a journey of discovery that resulted in a complete shift of view.
Even after 26 years of studying the topic pretty thoroughly, I found that I learned quite a bit about several topics that I knew little to nothing about. It was also nice to see the world where I have spent so much time described through a new set of eyes that were inspired by the goodness that she saw.
I highly recommend that you put in an advanced order for this book to add to your personal library; you might want to order several as gifts for doubting friends and colleagues.
If you happen to live near San Francisco, you might be interested in the following opportunity to learn more about Gwyneth’s voyage of discovery.
From: Stewart Brand
Date: Sep 10, 2007 1:00 PM
Subject: [Speakers] The true state of nuclear energy, FRIDAY Sep 14 (for forwarding)
“The best introduction to the current realities and benefits of nuclear power.” That’s the blurb I wrote for Gwyneth Craven’s book POWER TO SAVE THE WORLD, due out next month. My rule on blurbing is that I don’t do it unless the book is so good I would buy copies to give to friends and colleagues.
A science journalist and novelist, and long an activist against nuclear, Cravens had her assumptions shaken through friendship with the leading expert on nuclear risk assessment at Sandia National Laboratories, D. Richard Anderson, known as “Rip”. Both are professional skeptics. They took their skepticism on the road to travel the uranium atom’s path in America from mine to refinery to reactor to short-term and long-term storage, with a side trip to the coal alternative. It is a revelatory journey.
“Power to Save the World,” Gwyneth Cravens with Rip Anderson, Herbst Theater, San Francisco, 7pm, Friday, September 14. The lecture starts promptly at 7:30pm. Admission is free (a $10 donation is always welcome, not required). One questioner for the speakers will be Richard Rhodes (author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb and a future SALT speaker.) Abundant time will be left for questions, since there are plenty on this subject.