2 January 2017

What role could nuclear power play in limiting climate change?

Alex Hearn

Alex Hearn is a Bulletin intern and a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago, where he is studying public policy, with a specialization in nuclear policy. 

Robert Rosner

Rosner is the William E. Wrather distinguished service professor in the departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics...


Using nuclear power to replace coal-based fossil fuel power plants worldwide by 2100 is within current international technical capabilities. Whether this can actually be accomplished is however a more complicated matter: The possible obstacles involve negative public perception and fears; dealing with the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, that is, the ultimate disposal of the used nuclear fuel; and the matter of security, which becomes a potentially far more serious issue as nuclear power plants proliferate. Thus – surely to no thoughtful person’s surprise – whether we can realistically replace fossil fuels as a source for electrical generation with nuclear power is a political, and not a technical, issue.