The most significant achievement to emerge from the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit was a pledge by 35 countries to observe the terms of a joint agreement, known as Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation.
Years ago a boss took me aside to give me a few words of advice. “You know what your problem is?” he asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. “You’re too f---ing earnest.”
Ooookaaay. No wonder I hadn’t been getting those plum assignments reserved for writers who didn’t grow up in Omaha. (Then again, this was the same editor who advised a 20-something colleague of mine that she looked young but “dressed old.” So maybe I didn’t take his counsel as earnestly as I should have.)
Last month the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), the nation’s highest classification authority, released a number of top-level government memoranda that shed additional light on the so-called NUMEC affair, "the story that won't go away—the possibility that in the 1960s, Israel stole bomb-grade uranium from a US nuclear fuel-processing plant.”
Though closely related, nuclear and climate threats have mostly been treated as separate entities. I, for example, have been immersed for more than a half century in psychological and historical aspects of nuclear weapons, but only during the last year or so have I begun a similar immersion in climate dangers. Why have people like me so neglected the climate dimension?
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' "Voices of Tomorrow" competition features regular essays, op-ed articles, and multimedia presentations written or produced by a high school student, college undergraduate, or graduate student. Submissions must address some aspect of at least one of the Bulletin's core issues: nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, biosecurity, and emerging technologies.
On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was struck by an earthquake more powerful than the one it was engineered to handle, and then flooded by a tsunami far higher than it was designed to withstand. In the aftermath of the triple core meltdown that followed, observers around the world pointed fingers at the plant’s operator, TEPCO, for not having prepared for such a disaster, citing Japan’s obvious seismic and tsunami risks.
A new, 300-page UN report says that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is unlikely to cause radiation-related cancers on anything comparable to the scale of what followed the Chernobyl meltdown.
Sudden nuclear disasters of the kind that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station three years ago may not at first glance seem to have much in common with the slow-motion planetary destruction of global warming. The two phenomena, though, are alike—and not just because they are dangerous to humankind. They unfold in similar fashion, starting with a single event which then leads to and interacts with many others. Both are also easy to foresee—but unprofitable to avert.