An Open Letter to President Obama: The Time on the Doomsday Clock is Five Minutes to Midnight

By Robert Socolow, Thomas Rosenbaum, Lawrence J. Korb, Lynn Eden, Rod Ewing, Alexander Glaser, James E. Hansen, Sivan Kartha, Edward “Rocky” Kolb, Lawrence M. Krauss, Leon Lederman, Ramamurti Rajaraman, M. V. Ramana, Robert Rosner, Jennifer Sims, Richard C. J. Somerville, and Elizabeth J. Wilson

The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board announces its 2013 decision to keep in place the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock: It will remain at five minutes to midnight. In this open letter to US President Barack Obama, the Board presents its views on the key issues that affected its decision and provides the president with recommendations to consider in 2013 and throughout his second term.

Read the letter here.

2012 International Energy Workshop

Alex Glaser was one of the keynote speakers at the 2012 International Energy Workshop held at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His talk reviewed the international responses to the Fukushima Accidents and assessed the potential impact on deployment trajectories for nuclear power, noting that many energy scenarios still envision an early and large expansion of nuclear power on a global scale. Partly as a result of the Fukushima accidents from March 2011, many of these growth projections have become increasingly unrealistic.

The talk also examined the prospects of small modular reactors, which have begun to attract significant attention as an alternative to standard gigawatt-scale plants. Taken together, these recent developments suggest that nuclear power may play a more limited role in a future low-carbon energy system than previously anticipated. The slides of the talk are available here.

Balancing Risks: Nuclear Energy and Climate Change

by Robert H. Socolow and Alexander Glaser

Nuclear power could make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. To do so, however, nuclear power must be deployed extensively, including in the developing world. A “one-tier” world will be required–that is, a world with an agreed set of rules to govern nuclear power that are the same in all countries.

In this article, we argue that the world is not now safe for a rapid global expansion of nuclear energy. Nuclear-energy use today relies on technologies and a system of national governance of the nuclear fuel cycle that carry substantial risks of nuclear weapons proliferation. The risks that a global expansion of nuclear power will facilitate nuclear proliferation and incidents of nuclear terrorism, or even lead to regional nuclear war, are significant. Nuclear war is a terrible trade for slowing the pace of climate change.