Friday, February 1, 2008

Gwyneth Cravens

Gwyneth Cravens was like a lot of people. She knew something about nuclear energy and she was against it.

But she happened to make the acquaintance of D. Richard Anderson, who was thoroughly plugged into nuclear technology. It turned out that he was something of a major force in nuclear safety and he was able to open doors for her. Fortunately, Ms. Cravens is an intelligent, curious person who took advantage of an opportunity to track down all the facts. To make it better, she also is a skilled writer, able to present information accurately and clearly. Thanks to her gifts we are able to go on her Nuclear America Tour.

She and we see it all. Research laboratories, power plants, mines, waste isolation sites, everything that has to do with nuclear energy. But there's even more: she's able to talk with experts, people who've worked in these places for years.

And she lays it all out: facts and figures. The good and the bad. And she compares the alternatives. It's about as complete a reference as you're likely to find.

She describes herself going into it this way: "I lacked a clear sense of what radiation actually was, didn't know much about its sources, didn't distinguish between low-dose radiation and high-dose radiation, and was foggy about the difference between exposure and dose and about radioactive decay. I had no idea how a nuclear plant worked."

Near the end, she quotes a remark made by Anderson:

"One day God could say to us: I gave you the brainiest men and women in human history to come up with an understanding of the atom and its nucleus. I gave you enough uranium and thorium to last you for thousands of years. I gave you an understanding of how when uranium decays it releases energy. You didn't need to invent anything else. You had everything you needed to provide energy for yourselves and your descendants without harming the environment. What else did you want?"

Cravens, Gwyneth. Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007

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