With the constant threat of oil shortages facing us and wanting to educate herself about possible alternatives, Gwyneth Cravens skeptically sets out to find for herself the truth about nuclear energy. Her conclusion: It is a totally viable and practical solution to global warming. She enlists the help of Rip Anderson, a leading scientist in the field of risk assessment, and with his tutelage, she travels the country, visiting uranium mines, enrichment centers, reactors, and waste sites.
Along the way we learn a lot of science, review the history of nuclear energy, relive the battles over it, see how successfully it has been applied all over the world, examine the misconceptions, and compare nuclear power to other energy sources, with their risks and benefits. Cravens is not out to deliver a polemic, however. Coming from a childhood spent building fallout shelters, Cravens viscerally understands the terror the word "nuclear" evokes. She gives us a vocabulary for practical risk assessment while investigating the psychology of nuclear fears, starting with the secrecy of the Manhattan Project and the legacy of government cover-ups both here and in the USSR. One by one, she dismantles the arguments against nuclear energy.
©2007 Gwenyth Craves (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
This is a perfect book for Audible readers. I bet there is a large portion of Audible members who read because they love learning more than they love being entertained. This book is both an expose on nuclear energy and also a story of personal discovery from the author. Gwyneth openly admits to beginning her research from a deep-seeded anti-nuclear point of view. The more she learned about her topic, the more she learned that she was wrong. Gasp! Nuclear energy is GOOD.
I wish there were more books like this one because they are about enlightenment; they are about solving problems with truth instead of superstitious beliefs. Education can defeat fear.
In this book the author explores nuclear energy, the alternatives to nuclear energy, and then realizes the importance of coming face to face with our fears of it. We can’t see radiation. The word itself evokes mushroom clouds, Chernobyl, and mutated animals. There is something psychological about why we fear nuclear energy, but this book wants us to look under the bed to see there is no boogey man. The upside is nothing less than a serious replacement to fossil fuel consumption and our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Before we can embrace nuclear energy, we first must understand it.
My major criticisms to note:
The author spends very little time talking about advanced reactors, devoting a bit to talking about sodium fast breeders, a paragraph on helium gas-cooled reactors, and perhaps a hat nod to salt cooled reactors and the rest. It reads mostly as an apology for light water reactors, albeit a good one.
Gwyneth focuses on Rip almost exclusively. Although this is decent as a narrative device, using the dialogue between herself and Rip as the core narrative of the book, it wears a bit old after several hours of Gwyneth's intentionally dumbed-down questions to Rip, and the narrator did not help by making them sound like an endless barrage of questions with no clear chronological progression, I.e. earlier, more naïve questions making way to more nuanced questions as she learned more.
Overall a good listen, I would recommend to people that don't like nuclear power at all, but I still enjoyed as a relatively ignorant nuke nerd.
This book was very informative of the nuclear power life cycle in a learning story experience of the author. It did get a bit hard to finish and boring at times but all in all had some good take aways about the entire process cradle to grave.
I'm just a big kid.
Ms Cravens is a lifelong environmental activist who once held the conventional view that nuclear power is evil, evil, evil.
Unlike a lot of activists, she got curious enough to actually look at the science of nuclear energy. After looking deeply at the science of nuclear energy she realized that if man caused climate change is real, then nuclear power isn't an option, nuclear power is required to save the world.
The most helpful part of the book is the deep discussion of what radiation actually is, the different types of radiation, effects of radiation on living things, and how much radiation people are exposed to in their daily lives.
The author traveled around the country visiting nuclear energy related facilities around the country. She goes into explicit detail concerning radiation levels, half lives, safety standards, and risk comparison with other industrial processes.
The author goes into so much detail that the book becomes a bit repetitive near the end, hence the four star rating.
Having said that, this is still a must read book for anyone interested in nuclear energy.
This book gave the layman a general understanding of the different kinds of nuclear technologies. It explained why it is the best technology for the future. It is the safest and it causes the least amount of pollution to the environment. The book explain how we can get rid of all the dangerous waste by recycling it through the use of an Intergral Fast reactor and create waste that will be safe in 2 to 4 hundred year. It went into the inherit safety of nuclear power plants and why they could never blow up like atomic bombs, even if you hit one with a full sized passenger jet. Then it went into a long discussion of how we are currently storing our nuclear waste and what we plan to do in the future. We can survive and leave a clean planet to our children and children's children if if we just move to nuclear power. Then we will have enough energy for the future. France did it in less than 20 years and even sell some of their power.
If you're curious about nuclear power or looking for some insight to support an arguement for climate change, this book is a great start. As the reign of fossil fuels draws nearer to an end, now more than ever it is important to be informed on our options that satisfy our need for clean energy. This book delves into the complex details of the many facets of nuclear energy and breaks them down for easier mental digestion. From its discovery, the complexities of radiation and exposure to it, the disasters that befell Chernobyl and TMI to nuclear disarmament for power generation to name just a few. Cravens documents her discussions with experts in the field well and the narrator makes it easy to keep track of who's who. If you're looking to gain a foot hold on a complex but important subject, this book is for you.
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