Secretary John Kerry Shifts Position on Nuclear Power to Face the Challenge of Climate Change

By Chris Lyon |

The debate over nuclear power is a hotly contested one. Opponents cite old and still important challenges like safety of citizens from atomic radiation, security of nuclear material, and the remaining waste product produced by nuclear power. Some of these issues had almost been forgotten by the public until the explosion of Fukushima Daiichi, a Generation II nuclear plant in Japan, in 2011. Nuclear disaster is a fear deeply embedded in our psyche. It’s the subject of countless movie plots and TV shows.

However, in the last decade a new fervor for nuclear has been building around nuclear both for and against. This interest has inspired the creation documentary films and sparked the formation of new companies which aim to tackle the things that make the public uneasy about nuclear. Proponents have been touting new safety systems and a return to research performed in the 60s and 70s on reactors that would produce far less waste than current designs.

Increasingly, both sides have been playing tug of war over this information, but little has been said directly by the Obama administration. Obama did appoint Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, to the post of Energy Secretary in 2013, but both Moniz and the administration have been relatively quiet about nuclear since that time – until this week.

During a speech at MIT on January 9, 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that he once did not believe nuclear was a viable solution and supported Bill Clinton in shutting down nuclear research. He went on to say that, given the challenge of climate change and the advances in nuclear proposed in Generation IV, that researchers should “go for it”.

This kind of ability to reassess one’s position with scientific advancements, learning new information, and placing it in the context of the challenge of climate change and the food/water/energy nexus is what the Rational Middle is all about.

Watch the video below.

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