CFR Interactive Guide Weighs Promise and Pitfalls of Increasing Reliance on Nuclear Energy

CFR Interactive Guide Weighs Promise and Pitfalls of Increasing Reliance on Nuclear Energy

March 15, 2010 2:09 pm (EST)

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Concerns over climate change and energy security have spurred countries to reevaluate their energy policies. After decades of decline, nuclear power is increasingly presented as an option to meet growing electricity demands, bolster energy security, and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Global construction of new reactors is on the rise, with some observers predicting a renaissance for nuclear power. Still, there exists an array of obstacles to expansion—from financing costly new reactors to an already strained nuclear nonproliferation regime. This Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) multimedia guide analyzes its benefits, risks, and limits.

The Nuclear Energy Guide, first released in March 2010, has been reenvisioned with updated expert content and features a new slideshow on the future of nuclear energy.

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Nuclear Energy


Coproduced by CFR and MediaStorm, the guide’s six chapters consist of:

—a cinematic overview of the most salient issues surrounding nuclear power, such as the environmental and security risks associated with its use;

—multimedia timelines that trace uses of nuclear energy from the discovery of nuclear fission, the formation of  international rules and institutions to regulate peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, and the major challenges that have emerged along the way, including proliferation;

—an interactive map detailing the approximately thirty countries operating nuclear power plants and commercial uranium enrichment facilities, and the many more with plans to develop them;

—interviews with six leading experts with both scientific expertise and policy experience, such as scientist Allison McFarlane and two former chairmen of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Shirley Ann Jackson and Richard Meserve, who point to the most pressing concerns related to nuclear power—how nuclear power can contribute to energy security, the policy implications of nuclear waste management, and other issues; and

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Nuclear Energy


—photographic slideshows that look to future developments in the nuclear industry, such as advances in nuclear technology and infrastructure, and the expansion of international programs working to secure them.

To view the Nuclear Energy Guide, visit: More CFR interactives can be found at:

This publication was made possible by the Lenfest Foundation and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Additional resources on this issue include: the multimedia “Crisis Guide: Climate Change,” the “Global Governance Monitor,” another interactive that outlines both climate change and the nuclear nonproliferation regime; and the new CFR report Energy Innovation: Driving Technology Competition and Cooperation Among the U.S., China, India, and Brazil, by Michael A. Levi, Elizabeth C. Economy, Shannon K. O’Neil, and Adam Segal.

The Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Since 1922, CFR has also published Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.

MediaStorm is a production company whose principal aim is to usher in the next generation of multimedia storytelling by publishing social documentary projects incorporating photojournalism, interactivity, animation, audio, and video for distribution across multiple media.


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