What sort of future does nuclear technology have in the United States? The answers to this and other questions form an important part of a new book, "Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima."
"Nukespeak," from authors Richard C. Bell and Rory O'Connor, is an updated, 30th anniversary edition of a book the authors first published in the wake of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.
The title, which the authors say is a nod to George Orwell's fictional language Newspeak, refers to the language and mindset of nuclear technology and its supporters in the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
In the 30 years since they first authored "Nukespeak," the authors say they have been surprised by how little things have changed. O'Connor told HuffPost a big problem is still the lack of a means of "preventing countries from using their nuclear power programs as a stepping-stone to nuclear weapons."
The authors contend that officials have learned important lessons since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, but nuclear power generation remains dangerous because "it is impossible to fully understand and predict the operation of such a complex machine," O'Connor explained.
Following the meltdown earlier this year at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, world opinions toward nuclear power have varied. In Europe, the Czech Republic has decided to step up its nuclear power production, as nearly opposite plans have been made in countries like Germany and Switzerland.
Japanese faith in nuclear power was shaken by the events at Fukushima surrounding the tsunami and earthquake. Last month, tens of thousands of people gathered in central Tokyo "to call on Japan's government to abandon atomic energy," according to the Associated Press.
HuffPost blogger Danielle Brian wrote after August's East Coast earthquake that shook a Virginia nuclear plant, "I do not rest easy thinking that if that earthquake was just somewhat more powerful -- just a few tenths of a percent on the Richter scale -- we might not be laughing about knocked over lawn chairs after the quake."
Despite the realization that America's nuclear power facilities may be more susceptible to earthquake damage than previously thought, "the accident at Fukushima has not cooled the nuclear industry’s claims that nuclear power is a 'clean, green' solution to global warming," Bell said.
The authors argue that the marketplace shares their view that investment in nuclear power infrastructure is "unwise." O'Connor said the nuclear industry is "largely unwilling to invest in new plants without billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees."
The authors, writing in GlobalPost, suggested Obama "let the 'invisible hand' of a skeptical marketplace bury the industry once and for all."
This month, "peaceniks and neocons alike" met in California at the Reagan presidential library to discuss the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.
More information on Sierra Club Books' "Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima" can be found on the book's website or on Amazon.com. The book is now also available in e-book format.