President Obama would make the world a much safer place if he took U.S. land-based nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert. He has called the policy a "dangerous relic of the Cold War," and a number of high-ranking military officers and government officials agree. So why hasn't Obama done anything about it?
It sounded like a good idea back in 2000. Two decades after the Cold War ended, the United States and Russia each agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium -- enough for about 20,000 warheads -- by combining most of it with uranium to create mixed-oxide fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.
The average American is responsible for about 21 tons of carbon emissions annually, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. If every American cut those emissions by 20 percent over the next year, it would be the equivalent of shutting down a third of the nation's 600 coal-fired power plants.
Americans' love affair with beef has consequences beyond our borders. According to Boucher's 2012 study, U.S. beef consumption helps drive tropical deforestation, which is now responsible for about 10 percent of the world's carbon emissions. As demand for beef goes up worldwide, so does deforestation.
Nuclear Matters is just the latest gambit of a very powerful political player. Over the last five years, Exelon has spent millions on political candidates and tens of millions on lobbying, and has taken advantage of its close ties with the Obama administration to weaken or stymie stronger nuclear plant safeguards.