Nuclear Ethics

Todd Pedlar, associate professor of physics

Among the challenges that face us as a society in the coming decades is the need to find alternatives to coal and natural gas to supply our baseilne electricity generation.   Wind power and solar energy are attractive options, but because of the intermittent nature of the power generated by either of those technologies, neither presents a sound option to supply our constant power needs, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Therefore at present, the only viable alternative is nuclear power generation, which brings with it a host of possible ethical and environmental concerns.  In this course we will discuss the basic methods of nuclear power generation, and talk about new nuclear reactor designs that alleviate some of the concerns of older reactors.  The majority of our time will be spent exploring the range of ethical and environmental concerns that make the choice to invest heavily in nuclear energy a challenge, and do our best to begin answering the question, "Nevertheless, is it something we ought to pursue?"