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Return to Book Page. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published October 30th by Knopf first published April 17th More Details Original Title. Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Power to Save the World , please sign up. Fantastic book, one of the only two great books about nuclear power aimed at and accessible to non-scientists, has this been an 'entry' book into nuclear power for people?
See 1 question about Power to Save the World…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 10, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: general-science , to , american-history , owned-books , good-things , coldwar , intellectual-history , chemistry , education , general-history. A fairly good book on the politics and technology of nuclear power. Still, I think the author is a little too boosterish. That doesn't detract much from the book which has a lot of good information on the industry.
Not bad and fairly informative even if a little biased. Nov 29, Meredith rated it really liked it. I wholeheartedly agree with the statements made in this book. There are so many arguments for nuclear power and so few against that for an intelligent person, reading this book is almost an academic confirmation exercise. The fact that the author repeatedly invokes the theory of man-made global warming as the principal argument in favour of the technology which of course emits no carbon dioxide is just a slight annoyance that should be generally self evident.
This is an informative book of inte I wholeheartedly agree with the statements made in this book. This is an informative book of interesting facts for educated laypeople not involved in the industry, and worth a read by those who object to nuclear power on misguided ideological grounds but who are willing to learn something. Unfortunately, the latter is likely a very small group. Feb 14, Nicole Conlan rated it really liked it. Hoo boy. Giving this a rating of 4 because I think the information presented in the book is really valuable, but man this writing style really grated on me after a while and it was a struggle to get through the final few chapters.
That being said, I've always been very pro-nuclear, so I think if I were more wary of nuclear power in the first place I would have appreciated the way this book was written a little bit more. For anyone who is truly concerned about the environment and is willing to accept that we've been given a bunch of feel-good bones while oil and coal manufacturers politically maneuver our leaders and the media into positions that ensure their profits and bypasses any regulation to curb their underestimated environmental impact.
At times, the book is a bit heavy-handed as Cravens dispels myths about radiation, nuclear power, nuclear waste, and the impact of the nuclear industry on the environment For anyone who is truly concerned about the environment and is willing to accept that we've been given a bunch of feel-good bones while oil and coal manufacturers politically maneuver our leaders and the media into positions that ensure their profits and bypasses any regulation to curb their underestimated environmental impact. At times, the book is a bit heavy-handed as Cravens dispels myths about radiation, nuclear power, nuclear waste, and the impact of the nuclear industry on the environment.
Nevertheless, the science is sound. Jul 13, Adrienne rated it it was amazing. Interesting, well researched, definite proof that using my almighty nuclear engineering skills I can take over the world. Thank Gwyneth when I'm older and run everything, will you?
Aug 14, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: science. With Sandia National Laboratories close by, she worried that the Soviets were going to bomb her home into oblivion. As she got older, like many Americans, she associated nuclear power with nuclear bombs and thus became anti-nuclear. After relocating to Long Island, she joined protesters in successfully preventing the Shoreham nuclear power plant from ever coming on line.
It's now something she regrets.
5 Fast Facts About Nuclear Energy | Department of Energy
In the early 90's, while visiting friends and family back in Albuquerque, she met Dr. She struck up a conversation with him that would ultimately lead her over the next decade through a tour of the entire nuclear power industry: uranium mines, research labs in Idaho, Three Mile Island, power plants, old weapons test sites, and waste disposal sites. Although she didn't visit Chernobyl, there's a chapter that analyzes what went wrong and why it couldn't happen here. Cravens covers radiation, mining, fuel supply, politics and regulations, costs, risk assessment, waste storage, improvements in reactor design, safety, terrorism, baseline energy demand, and contrasts the nuclear industry with coal.
Cravens, a novelist by trade, is able to make a book about physics and engineering, which could be dull to non-technical readers, a compelling read. We're there as she makes her journey through the nuclear world. Vivid descriptions and colorful anecdotes break up the science lessons and statistical evidence presented to destroy the myths and allay the fears that people including herself have regarding nuclear power.
The most illuminating portion of the book for me was the fact that we are awash in radiation from natural sources. The universe, our planet, and everything we eat, exposes us to radiation. Had a banana lately? Anything with potassium in it harbors Potassium atoms, which emits beta radiation.
Is nuclear power worth the risk?
Feeling sick now? You shouldn't. Cravens tears apart the belief that radiation exposure is harmful at all levels as all the evidence shows that low level exposure is harmless and that there is a threshold that must be passed before damage occurs. However, regulations have been established that all radiation is bad, hence the great lengths that power plants and waste repositories must go through to insulate the public. For example, the EPA states that the neighbors of nuclear power plant must not be subjected to more than 15 millirems of radiation. By contrast, a chest X-ray exposes you to 10 millirem.
Dental X-ray 29 millirem. The granite in Grand Central Station exposes people to millirem assuming you were there round the clock. Yet there are no cancer clusters among Grand Central workers, dental technicians, airline pilots, flight attendants, or the residents of Denver. Tobacco plants, it seems, have an affinity for radionuclides. While she defends the science of nuclear power and defends the engineering incorporated into structures, she doesn't brown nose the corporations that own the power plants.
She acknowledges that they've miscommunicated, kept things hidden, and made poor strategic decisions. The industry is over regulated. And while that's forced workers to adopt a culture of safety a good thing she argues it's over the top. I worked for a chemical company that would've been shut down if it had to report every single little spill that happened. A few milliliters of a non-reactive substance is harmless. So too are the "accidents" at nuclear power plants that you read in the paper or hear about from shrill anti-nuclear groups. But even water leaks that don't come into contact with the reactor are required to be reported.
Do you tell your health insurance company every time you blow your nose? In fact, if the chemical, oil, and coal industries had to live up to the standards imposed on the nuclear industry, they wouldn't be able to stay in business due to regulatory expenditures. There's just so much in this book.
Only Nuclear Energy Can Save the Planet
I could go on and on and on about the material in this book especially about radiation but time, space, and my kids prevent me from doing so. I strongly recommend that everyone read this book it's in paperback now too to get the facts about nuclear power. Or go to Cravens' website. At the end of the book, Cravens visits a clinic to determine her level of exposure after ten years of researching her book.
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After visiting uranium mines, Three Mile Island, a couple nuclear power plants, nuclear research sites, bomb test sites, and waste repositories, her test results came back negative. May 14, Jonathan rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , women-authors.
A thorough look at nuclear energy and the options the world faces for power in the future. Cravens was an organic gardener in the s, marched against the Bomb as well as a nuclear power plant in NY state, she is a classic north easterner who wrote for the New Yorker and now a novelist by trade - so her liberal credentials are impeccable. She writes about her journey of learning about nuclear energy from a starting point of knowing nothing and so takes us with her on the path of discovery. She A thorough look at nuclear energy and the options the world faces for power in the future.
She wants to know everything and asks every question that the ordinary non-scientist punters like myself wish to know. It is all written up thoughtfully as well as extremely thoroughly as would befit a former New Yorker writer. I learned that nuclear radiation is everywhere and that natural background radiation in some parts of the world is many times higher than elsewhere, including even places like Chernobyl.
Taking an airplane flight hugely ups your radiation dose, again much more than Chernobyl, but is still safe. Life itself evolved in concert with natural background radiation - from rocks, from space, from bananas even, so radiation is a natural part of life and its low level effects, even in relatively highly radioactive parts of the world, have not been proven to be dangerous. The nuclear industry has an extraordinarily good safety record, especially compared to other energy producers.
I realised that my fear of nuclear energy is based on superstitious ignorance because I did not understand it. The many ecologically minded scientists in the book tear their hair out at the lack of public understanding and paranoia about nuclear energy probably partly caused by its conflation in people's minds with nuclear bombs. Costs are high but if carbon were priced according to its true cost nuclear is good value long term.
Renewables like solar and wind are good but cannot and will not for the foreseeable future provide nearly enough energy, let alone at the right times. The best argument for nuclear is of course in comparison to fossil fuels especially coal. Even if coal did not pump out carbon it is still poisonous, full of lead, arsenic and other nasties.
The visit to the dirty coal plant and this was as show plant that the industry were keen for people to see is shocking after the ultra clean, ultra organised nuclear plant visits. Coal also produces a lot of radiation, in quantities vastly larger than a nuclear power station. This book intelligently and thoughtfully explains all the issues from every angle. Jul 06, Bruce Sanders rated it it was ok. For me this book was annoying. It is a "green nuclear" book that argues that nuclear power is necessary to save the world from global warming.
The author does this by taking tours with a nuclear scientist through the whole nuclear cycle from mine to power plant to waste storage repository. The author also takes a tour of a coal plant which emphasizes how bad coal is from an environmental standpoint for generating energy. Much of what the book does is talk about radiation pollution, and the book For me this book was annoying. Much of what the book does is talk about radiation pollution, and the book does a good job of allaying fears in that regard.
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I suppose with the public in general this needs to be done, but that is what I found annoying about the work. Radiation pollution is not the problem with nuclear power--despite the public's perception it never was. The problem with nuclear power is the cost. The book hardly addresses cost at all except to say it is cheap.
But that is just begging the question. In fact, the cited cost of the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste repository, military radioactive waste cleanup projects, nuclear research facilities, and other places she toured suggests otherwise. These are just a few of the costs that are never considered when people price out nuclear power. So too, the author buys the claim without questioning it that there is not enough continually reliable renewable energy to provide base load electricity needs for the power grid.
This is just incorrect for example, the author has apparently never heard of high-altitude wind turbines, or wave surge power plants. In particular, high-altitude wind energy has the potential to be cheaper and much simpler to implement than a nuclear revival and at a fraction of the cost. The nuclear scientist, Rip D. Richardson Anderson , is the person that escorts the author on her tours and explains to her why nuclear power is the way to go.
Rip does a great job of making the case for nuclear. But, when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, and if you are a nuclear scientist then it is not surprising that nuclear power is the answer to our energy crisis. The book does a good job of educating the public about the safety of nuclear power, and that is important given that there is going to be something of a nuclear revival.
But in suggesting that nuclear power is necessary to save the world, the book is a failure; mainly because the author just didn't do her homework with regards to alternative energy sources. Mar 29, Karen Ng rated it it was amazing Shelves: science , education , environment , 21st-century-learning. Daughter read this book for her Biology debate and told me that it may change my opinions about the right kind of energy to use in the future After finishing the book in two days, I have to say I'm impressed.
Gwyneth Cravens presented a very complex and scary subject in most people's mind, including mine in a way that is fun and simple to read. She addressed every fear that we have, including waste disposal, safety, radiation, cost, cancer risk It's not only the best, but the only option that we have for energy generation for now There are many surprising facts about nuclear energy, as well as the alternatives, that she presented in her book. The ones were the most shocking was that if we use nuclear energy to power all our need, in our whole life, the amount of waste would fit perfectly in a SODA CAN.
I also learned the cost, the pollution, the danger, and the space and cost that are required to use other forms of energy production, including wind, sun, water and our present fuels. There's just no other way that would produce enough energy to power what we need, which increases exponentially yearly, with lowest cost and the least pollution.
This book definitely opened my eyes.. We need to educate our children early, so they're not fed with fear and the wrong information.
Jun 27, dug rated it liked it Recommends it for: anyone. I really enjoyed this book. Anyone who is totally against nuclear energy should give it a read. I haven't read anything in depth from the opposing viewpoint, but this book definitely opened my eyes about what science has done to make nuclear safe. Who knew that plans for disposing of nuclear waste had already been worked out for a few different locations? If you don't beleive me, then read it. Dec 04, Becky rated it really liked it Shelves: 20s. A firsthand experience of a women, who grew up in the backyard of Los Alamos and feared nuclear power, and her journey researching nuclear power.
Starting with a little background on how nuclear power works and then delving into the process from mining to electricity production, her position on nuclear power is changed as she learns about the safety of nuclear power. Highly recommended to gain insight into the industry and learn about the safety of nuclear power. May 18, Peter Watkins rated it really liked it.
This book is easy to read--written like a novel. It's definitely pro-nuclear energy and would be good to read alongside an anti-nuclear energy book.