The Nuclear Promise

In November I traveled to Boca Raton, Florida, to give the annual John O’Sullivan Memorial Lecture at Florida Atlantic University. John O’Sullivan was a scholar of the twentieth century, and was deeply concerned with nuclear issues. I was honored to be asked to talk to a packed auditorium of locals wanting to learn how to connect the tragic events of Fukushima, Japan, to the decisions they make in their daily lives.

The title of the lecture was “The Nuclear Promise: Global Consequences of An American Dream.”

I chose to focus on the promotion of nuclear solutions all over the world, in some unexpected ways. I started out by referencing some Wikileaks documents–very controversial!–that suggest that the United States has tried and failed to shut down aspects of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s global programs for years. The reason is that because the IAEA is needed to help enforce nuclear nonproliferation agreements, the agency has a long leash on its other projects. The ones I focused on were the attempts in the 1960s to develop atomic energy applications in agriculture. It’s part of my current book project, The Nuclear Promise. I’m really at the beginning of that project, having done a lot of research at the archives of the IAEA in Vienna, as well as the World Health Organization in Geneva, and Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome. I’m looking forward to seeing how all the ideas come together.

It was a wonderful trip, and the folks at Florida Atlantic University were excellent hosts. They do great work there!

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