Plutonium Towns in the Cold War

Note: this is my contribution to an online roundtable on Kate Brown’s book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford, 2013). The roundtable was published in H-Environment Roundtable Reviews 4:5 (2014). For the full roundtable, including Kate Brown’s response, click here. Few places encapsulate the concept of the Faustian bargain more…

Does Crisis in Ukraine Shatter the Nuclear Order?

Ukraine’s inability to stop Russia from seizing Crimea may sound the death knell for the global nuclear order. For years I have written about the environmental dimensions of nuclear power and nuclear weapons programs, and more recently I have been exploring the connection between environmental crisis rhetoric and the proliferation of nuclear communities all over…

Our Friend the Atom Goes to Mexico

As Arming Mother Nature goes to press, I’m deeply involved in my next project.  This one’s on the promotion of nuclear technology in the developing world.  The tentative title is Nuclear Outposts.  I will soon be in Mexico City presenting at a colloquium at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) with a few other scholars working…

Arms of Precision and Weapons of Mass Destruction

I am currently researching the spread of nuclear technology in the developing world, which means I have to confront the politics of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Although I support the NPT, as a historian it is hard to analyze it without some kind of nod to the “haves” and “have nots” aspect of it.  As…

Nuclear Proliferation Begins with Peace

I’m at the end of my second full day in the United Kingdom’s National Archives, and I fell asleep three times at my research desk… still suffering a bit from the jet lag.  But it is not (I swear!) from lack of interest in the files I am reading.  It’s true that I get a…

Japan Forum: Fukushima and the Motifs of Nuclear History

How do we tell the story of Fukushima?  The finger-pointing frenzy that occurred in the wake of the crisis is extremely useful for historians.  As people tried to blame each other, they enlisted a range of understandings–and misunderstandings–about the history of nuclear issues.  As historians, we need to be conscious of the power of the…

Finding Perspective on Nuclear Concerns

This was the cover story in my local paper, part of the flurry of media attention about my work after the Fukushima disaster.  I had very mixed emotions about gaining such local notoriety (something any scholar enjoys, especially when kids see their dad on the front page of the paper!), when the real hardship and…

Impact of Radiation on Ocean Water may be Seen in Long Term

Recently I was interviewed by a reporter for the China-focused newspaper The Epoch Times to discuss the Fukushima incident.  Here is the article, with a link to the whole thing (free to read): — Since the first explosion occurred at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 12, steam and smoke carrying radioactive…

What will our Energy Legacy Be?

I recently wrote an opinion piece for The Oregonian, in response to the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.  Here is the start of it (with a link to the rest of it, which you can read for free).  Comments appreciated! The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan is a potent reminder of how vulnerable…