How Russian nukes power America


"And they shall beat their swords into plowshares," could easily be turned into, "And they shall dismantle their nuclear warheads into enriched uranium for nuclear power plants."

The New York Times reports 10 percent of electricity in the United States is generated from old nuclear bombs. For comparison, hydropower accounts for 6 percent and solar, biomass, wind and geothermal combined account for 3 percent.  No data exists for how much power bunnies contribute.

In recent years, disarmament has generated a wealth of nuclear fuel. As the New York Times article says, "the fuel from missiles that may have once been aimed at your home may now be lighting it."

45 percent of nuclear fuel in American reactors comes from old Soviet bombs. The problem is that the fuel is running out, and in order to keep powering 4.5 percent of the United States more disarmament is needed.  

The old program, known as Megatons to Megawatts will end in 2013, but because nuclear plants need to buy fuel three to five years in advance, the issue is of utmost importance right now. A new supply of fuel would become available if the United States and Russia would agree to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December. Currently the USA has 2,220 warheads and Russia has 2,800.  

With or without the added Soviet fuel, the US is investing heavily in the old-bombs-to-new-fuel strategy, as a factory is being built in South Carolina to dismantle American warheads. It will be able to recycle 34 tons of nuclear fuel that can power a million homes for 50 years.

United Nations Photo/Flickr


Obama might head to Copenhagen?

The headline on this story reads: "Obama will go to Copenhagen to clinch deal."

That's a touch misleading.

What the headline on this story should really read is: "Obama will go to Copenhagen if and only if his appearance is necessary in order to clinch a deal."

On one hand, this is good news. Even if the United States can't be a strong party in climate change negotiations, it is of vital importance that Obama act as a strong diplomat and negotiator on this issue. The whole world is at stake.

On the other hand, isn't this a bit rich? The U.S. slow-walk on this issue is part of the reason the Copenhagen negotiations have been so fraught. If a comprehensive agreement falters in December, the United States will be in no small part to blame. But its leader might parachute in at the last moment to save the day? Sigh.