• CatastrophesThe problems with major disasters

    There are three problems with major disasters: small miscalculations of probabilities can have large effects on outcomes when dealing with large events; our reward structures do not encourage spending the time or the money to deal with low-probability disasters; the very complexity of modern life — including our transportation and communication systems, our economy and our social interactions — is directly implicated in the severity of catastrophes; in more complex systems, even small changes or perturbations can have disproportionate and unpredictable effects

  • California's nuclear reactorsCalifornians anxious about safety of nuclear reactors

    The parallels between Japan and California are sobering: As in Japan, California’s two plants — Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo and San Onofre in Southern California — sit in active earthquake zones; like Japan’s, both rest beside the ocean and were built more than a quarter-century ago; perhaps most troubling, the San Onofre plant straddles two counties in Southern California with a combined population of 6 million people

  • Nuclear economyThe problem nuclear power generation faces: wary investors

    The Japanese disaster, in which four nuclear reactors were damaged, is important for the future of nuclear power generation not because it demonstrated the inherent risks of nuclear power (so far there are no reported death attributed to the damaged reactors); rather, the problem of nuclear power is the reluctance of investors to invest in it; experts say it was clear that the situation in Japan would further erode enthusiasm and may even affect applications for continued use of existing plants