Fusion Energy

If one is aiming to write a blog every day about what’s going on in the world that catches one’s eye, there’s never any shortage of material or subject matter: To give an example, last week I read an article in The New Yorker about fusion energy, which unlike fission energy, which powers all the world’s nuclear energy plants, doesn’t produce radioactive waste, doesn’t carry the risk of meltdown and radioactive contamination, and produces a much more energy per pound of fuel. It’s been demonstrated to work in an experimental unit –– the physics is well understood –– but it is devilishly hard to build a nuclear fusion power plant in a way that would be commercially feasible. That goal may be reachable and it may not, but since fusion energy may be our only hope of arresting global warming, we should have spent and should be spending a lot more money trying to develop it. If the United States had spent on it a very small fraction of what it has spent subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, we might have solved the problems that thus far have been preventing fusion from becoming humankind’s cheap ticket to ubiquitous clean safe energy.