Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine.
Charles Krauthammer is a (very) conservative columnist for the Washington Post. I won't tell you whether I agree with his politics (I hope you have no idea about my political leanings, or even if I have any), or his thoughts about nuclear power, but he is an excellent writer; always clear, always concise, often biting, usually witty. He's won the Pulitzer Prize, and has an M.D. from Harvard. He also has an undergrad degree in economics and poly sci. He left medicine in the late 70's to work for the Carter administration, at which time he also began writing (including writing speeches for Walter Mondale, Carter's VP).
Note: If you're going to read Charles K., you've also got to read Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist and liberal columnist for the New York Times. As I've said before, read everything (left, right and center) and form your own opinions. You won't learn much if you only listen to people that you agree with.
I've cut most of the interview, because the topics don't relate to our class, but I found this portion interesting enough to share.
SPIEGEL: How do you solve problems like climate change if international institutions are failing?
Krauthammer: It's not the institution that does it, it's the confluence of interests. Where there is a confluence of interests among nations, as, for example the swine flu or polio, you can get well functioning international institutions like the World Health Organization. And you can act. Climate change is different, because the science remains hypothetical and the potential costs staggering.
SPIEGEL: You think it's a speculative theory?
Krauthammer: My own view is that there is man-made warming. On several occasions I have written that I don't think you can pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere indefinitely and not have a reaction. But there are great scientists such as Freeman Dyson, one of the greatest physicists of the last hundred years, who has studied the question, who believes quite the opposite. The reason transnational action is so difficult is because the major problem with climate change is, A, that there is no consensus, and, B, that the economic cost is simply staggering. Reversing it completely might mean undoing the modern industrial economy.
I'm not against international institutions that would try to tackle it. But the way to go, at least in the short run, is to go to nuclear power. It's amazing to me that people who are so alarmed about global warming are so reluctant to adopt the obvious short-term solution -- the bridge until the day when we have affordable renewable energy -- of nuclear power. It seems to me intellectually dishonest. Nuclear is obviously not the final answer because it produces its own waste -- but you have a choice. There's no free lunch. If you want an industrial economy, you need energy. If you want energy, it will produce pollution. You can have it in two forms. You can have it dissipated in the atmosphere -- like carbon dioxide -- which then you cannot recover, or you can have the waste concentrated in one small space like nuclear. That is far easier to deal with. The idea that you can be able to create renewable energy at a price anywhere near the current price for oil or gas or coal is a fantasy."