Genetic engineering and nuclear power

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Stewart Brand, fervent environmentalist, outlines his view of the future in this 16 minute TED Talk. He advocates genetic engineering of crops and the installation of micro-nuclear reactors – both controversial, but potentially powerful solutions to our problems.

With genetic engineering, you require much less pesticides and herbicides and the soil can retain more of it’s nutrients. The impacts of these foods are not proven to be dangerous or safe, yet. But opposing them simply on the basis that they are different and “scary” seems unwise. See the talk for more details.

Micro-nuclear reactors are closed systems that contain the fissile material, reactor, cooling systems and other components. They are delivered by flat-bed trucks, you dig a hole, drop it in, and plug it into your grid. You’ve got power for a town for 50 years. Afterwards, the reactor is picked up and disposed of safely. Most of the fissile materials is reclaimed nuclear warheads, so you are actually burning waste. With the new US-Russia disarmament treaty signed last week, there will be even more material available to burn in these micro-reactors.

Though not your typical “green” solutions, these ideas are gaining more and more support in the scientific community as solutions to food, energy and climate issues. Promising stuff.