APL Colloquium

January 23, 2015

Colloquium Topic: Anticipating Climate Change Mitigation

There are good reasons to believe that the reliably known determinants of the global warming process will eventually force a much more serious global commitment to achieving mitigation than is currently apparent. As that imperative is recognized and credible responses devised, it will become obvious that any aspiration to hold atmospheric GHG concentration below the level of 500 ppm CO2 equivalent will require a disproportionate expansion of nuclear power generation. Given the realistic potential of all of the other options, including efficiency gains, nuclear power generation will have to provide at least one-third of the 500 EJ/y primary energy production from non-carbon emitting sources required by 2050

It will also be obvious that expansion on that scale cannot be based on current LWR designs and current fuel cycle supply arrangements. The reactors are too susceptible to catastrophic failure and fuel cycle services are too vulnerable to illicit penetration for the risks associated with expansion to be tolerated. Fortunately there are small modular reactor designs that could be given features that substantially diminish both risks, but none of these will undergo full prototype development under current market conditions. A public investment program, costing on the order of $10 billion over 10 years, will be required. Even more challenging, globally representative international consortia will have to be formed to develop and manufacture the reactors and to establish higher standards of accounting and physical security for the production and use of fissionable nuclear isotopes.

Colloquium Speaker: John Steinbruner

John D. Steinbruner is Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and Director of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM). His work has focused on issues of international security and related problems of international policy.

Steinbruner was Director of the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution from 1978-1996.  Prior to joining Brookings, he was an Associate Professor in the School of Organization and Management and in the Department of Political Science at Yale University from 1976 to 1978.  From 1973 to 1976, he served as Associate Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he also was Assistant Director of the Program for Science and International Affairs. He was Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard from 1969 to 1973 and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1968 to 1969.

Steinbruner has authored and edited a number of professional books and monographs, including: The Cybernetic Theory of Decision:  New Dimensions of Political Analysis (Princeton University Press, originally published 1974, second paperback edition with new preface, 2002); Principles of Global Security (Brookings Institution Press, 2000); A New Concept of Cooperative Security, co-authored with Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry (Brookings Occasional Papers, 1992). His articles have appeared in Arms Control Today, The Brookings Review, Dædalus, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Security , Scientific American, Washington Quarterly and other journals.

In addition he has also published a novel, The Secular Monastery, that presents fundamental issues of security in the form of a fictional story.  

Steinbruner is currently Co-Chair of the Committee on International Security Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Chairman of the Board of the Arms Control Association, board member of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. From 1981 to 2004 he was a member of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences, serving as Vice Chair from 1996 to 2004. He was a member of the Defense Policy Board of the Department of Defense from 1993 to 1997. In 2010 he chaired the Committee on Deterring Cyberattacks of the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council. From 2011 to 2012 he chaired the Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Social and Political Stresses of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. 

Born in 1941 in Denver, Colorado, Steinbruner received his A.B. from Stanford University in 1963, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968.