The nuclear option

We spent most of our time in Phnom Penh with the development community, including the extremely sharp and friendly people at the World Bank. There we discussed Cambodia's dire electricity needs--only about 10-15% of the population is connected to the grid.

Despite being a country of rivers, Cambodia is too flat to have a lot of good unexploited hydro. There are rumors about oil and natural gas, but they're still in the "fond hope" stage. How will Cambodia develop adequate electricity supplies? Coal is certainly on the table; they don't have their own deposits, but it's cheap to import from neighbors.

Why not nuclear? We asked. The World Bank doesn't support nuclear, though it's not clear why. Geopolitically, of course, there are proliferation concerns, and questions about whether developing countries can safely manage a nuclear plant. On the other side of the ledger, however, is the fact that without nuclear, all these developing countries are going to be dumping a gigantic load of carbon into the atmosphere. Shouldn't we at least be thinking hard about safer reactors for the developing world?

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Business

Just In