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Choices and Challenges forum to address nuclear power issue

Blacksburg, Va. -- Choices and Challenges, an annual forum at Virginia Tech with a reputation for tackling controversial issues, will continue the trend with the literally heated and topical subject of "Nuclear Power Reconsidered."

This day-long series of panels and discussions will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Lyric Theater in downtown Blacksburg and at Virginia Techs Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown. This forum is open to the public at no charge.

After decades of being regarded as too expensive, too dangerous, or (in terms of generated waste) too unmanageable, nuclear energy appears to be making a resurgence as a green technology, said Eileen Crist, associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society, and one of the coordinators of the forum. The backdrop to its potential comeback is climate change: increasingly regarded as a threat to people, nature, and perhaps even civilization, climate change is prompting many analysts, from all political walks of life, to advocate non-carbon emitting energy technologies.

The Choices and Challenges forum provides an occasion for public discussion of scientific, technological, ethical, ecological, and policy issues surrounding this topic, said Daniel Breslau, another coordinator and associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society. The forums main panel will feature a range of recognized authorities on various aspects of nuclear power, and will address these dimensions.

The main panel discussion will take place at 11a.m. at the Lyric. Martin Ogle, chief naturalist for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority since 1985, will moderate a panel consisting of:

  • Donald Aitken, internationally known as an expert on renewable energy, basing his work on a clear understanding of Earths living system;

  • Timothy Foresman, the GIS manager for Clark County, Nev., during the late 1980s when the Department of Energy was working on the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository site plans in Clark County;

  • Kenneth Rogers, who served as commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 10 years; and

  • Langdon Winner, a theorist who focuses upon social and political issues that surround modern technological change.

A series of background and follow-up sessions, at the Graduate Life Center, beginning at 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (respectively), will fill in with up-to-date materials and allow for audience participation. Session topics include the evolution of nuclear energy, its role for the future, security and sustainability, environmental ethics, and perceptions of risk.

In conjunction with the Choices and Challenges Forum, there will be a performance piece on climate change. The piece will be performed Nov. 7 and 8 at Haymarket Theatre in Squires Student Center at 7:30 p.m. Workshop performances will be held on Friday, Nov. 9 (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday, Nov. 11 (2:30 p.m.) in Room F of the Graduate Life Center.


Contact: Jean Elliott
Virginia Tech

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