May 24, 2023

Will Fusion Power Secure Our Energy Future?

While the de-carbonization of energy resources has mostly focused on wind and solar—there's another carbon-free alternative that is much more reliable: nuclear energy. In fact, traditional nuclear power fission reactors still produce almost 20% of all the electricity in the United States. And, a recent Gallup survey showed that 55% of Americans support the use of nuclear to generate electricity. So, what's the problem? Many critics point to safety concerns surrounding nuclear fission—not the least of which is the storage of nuclear waste material.

Enter, nuclear fusion. Fusion power combines atomic nuclei—rather than splitting them as fission does. The process produces far less radiation and almost no high-level nuclear waste. Oh, did we mention it's incredibly cheap? The problem with fusion has always been that it's "pie-in-the-sky". This was best explained by The Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Hiller, who paraphrased basketball scout Fran Fraschilla, characterizing fusion as "a couple years away from being a couple years away".

Ah, but is it so far off? Recently, two entities entered into an agreement that suggests the limitless potential of fusion power may be right around the corner. Microsoft has signed the first commercial agreement for fusion power with startup Helion Energy (headed by AI guru Sam Altman). The deal would deliver at least 50 megawatts of fusion power to Microsoft facilities by the year 2028. That's less than five years from now

If this commercial venture works, the world could see an energy revolution like nothing that's come before: a limitless supply of cheap, reliable, safe, carbon-free energy.

May 8, 2023

The Quality Of Life For Future Generations

On April 28th, I was privileged to speak at an event in Leicester, England at De Montfort University. The topic of the discussion was "The Challenge of The Future: The Quality of Life for Coming Generations".  Also speaking with me was UK political commentator and activist Femi Oluwole

My remarks pointed out that America's youth are troubled by an array of issues that they see clouding their future quality of life. These issues range from fear of climate catastrophe to concerns over the impact of artificial intelligence to daunting levels of personal and public debt.

For example, fully 7 in 10 young Americans (aged 16-25) are worried about the climate; a majority think artificial intelligence will lead to fewer jobs; and just 10% of Americans under 45 think Social Security and Medicare will be there for them when they retire. 

These sources of anxiety are exacerbated by the serious political and social divisions in the United States. There is very little "middle ground" in America today—and the extremes are locked into their respective media silos. These divisions are not conducive to compromise or consensus or optimism. This has predictably led to a plummeting faith in America's institutions. 

Thus, America's youth are caught in a web of uncertainty about their future. They are burdened by what they see as the stark realities of the present. But these coming generations are also more politically and socially active than their predecessors. Perhaps facing these challenges will allow them to create a future with the potential for more optimism.