During the twentieth century the two technologies that had the greatest impact on the economies of the world and the environment were the automobile and the development of nuclear power. It is the development and use of nuclear power that is of interest here, and how it may yet fulfill its earlier promise of clean, cheap, safe power for the worlds growing population. .
As we awaken in the early days of the 21st century, the world population is an estimated six billion people. That number is expected to double by the end of this century. With this increase in the global population, there will be an increased demand on the fossil fuel resource of the world, and an increased demand, put on the environment as the emissions from their use continue to build. It has become necessary to look for and develop alternative sources of power. Although, technology such as solar power and the fuel cell look promising, much work remains to be done before they will be a feasible option. I have no doubt, that these and others will play an important role in helping to relieve some of the energy requirements of the future, but they will only be part of the tool kit that societies around the world will have to answer their energy needs.
Looking back on the middle part of the 20th century, the development of nuclear power was heralded as the power source of the new era, clean, cheap, and safe. This belief was no sooner publicized and the building of nuclear power plants began, "today more than 431 commercial nuclear reactors generate 16 percent of the world's electricity."(Spun, 2002) Yet despite this bright promise, serious problems lay ahead for the new technology. It's original development that of a weapon of mass destruction, and its subsequent use on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately bringing an end to the second world war. Then followed by the nuclear arms race between the two supper powers, and the cold war, caused some to have serious doubts about the wisdom of further development of nuclear power.