What Happens Next as the World Turns Away From Nuclear Power? A Freakonomics Quorum

A few years ago, we wrote a column (related material here) about the unintended consequences of Jane Fonda -- that is, how anti-nuclear-power activism as epitomized by Fonda's character in the nuclear thriller The China Syndrome helped halt the growth of nuclear power in the U.S. The timing of the film couldn't have been better: 12 days after its release, an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania spooked the nation into Fonda's arms -- even though, in retrospect, that accident was far less serious than initially thought.

Many other countries, in the meantime, embraced nuclear power. But if you thought the China Syndrome/Three Mile Island combo was devastating to a nuclear future, consider the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. On May 11, Japan announced that it was shelving plans to scale up its nuclear energy capacity. Two weeks later, Germany announced plans to end all nuclear power generation by 2022. The Swiss have vowed to end nuclear power by 2034; and the Italians voted down plans to restart the country's nuclear power program.

What Are the Economic Consequences of the Japanese Disaster? A Guest Post by Anil Kashyap and Takeo Hoshi

From a loss-of-life standpoint, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami may well be at least five times more severe than 9/11. While natural disasters in the past have claimed more lives, it’s extremely rare for a developed country to suffer this kind of catastrophe. While the economic losses no doubt take a distant back seat to the human suffering, nonetheless there are many important economic questions to be answered. I can’t think of a better pair of people to do so than Anil Kashyap and Takeo Hoshi.

Japan's Nuclear Worry Produces, Among Other Reactions, a Salt-Buying Panic in China

The Three Mile Island nuclear-power accident in 1979 coincided almost perfectly with the release of The China Syndrome, a Hollywood film about a nuclear meltdown. As we once wrote, this pairing helped gel American sentiment against nuclear power. Several other nations, meanwhile, kept on building nuclear-power plants, Japan among the leaders. Now, how will the […]

Would a New Class of Nuclear Reactors Have Withstood the Tsunami?

As dangerous levels of radiation thwart emergency work at Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Japanese military fire trucks have reportedly resorted to spraying spent fuel rods with water in an effort to cool them.

Do Japanese ATMs Price Discriminate?

Do ATMs in Japan price discriminate on evenings and weekends? Or are you paying extra to ensure that there's cash in the machine?