Richard L. Garwin

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Richard L. Garwin is the Former Chair of the Department of State's Arms Control and Non-proliferation Advisory Board, a Member of the Defense Science Board of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and a member of the Rumsfeld Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States.

Garwin is a member of the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists. A biographical note states that Garwin "has done a wide range of research in fundamental and applied physics. He was involved with the development of the first thermonuclear weapons and the first photo-intelligence satellites and is a leading expert on many arms control matters. He has served on the President's Scientific Advisory Committee, the Defense Science Board, and, most recently, on the Rumsfeld Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. He is also Fellow Emeritus at IBM, where he was on the scientific staff for the bulk of his career, and is now the Philip D. Reed Senior Fellow for Science and Technology at the Council on Foreign Relations." [1]

On the Future of Nuclear Power

In an April 9, 2001 speech for the Nuclear Control Institute, titled "Can the World Do Without Nuclear Power? Can the World Live With Nuclear Power?", Garwin states "In round numbers, nuclear power supplies about 20% of the electrical energy used in the world. Producing electrical energy accounts for about one-third of the world's primary energy consumption, and despite the belief that developed societies can manage with less energy per capita than now, about a doubling of the energy consumption worldwide is generally believed to be desirable to achieve an acceptable standard of living. Despite the fact that much of the world's consumption of energy is not sufficiently concentrated for nuclear power, multiplying these numbers indicates that the present world population of 300 equivalent 1-GWe reactors would need to grow to some 9,000 (or a fraction thereof) if nuclear power were to supply all (or a fraction) of the world's future energy needs."[4]

His recommendations "for the future of nuclear power were:

  • To prepare authorized competitive, commercial, mined geologic repositories.
  • To reinforce and further increase support to the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council to provide not only an accounting function but a protective function to safeguard nuclear reactors and the nuclear fuel cycle. Internalize costs.
  • To provide honest evaluations of accident probabilities and risks, in order to evaluate nuclear power and to reduce accident hazards.
  • To recognize the benefits of nuclear power in comparison with the 40-100 times larger contribution to global warming per unit of electrical energy produced from fossil fuel without CO2 sequestration.
  • For governments to spend good money now to determine and reduce the cost of acquiring uranium from seawater, in order to guide future nuclear power and energy decisions.[4]

In conclusion, he returned to the questions he posed in the title of his paper. "Can the world so without nuclear power? Yes, with carbon sequestration until coal is largely exhausted. Can the world live with nuclear power? Yes, if the risks and benefits are honestly acknowledged and organizational and financial resources committed to ensure against catastrophic accidents and nuclear weapons proliferation from the nuclear power system. In a word, my judgment is an emphatic and unequivocal "maybe"." [4]


  • Richard L. Garwin and Georges Charpak, Megawatts and Megatons: The Future of Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons, University Of Chicago Press, December 2002. ISBN 0226284271 ISBN 978-0226284279.

Resources and articles


  1. Union of Concerned Scientists, "About UCS", UCS, accessed August 3, 2007.
  2. People, Belfer Center, accessed November 18, 2008.
  3. Directors, Federation of American Scientists, accessed September 1, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Can the World Do Without Nuclear Power? Can the World Live With Nuclear Power?", Federation of American Scientists, April 9, 2001.