(p. D8) Start with a novelist and former New Yorker magazine fiction editor living on the East End of Long Island, a sometime antinuclear activist (remember Shoreham?) and a determined organic vegetable gardener who spent her childhood in 1950s New Mexico having atom-bomb nightmares. Team her with another lifelong greenie, a man with a doctorate in organic chemistry who grew up on an Idaho ranch without electricity and whose day job, over the course of a long career, has included pioneering something called probabilistic risk assessment (the underpinnings of climate-change analysis, but that’s another story). Send the pair off on a grand tour of the nuclear-power world, from dust-blown uranium mines to the depths of a pilot facility for Uncle Sam’s waste deposit at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. And then wait for them to come back with the predictable diatribe against nuclear power.
Happily, you’ll wait in vain. “Power to Save the World” is a picaresque, flat-out love song to the bad boy of the great American energy debate — as good a book as we’re likely to get on a subject mired in political incorrectness, general unfathomability and essentially limitless gut fears. It’s also the latest plot point for one of the few unassailably positive byproducts of global-warming mania: the quiet emergence of pro-nuke greens, led by such impeccable apostates as Whole Earth founder Stewart Brand and James Lovelock, the British chemist best known for his Earth-is-a-living-organism “Gaia ypothesis.”