The lecture begins a discussion of present and future energy demands and the ways in which we invest in different forms of energy by focusing on nuclear energy use globally. The risks associated with nuclear energy are described, including risk of human error leading to a mass evacuation event, and the challenges faced in finding an adequate nuclear waste storage facility for the United States. Such a facility would be need to be able to store nuclear waste for a million years or more, due to the long half-lives of nuclear waste. The lecture describes the disaster that took place at Chernobyl nuclear plant, and the wide-ranging effects of that disaster on the natural and built environments as well as human health.
Can law change human behavior to be less environmentally damaging? Law will be examined through case histories including: environmental effects of national security, pesticides, air pollution, consumer products, plastics, parks and protected area management, land use, urban growth and sprawl, public/private transit, drinking water standards, food safety, and hazardous site restoration. In each case we will review the structure of law and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.