Is it zero? I don’t think so. I believe that it is important to keep our options open. The NY Times reports about a new nuclear plant being built in Georgia and highlights that this is a rare event. This story raises an important human capital point. Suppose you are a young engineer at UCLA, MIT or Stanford. Are you going to specialize in nuclear engineering if you don’t expect that new plants will be built? The answer is “no” but then a death spiral takes place. If few of the top young students enter this field, then does technological advance in this field slow down? Yes! and then does the probability of another nuclear disaster increase? Yes! We end up with an aging nuclear capital stock and little “new blood” entering the field. This intersection between human capital and the allocation of talent across fields in helping society to mitigate environmental externalities is an under-studied topic.
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