Atomic Power, an Economic and Social Analysis: A Study in Industrial Location and Regional Economic Development

Atomic Power, an Economic and Social Analysis: A Study in Industrial Location and Regional Economic Development

Atomic Power, an Economic and Social Analysis: A Study in Industrial Location and Regional Economic Development

Atomic Power, an Economic and Social Analysis: A Study in Industrial Location and Regional Economic Development

Excerpt

Because its potential consequences are so near us all, the atom is an uneasily held piece of public property. The reverberations of the first atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, have rocked the world. Subsequent stories of atomic research have been punctuated by tests, presumably of atomic weapons, which have not allowed the idea of the atom to retire to the seclusion of the scientists' laboratory. In short, the atom, and conceptions of its uses which are both sensible and fantastic, are with us "late and soon."

The technical aspects of atomic development have been soberly presented in an increasing number of books, research monographs, and even popular articles. The political aspects have in no way been lost sight of as a focus of study. In contrast, the economic and social aspects of atomic development have been generally neglected. This is no doubt in part because of the real difficulty of predicting the possible impact of such a development as atomic power on economic activity and social structure; and especially, because of the necessity for acquiring a wide range of technical knowledge of atomic and industrial processes and of social conditions as a basis for an adequate analysis.

Since the end of World War II scientists, administrators, and other students of atomic problems have been viewing the heralded benefits of atomic power with increasing pessimism. This appears to be a function of a growing understanding of the complexity of the difficulties which beset both the development and the utilization of atomic power.

One of the major areas of complexity, in which so far there has been only failure, is that of international atomic control. Perhaps people looking back a hundred years from now will point to this as the major problem of the mid-twentieth century. At any rate, they are apt to see more clearly than we can do today the real degree of complexity of the international control problem and the difficulties in assimilating the innovation of atomic power without such control.

In our judgment, they are likely too to point to a lack of appreciation of the complexity of the control issue as an important cause of the initial failure of control plans. Certainly, it is all too apparent today that we suf-

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