So what would an alternative policy actually look like?
The first thing to do, experts say, is to actually take the threat of preventive force off the table and admit that North Korea's nukes are a reality that the US will have to live with, at least for the foreseeable future. After that, there are several concrete steps Washington could take to reduce the threat those weapons actually pose.
One idea is to take a page from the Cold War playbook.
The US and Soviet Union faced a number of situations — most notably the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis — where one side had reason to believe the other was preparing for a nuclear first strike. The most important reason these crises didn't escalate is that the US and Soviet Union had a lot of different ways to communicate and reassure each other that they weren't about to attack.
The most famous example is the Moscow-Washington hotline, often (inaccurately) called the red phone: A messaging system that allowed the American president and Soviet premier to communicate with each other directly.
The US doesn't have anything like that with North Korea right now. There is currently only one publicly known channel of communication between the US and the North: through North Korea's UN office in New York. That's it. Which means that in the event of a crisis, it would be hard for the two sides to communicate to each other that they aren't about to launch a nuclear strike.
The US should "focus on miscalculation and unintended escalation — almost like a hotline approach," says Reif. "This was part of the approach during the Cold War, and absolutely needs to be part of the approach now."
Another complimentary idea is to keep talking with North Korea about its nuclear program — but with the aim of freezing it rather than eliminating it entirely.
Reif and others think North Korea might be willing to agree to stop building more missiles and bombs, as well as testing what it already has, in exchange for some kind of trade (like limited sanctions relief). This would limit the damage North Korea's nuclear arsenal could theoretically do, particularly by constraining its ability to strike the US mainland.
These kinds of negotiations and communication are technically and politically feasible. North Korea has, in the past, shown real interest in direct negotiations with the United States. The biggest barrier is the US's reluctance to focus talks on anything other than denuclearization.
"This is one of those areas where we should be able to have negotiation because 1) we don't want a nuclear war, and 2) North Korea shares that interest," Lewis says. "Abandonment of denuclearization as a near-term goal [would allow the US] to talk to them about stability, about crisis coordination."
Third and finally, the US needs to make it crystal clear to the North Koreans that any attack on South Korea or Japan would be met with force. The best way to do this isn't loud bluster, but rather by concrete steps to coordinate with allies.
When the North stages provocations like missile tests, the US needs to respond with unmistakable shows of support — US warplanes overflying South Korea, for example, or promises to send over advanced military technology. In between incidents, the US should continue staging joint military exercises — and, more importantly, send constant reassurances through diplomatic channels that the alliance commitment is still there.
Such steps would help convince the North to avoid anything to provocative, while simultaneously convincing allies not to respond on their own in a way that could escalate the situation.
"This problem requires a serious summoning of political will and commitment of diplomatic resources," Rapp-Hooper says. "More than it even matters to fly a B-1 over the Korean peninsula at any given time, it matters to have an ambassador in Seoul and assistant secretaries of State and Defense who are constantly meeting with their counterparts and explaining to them what the United States will do to provide for their security in all manner of contingencies and how that's going to work."
Yet the Trump administration doesn't even have anyone appointed to those positions — something it could fix quickly if it so chose. (Reports suggest it plans to nominate Victor Cha, a widely respected Georgetown professor, to be ambassador to South Korea.) Another easy step to improve things here would be to stop doing things that alienate allies, like threatening to withdraw from the South Korea-US free trade agreement or calling the South Korean president an appeaser on Twitter.
What unites all of those different policy measures is a single strategic objective: preventing war on the Korean peninsula by managing the inherent tensions created by a nuclear North Korea.
That means convincing everyone in the region — North and South Korea, China, and Japan — that US intentions are purely defensive: that it has no interest whatsoever in bombing North Korea to stop its nuclear program, but would respond with overwhelming force if the North shot first. Diplomacy and deterrence, rather than economic sanctions and threats of war, would be the principal tools by which the US would handle the Kim regime from here on out.
This will require some ugly compromises — most notably, negotiations and high-level contacts with what's arguably the most evil government on earth. And there's always a risk that it goes wrong: that deterrence fails and the US gets embroiled in a horrifying war.
But that will be true as long as North Korea exists. Better to acknowledge the reality of a nuclear North Korea and plan around it openly than to stick our head in the sand. Managing North Korea's nuclear program may be a bad option, but much of the expert community is convinced that the alternatives are worse.
"There is no combination of sticks and carrots, sanctions and blah blah blah that mean North Korea is just going to cave and do exactly what we want them to do," Kang says. "We treat North Korea like it's a problem to be solved, [but] it's a country we have to live with."
Shell's Mr Wetselaar insists that, under any scenario, gas will be needed to smooth the transition. While batteries can deal with short-term fluctuations in renewable power, they cannot yet address seasonal variations.
In the UK, solar power can account for more than a fifth of electricity generation on a sunny summer day, but contribute almost nothing on a gloomy winter afternoon.
Gas has been critical to Britain's success in pushing coal to the brink of elimination from its electricity system and reducing emissions to their lowest level since the 19th century, without sacrificing energy security.
Commentary by Zack Beauchamp , a senior reporter at Vox. Follow him on Twitter @zackbeauchamp.
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