The Nuclear Power Debate Essay Research Paper

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The Nuclear Power Debate Essay, Research Paper The Nuclear Power Debate In 1953, nuclear energy was introduced into America as a cheap and efficient energy source, favoured in place of increasingly scarce fossil fuels which caused air pollution. Its initial use was welcomed by the general public, as it was hoped to lower the price of electricity, and utilise nuclear power for it’s potential as a resource, not a weapon. However, as people became aware of the long term dangers involved in storing nuclear waste, it’s use was criticised. Two accidents, at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, demonstrated to the world the enormous risks involved in producing nuclear power. Nuclear power provides 17% of the world’s electricity but coal is the main source, making up 39%. However,

fossil fuels such as coal, require greater quantities to produce the equivalent amount of electricity produced from Uranium. The use of nuclear power opposed to burning fossil fuels has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 2 billion tonnes per year, minimising the global warming effect on the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is responsible for half of man made gases contributing to the Greenhouse Effect, and has sparked action from the UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change. Their consensus is a concern for the environment in the next century if fossil fuels continue to be used, even at present global levels. The Panel claims that for carbon dioxide to be stabilised to safe levels, a 50-80% reduction in all emissions would be required. The United Nations has predicted a world

population growth from 5.5 billion to 8.5 billion by the year 2025, meaning demand for energy will increase. Nuclear power is the only practical source, in consideration for the environment, cost and efficiency. Coal-fired generation of electricity would increase carbon dioxide emissions, and renewable sources such as solar and hydro, are not suitable for large scale power generation. Nuclear power is not without its own implications. The process includes disposing of radioactive waste, which poses a threat to the environment and the world if not contained properly and temporarily disposed of with maximum security. In the thesis, “Nuclear power: an energy future we can’t afford”, by Peter Kelly from Hamilton College, he wrote, “…we’d still have to worry about

terrorists making bombs out of nuclear waste. Just five pounds of plutonium, a component of nuclear waste, is enough to make a nuclear bomb. Such a bomb could topple the World Trade Centre and kill hundreds of thousands of people…Terrorists may be able to recruit disgruntled scientists…” Disposing of nuclear waste is extremely controversial, because it takes thousands of years to decompose, and the radiation remains active. Other than the environmental effects of disposing nuclear waste, the potential of radioactive fallout from a faulty reactor is a dangerous possibility, and the events following the accident at Chernobyl demonstrated the long term destructiveness radiation is capable of. In 1986 at Chernobyl, an unauthorised experiment conducted with the cooling system

turned off, lead to the explosion of one of the reactors. The radioactive fallout spread through the atmosphere, reaching into northern Europe and Great Britain. The Soviets claim 31 people died directly from the accident, while deaths due to radiation are yet to be determined. Radiation sometimes causes genetic mutations in the child whose parents were exposed to radiation. A few years ago on the television program ?60 Minutes’, they presented a story on the after effects of the Chernobyl accident. They revealed horrific shots of mutated embryos preserved in jars, the most disturbing, an embryo named ?Cyclops’, because it only had one eye. While nuclear power is more efficient and environmentally safer in terms of global warming than fossil fuels, it has a destructive