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Nuclear Energy And The Environment Essay

2031 words - 8 pages

In our society, nuclear energy has become one of the most criticized formsof energy by the environmentalists. Thus, a look at nuclear energy and theenvironment and its impact on economic growth.Lewis Munford, an analyst, once wrote, "Too much energy is as fatal as toolittle, hence the regulation of energy input and output not its unlimitedexpansion, is in fact one of the main laws of life." This is true when dealingwith nuclear power. Because our societies structure and processes both dependupon energy, man is searching for the most efficient and cheapest form of energythat can be used on a long term basis. And because we equate power with growth,the more energy that a country uses, - the greater their expected economicgrowth. The problem is that energy is considered to have two facets or parts:it is a major source of man-made repercussions as well as being the basis oflife support systems. Therefore, we are between two sections in which one is thesection of "resource availability and waste", and the other "the continuity oflife support systems pertinent to survival."Thus, the environmentalists believe that nuclear energy should not be usedfor various reasons. First of all, the waste product, i.e. plutonium, isextremely radioactive, which may cause the people who are working or living inor around the area of storage or use, to acquire leukemia and other cancers.They also show how billions of dollars are spent yearly on safety devices for asingle reactor, and this still doesn't ensure the impossibility of a "meltdown." Two examples were then given of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, in 1979,when thousands of people were killed and incapacitated. Finally, theenvironmentalists claim that if society wastes less energy, and develops themeans to use the energy more efficiency, then there would be a definite decreasein the requirement for more energy producing plants.On the other hand, some business men and economists say that the presentconditions should be kept intact, as the other forms of energy, e.g. oil,natural gas and coal, are only temporary, in dealing with surplus, and give offmore pollution with less economic growth. Concurrently, countries wanted a morereliable, smokeless form of energy not controlled by OPEC, and very littleuranium was required to produce such a high amount of resultant energy. Lastly,they said that renewable energy is (a) unreliable in that the wind, for example,could not be depended upon to blow, nor the sun to shine, and (b) wereintermittent in that a 1,000 mega-watt solar farm may occupy about 5,000 acresof land, compared with less than 150 acres of land for a similar capacitynuclear power generation station.Because the energy technology that society employs directly influences thequantity and quality of life, the energy option that is chosen should have thegreatest cost- benefit effectiveness as well as maximizing flexibility andpurchases. However, those who believe in continuous energy consumption growth,seem to...

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