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Nuclear Power As A Viable Source For Future Energy

2087 words - 9 pages

From nuclear waste to nuclear meltdowns to nuclear weapons, the energy has long received controversy over its utilization as a power source (Davis 50). However, with a plethora of nations desiring a 60 percent decrease in carbon emissions by 2050, nuclear energy has arisen as a viable alternative power source (Fells 737) As climate change disrupts weather patterns and ocean levels from these carbon emissions, the argument has strenghtened for exploiting the benefits nuclear power (Fells 739). Some, though, condemn nuclear power plants as unsafe after the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima incidents (Visschers and Siegrist 333-334). Additionally, high production costs are associated with nuclear energy, leading it to gain a costly reputation (Davis 53). Nuclear energy, ultimately, is a viable source of energy due to its current strong safety regulation and notable efficiency (Lehr 98; Rogner 140; Visschers and Siegrist 336)
Fortunately, the world uses nuclear energy today because of Enrico Fermi, who first emerged with the brilliant idea of utilizing nuclear power as an energy source during his time at the University of Chicago in 1942 (Davis 63). Through fission, the splitting of a Uranium 235 atom, vast quanitites of energy are unleashed. By conducting the fission underwater, it allows the enormous amounts of energy to convert the water into steam, thereby spinning a turbine. This turbine will subsequently generate power in homes across nations (Lehr 97). Today, this technology accounts for the largest electricity provider in the European Union at 32 percent, edging out fossil fuel coal at 30 percent (Fells 737). However, the technology for nuclear power is not perfected, with several notable incidents occurring in its existence (Davis 63). Fukushima Power Plant lies as a perfect example of a power plant where costs have outweighed any benefits. On March 11, 2011 marked a tsunami that tore through the plants and severely damaged the cooling systems. Consquently, radioactive particles contaminated the area resulting in immediate evacuation and expensive repair (Visschers and Siegrist 333). Similar accidents occurred at the well known 1986 meltdown in Chernobyl and 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island, and they each have left many people rallying against nuclear power, hindering its development (Lehr 98; Visschers and Siegrist 334) These detractors simply do not see the prosperity that could be gained from Enrico Fermi's innovation (Davis 63).
The fact is, nuclear power remains a very credible source of energy; nuclear energy, when generated properly, utilizes unbelievably safe methods to create power. For example, US citizens differentiate to fear the prospects of nuclear weapons more than they do any nuclear power plants (Whittfield 431). The incident at Three Mile Island posed no threat to humans when the incident occurred, but citizens sensationalized the meltdown. After human error resulted in equipment malfunctions, a meltdown...

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