The World Needs More Nuclear Power

1082 words - 4 pages

Opponents of the nuclear industry conjure up frightful images of nuclear accidents to spread terror to those who could benefit from its awesome bounty. A misguided desire to protect the environment blinds people to the reality that nuclear power is a "green" energy source. Nuclear power is superior to traditional power generation in almost every way whether it is looked at from an environmental, economic or technical point of view.
Currently, most consumer power generation is achieved through the burning of fossil fuels. Skeptics of nuclear energy’s potential have long contended that fossil fuels are safer to process, are better for the environment and pose less of a long term hazard than nuclear power. Concerns over safety also dominate the issue since the often lamented invention of nuclear weapons has demonstrated that the awesome force of nuclear power can be dangerous indeed. Nuclear power is also tagged as being expensive, not only for power generation but for the environmental detriments that must be mitigated after processing. None of these arguments against nuclear power has any real factual basis as research has shown that nuclear power has less of a negative impact on the environment, has the potential to be safer and ultimately cheaper than traditional power generating methods.
The mainstays of traditional power generation involve the burning of fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal. Environmentalists use scare tactics to try to convince people that nuclear power is a dirty energy. The truth however, is that as far as damage to the environment goes, nuclear power is a much greener source of energy than either coal or natural gas. The first advantage of nuclear power over coal or natural gas is obvious; nuclear power does not produce carbon emissions. Whereas coal and natural gas produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct of power generation, nuclear power does not use combustion to generate its power. This gives nuclear power a much smaller carbon footprint than its traditional counterparts. The second advantage is that nuclear power plants have less emitted radiation than traditional power plants. This is somewhat of a surprise as nuclear energy is based on radioactive materials. The answer to this conundrum is the ability to contain the radiation. Nuclear power plants are heavily shielded and often built underground to keep the surrounding environment from being exposed to excess radiation. Traditional power plants emit 0.03 millirem per year as opposed to nuclear power plants emitting 0.009 millirem per year (McGregor, para 13). These two advantages combine to make nuclear power a much more environmentally attractive alternative to coal and natural gas.
Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are two bloody shirts that opponents to nuclear power have waved in their arguments against its proliferation. Chernobyl was a nuclear disaster in Russia that exposed the surrounding area to a severe amount of radioactive...

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