No matter how many years go by since the 1940s, we have all remained somewhat apprehensive about the stability of nuclear energy, and sadly this fear has only been fueled by a few catastrophic events that have occurred: Chernobyl (1986), 3 Mile Island (1987), and Fukushima (2011), but these events did not result in the death of anywhere near as many people who have died in coal and oil related disasters. However, it's still important to know the pros and cons of nuclear energy so you can better understand why it's so desirable despite the dangers associated with it.
The world's demand for more energy only continues to grow and we have to find the technology that will rise to the occasion. However, we would ideally do so in the best interest of our environment. Despite our unpleasant run-ins with nuclear power, it is one of the most environmentally friendly sources of power and it is in our best interest as a growing population to find alternative sources of power that don’t harm our planet. This article will compare some relevant pros and cons of nuclear energy as an alternative source of power.
WHAT IS NUCLEAR ENERGY?
Nuclear energy is the product of a phenomenon called Nuclear Fission. Fission occurs when splitting the atom of a nucleus. Because of this occurrence, it releases a large amount of energy. Despite the fear and anxiety still left by nuclear energy it is understandable that people are hesitant to accept it as anything but destruction.
The reason it is still being considered as an alternative source to fossil fuels, is ultimately that the process results in far less damage to the environment overall in comparison. There are many pros and cons of nuclear energy, what it can do, and how it compares to other forms of generating power. But this article will not be expanding on the scientific attributes of this form of energy and its production process.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
Nuclear energy produces around 10% of the world's power and we could produce several times that amount of nuclear energy at will. It is the cleanest form of energy we know of at present, and it offers much lower emissions including carbon dioxide. In addition, it takes a rather small amount of uranium to output a massive amount of power and the average nuclear reactor lasts around 40 to 60 years, but the lifetime of a nuclear reactor is contingent on the how much power it is intended to produce and the quality of its function. Let's move on to the pros and cons of nuclear energy for this article.
Pros of Nuclear Energy
Listed below are some positive attributes of nuclear energy and what it offers in terms of clean energy, reliability, quality, and cost.
In no capacity does nuclear energy production burn chemicals in the process of producing nuclear energy, so there is no release of harsh gases into the air. In fact, the fluffy clouds that are given off by the stacks of a nuclear plant is only vaporized water. Those "stacks" are large cooling towers filled with water intended for keeping the nuclear reactor(s) from overheating. For the sake of this brief on the pros and cons of nuclear energy, we will also come back to this in our cons list. Nuclear energy is still the most environmentally friendly form of alternative fuel and electricity.
More Reliable than Other Forms of Clean Energy
Solar and Wind energy both rely on weather to produce power. Not to say it is impractical, but to produce large amounts of power constantly it is not exactly ideal. A nuclear power plant can run constantly, uninterrupted, making power for up to about a year. It also maintains a shelf life once produced and can even be stored for much longer than fossil fuels. Nuclear power also does not require the use of any kind of fossil fuels to be produced. Therefore, it is unaffected by the uncontrollably fluctuating costs of gas and oil.
More Electricity for Less Money
Although building new plants can be costly at first, there is a discussion of upgrading existing plants to improve volume instead of building entirely new ones. Regardless, once they are running smoothly, they are inexpensive. That is without mentioning the amount of power they produce will minimal resource. These plants produce electricity with nuclear reactors which is cheaper than coal, gas, or any other fossil fuels.
Uranium is also much cheaper than one would expect, but this does not additionally calculate the cost and expenses of the hauling and safe disposal of various kinds of radioactive material. There is no particular procedure for the disposal of the radioactive material nuclear fission creates as a byproduct.
Cons of Nuclear Energy
Listed below are some negative attributes of nuclear energy and how it affects the environment, weaponry and warfare, disaster, and radioactive filth.
The Nuclear Elephant in the Room
This is one quality other sources of fuel do not deal with. This point of Nuclear Power production evokes thoughts of the 1970s through the 1980s when plants were dumping their waste into the ocean and other bodies of water. None of those things take place in our modern world and there are now laws in place to protect against illegal dumping of toxic waste.
Use of Nuclear Energy as a Weapon
Nuclear power generation is far from the process of making nuclear weapons, but it poses a threat if exposed to the wrong person or group. In the wrong hands this technology can cause the entire world a whole mess of trouble. Recalling Hiroshima, imagine the potential of that on a worldwide scale. Well, that's what people imagine when they think of "weapons of mass destruction," but those with access to this technology are known and monitored. Interest in this kind of power grows every day, especially as the possibilities evolve from science and energy to weaponry.
Non-Renewable Radioactive Fuel
Uranium can not be re-used, therefore nuclear energy is not a renewable source. But there has been a discussion of the other possibilities uranium may offer to convert it into energy. If not handled properly, even the designated drops of waste can end catastrophically. It quickly contaminates its surroundings and spreads as it ages. Nuclear disasters like the accident at Chernobyl in 1986, leave the environment surrounding the plants uninhabitable by human life. The high levels of radiation have been unsafe for several years and it likely won’t change anytime soon. The damage left behind both in the people and places is still overwhelming to this day.
We hope this article has helped you better understand the pros and cons of nuclear energy, and here we offer our final thoughts.
Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy Compared
Good arguments can be made for both the pros and cons of nuclear energy as an alternative source of power. Although it has so many safe benefits, the negative results are dangerous and not so for the human death toll, but the environmental impact. But when you consider the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that fill our atmosphere, coal, oil fires and accidents happen more often than someone it hurt in a nuclear power workplace environment.
The nuclear industry is firm with their safety in the workplace, and catastrophic incidents are rare, but when an accident can be as devastating as a nuclear meltdown, it causes the public to worry. The shocks of the past remain at the forefront of the public's’ mind and it immediately turns them off to anything related to nuclear energy.
Don't Give into Fear
Despite the negative impacts, overall nuclear energy is technically the least threatening of all forms of energy. With every other fossil fuel dissolving our atmosphere, nuclear energy may be the only way to dismiss the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the production of nuclear energy, but if we were to fully explore the benefits of having nuclear energy, we would need to create a plan to manage the disposal of used fuel.
Until then no one will truly be ready to trust in any kind of casual use of nuclear power, we desperately need as I world continues to grow. Perhaps finding more ways to combat this issue would evolve as we further experiment within the parameters we have at present, but as much as some may not want to admit it, we are getting close to the point of needing to put the wheels of large-scale nuclear fission in motion.