A Possibility of Usage of Nuclear Power

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 The pursuit of finding the best sustainable energy resource has been ongoing for many years. As the world consumes more energy, the search for a solution to our energy problem becomes more urgent. The world's energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is expected to grow from 6.0 joules of energy to 7.8 joules of energy in 2040. This is about a 28% surge in usage. Though fossil fuels are expected to account for 77% of the world's energy usage in 2040, other energy sources are beginning to emerge. Renewable energy is now the world's most rapidly growing energy resource with total usage increasing by 2.3% every year while nuclear energy is the second most rapidly growing resource with its total usage is increasing at a steady rate of 1.5% every year (International).From the first perspective, it could be argued that expanding the world's usage of nuclear will have more benefits than costs.

By expanding the use of nuclear energy around the world, we will be able to further diversify our energy resources, reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, and improve the economy. Not to mention, nuclear power is also a very reliable and relatively safe compared to fossil fuels.On the contrary, since nuclear energy is not renewable, it produced waste that remains radioactive for over thousands of years and currently, there are no sufficient or permanent ways to store this waste (10). We not only have to worry about storing the waste, we also have to extensively secure the nuclear reactors radioactive from the public.

Additionally, the world has already successfully implemented more types of renewable resources to eventually replace most nonrenewable resources. Solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass energy have proven to be cheaper, safer, more efficient and more secure than nuclear energy (10).Nuclear energy uses a process called fission to split the atoms of mined uranium or plutonium to produce heat and steam that spins the turbines to generate electricity. This type of sustainable energy is able to supply the world's expanding needs without environmental detriment because it does not produce harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxide (FAQ). Nuclear energy power plants, not the only function without producing a harmful air pollutant, it also will assist in decreasing the amount of carbon emissions released into the air. While reducing the world's carbon dioxide emission by 2.5 million metric tons, nuclear energy has been producing about 11% of the world's total electricity (Nuclear Power Avoided).

Renewable energy sources will not be able to reduce the amount of carbon emissions alone. If the use of nuclear energy is expanded, then renewable and nuclear energy can work together to make a big impact on improving the well-being of the environment.The Nuclear Energy Institution argues that nuclear energy has also made improvements in the economy. In the U.S., the power plants have already employed over 100,000 people in long-term jobs and about 375,000 people in secondary jobs (Jobs). Though the NEI has a clear bias of pro-nuclear energy, it is still able to provide reliable information on the beneficial uses of nuclear technology. The NEI is an organization with members that own and operate nuclear power plants. The writers of the articles on the NEI website are qualified to be writing about the topic of nuclear power because of first-hand experiences and the fact that they specialize in nuclear technology.

The world expanding its use of nuclear energy will not only improve the economy, but it will also contribute to further diversification of the world's energy supply. Countries with a diverse energy supply are able to balance the benefits and risks associated with each source. This means if one source is underperforming, other energy sources will prevent large price fluctuations and higher power bills for consumers (Nuclear in). It is important that we utilize all the resources provided on Earth by turning it into viable energy sources that will contribute to diversifying the world's energy.According to the World Health Organization, in Pripyat, Ukraine, about 4,000 people that were exposed to radiation died and about 200,000 square kilometers of land were affected by the Chernobyl accident of 1986 (Jaquith). Having said that, in an article on Chemistry and Engineering News, scientist and journalist Mark Schrope argues that the number of deaths caused by nuclear energy is far fewer than the number of deaths caused by fossil fuels. Schrope states the use of fossil fuels has caused 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths globally such as respiratory illness, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis (Schrope).

With fossil fuels currently being an essential energy source, it would be expected that it is the most secure and practical source of energy, but this is not the case. With a few mishaps in the past, nuclear energy has been proven to be safer than fossil fuels. When world's dependence on fossil fuels ceases, nuclear energy could potentially be a sufficient replacement due to its reliability, positive economic effects, and its low impact on the Earth. Mark Shrope is a scientist and a journalist that has had his work published in major news outlets such as the Washington Post and Popular Science (Our). Though his main focus of study is Marine science, Schrope provides reliable information and points that contribute to enhancing the argument that nuclear power is the solution for the world's energy problem.On the other hand, a more qualified replacement for fossil fuels is renewable energy especially since it is the world's most rapidly growing energy source, while nuclear energy is only the world's second most rapidly growing energy source.

This is due to the fact that nuclear energy facilities are more expensive, they require more time to develop, and they have to compete with all the different types of renewable energy.On March 11, 2011, Japan witnessed an earthquake with a 9.0 magnitude that destroyed millions of buildings and triggered the Fukushima accident. Though the reactors at the power plants shut down during the earthquake, three of the unstable reactor cores melted three days later and a large amount of radioactive contamination leaked out into nearby waters after the reactor was unable to properly circulate the overheated waste (Fukushima). If there is no permanent way to prevent natural disasters from disturbing older power plants, then the number of nuclear facilities will exponentially decrease as many cities all over the world continue to witness the disintegration of timeworn power plants. In fact, the last nuclear plant in California, the Diablo Canyon, is scheduled to close by 2025. This plant has been open since the 1970's but is now closing because the plant has been discovered to be too close to a fault line (Adamczyk). The flaws that are causing older models to experience mishaps can only be prevented if more effective designs are implemented in the construction of new reactor designs. Continuous fundings to replace old, unreliable nuclear power plants does not seem like a productive step to replacing nonrenewable energy when other efficient and sustainable means of energy production are readily available.       

In an article called Ten Urgent Reasons to Reject Nuclear Power Now, Jim McCluskey argues nuclear waste is dangerous for thousands of years due to the radioactivity. But this argument has distinct flaws because it does not give the whole truth. Though the waste of nuclear energy is radioactive, after about 50 years the radioactivity decays to relatively low levels while many other industrial wastes will remain hazardous indefinitely (Radioactive). In addition many scientific and technical community generally feels confident that they are close to building the technology that will solve the nuclear waste conditioning and disposal question (Sustainable). While this may be true, the radioactive waste is still a problem the world would have to deal with if the use of nuclear is expanded. The most popular way of storing the nuclear waste is in dry casks underground. The dry cask stores the waste in steel, storage units that are either welded or bolted closed with addition steel, concrete, or other materials surrounding the cask that ensure protection from radiation (Dry).

Once we run out of space for underground storage, where will the radioactive waste go? Nuclear waste is a waste that must be kept far away from the public and if there are no secure storages for the waste then nuclear energy is not an absolutely necessary energy source. The argument made by Jim McCluskey, an author on the Truthout website, is backed up reliable sources that he cites in his article. He was a civil engineer and landscape architect that has recently been working with the anti-nuclear weapons movement. Therefore, this shows he is a reliable source because his background has allowed him to assess the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy. In the final analysis, it can be concluded that the world should expand its use of nuclear energy. While the two perspectives are almost evenly balanced, I found more convincing arguments and information that made me lean more in favor of nuclear energy.I found out that nuclear energy is a reliable and safe source of energy that will have positive effects on the environment and the economy. By building more the technologically advanced power plant facilities, we will be able to create more jobs while diversifying the world's energy supply. It should also be noted that nuclear energy has not only caused fewer deaths and destruction to the environment but has also reduced the amount of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere.If more investigation was done on this nuclear power, one topic that would be worth exploring is how different types of nuclear reactors function. For instance, in Russia, there are plans to build more nuclear facilities that utilize a closed fuel cycle. This technique halts the production of radioactive waste from power generation (Nuclear Power). Further research about the advanced reactor technology could further contribute to the argument that nuclear power should be expanded because the research will show just how reliable and safe nuclear power is.

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A Possibility of Usage Of Nuclear Power. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved July 19, 2024 , from

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