The demand for energy is ever increasing, as countries continue to develop and modernize, the need for power increases. Around the globe, the most common source of energy is mainly generated through the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. A smaller percentage of this includes hydroelectric power from rivers and dams, and nuclear power. In the United States alone, 20% of electrical energy is being produced by nuclear reactors . As of right now, the US has 98 nuclear power plants operating in 30 of its states and is the largest producer of electrical energy by nuclear power in the world . The generation of electricity through nuclear power is the safest alternative and is beneficial for the United States to increase its reliance on it, as well as removing the stigma around nuclear power.
When the general public hears the words nuclear power it is not uncommon for the idea of war, destruction, and danger to come into mind. It should be known that nuclear power today is not only about the creation of atomic bombs but about the necessary production of electricity. Generating power through nuclear energy proves to be less detrimental to our environment that is growing more fragile and has become an important alternative to using up the world’s natural resources. Fossil fuels are still our main source of energy but is extremely …ecologically destructive through (1) mining, (2) air pollution, (3) greenhouse gas emissions, and (4) water pollution. Each year, 23 billion tons of carbon dioxide is put into our atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels . To put in perspective the benefits of nuclear power on the reduction of carbon emission into the atmosphere, 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions have already been reduced just from the nuclear power plants in operation today, instead of traditional fossil fuel power plants. That is 11% of the total carbon dioxide emissions . All these harmful effects contribute to global warming and the changing climate of our planet. Nuclear power is a far more efficient and environmentally friendly source compared to fossil fuels due to the fact that it creates a larger amount of energy from uranium per gram than that of oil or coal and releases no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere .
A prime example of nuclear power’s potential lies to the north of the United States, in Canada. In 50 years of using nuclear power, not a single incident have occurred that resulted in the fatality of an individual due to radiation exposure. This was achieved through the many safety systems that are in place at the nuclear power generation plants which addresses common problems of human error in the operation, maintenance, and response procedures of the plants. As well as other risks, such as equipment failure and natural disasters. Natural disasters are great threats to nuclear power plants, in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, waves generated from a high magnitude earthquake caused the shutdown of backup generator, which eventually let to malfunction of cooling systems and overheating of fuel rods (https://www.britannica.com/event/Fukushima-accident.) These incidents could be prevented with the proper safety protocols and building power plants that are able to respond to situations such as this one, as well as a well trained team that is ready to respond and adapt to different threats. Furthermore, nuclear power plants are designed to contain the radioactive emissions if an accident were to occur and prevent any radiation from leaking out of the facilities.
It is empirical that nuclear power is the safest form of power generation. More people have died from air pollution from coal and petroleum forms of power generation than nuclear power, at a rate of almost 30 deaths per TWh for coal, and 17 deaths per TWh for petroleum. Compared to nuclear power’s 0 deaths per TWh. There were no fatalities from the largest nuclear accident in the US, which was Three Mile Island, as well as the most recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The most famous case of Chernobyl caused less than 50 deaths in the past 30 years. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/06/11/if-nuclear-power-is-so-safe-why-are-we-so-afraid-of-it/#42719a0a6385).
When these numbers are compared to fossil fuel air pollution fatalities, it is clear that nuclear power generation is the more viable, economical, and logical solution to our power generation demand. Moreover, nuclear power has the potential to grow tremendously as a field, which will be proven beneficial to the economy. Extracting energy from nuclear reactions is a very complex and sometimes dangerous job, meaning the employees working to extract nuclear energy must be highly skilled in order to meet these demands. Due to these reasons, nuclear energy is one of the most high-paying jobs in the world. According to The Nuclear Energy Institute, the starting salary for nuclear engineers is around $65,000 and can go over $100,000. The nuclear energy industry creates lasting, high-paying jobs for people from a wide range of fields and educational backgrounds, not just engineers. People are recruited to the nuclear energy industry from universities, community colleges, and the military, providing high-quality jobs to the whole community.
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