Against Nuclear Power

When considering the ever-changing and highly competitive global landscape of international relations and business today, all nations and their respective economies must be able to effectively globalize their energy operations in order to reach a greater potential resource base and sustain fiscal durability in the long-term. In accomplishing the aforementioned tasks, many nations have placed environmental considerations at the bottom of the ladder of priority. However, with countless new environmental initiatives cropping up each day, it behooves any and all government and big business personnel to gain a greater respect for the fragile environment in which we live. Terms like “emissions,” “energy consumption,” “fossil fuel depletion” and “carbon footprint” are increasingly becoming a part of the average global citizen’s vocabulary. The future of all nations lies in the hands of those who seriously embrace the importance of such rhetoric. Accordingly, several energy-producing options have been considered and implemented by various countries. Nuclear power is one such option that numerous nations have tried. Being that Nuclear plants do not burn very much fossil fuel (as compared to a typical energy producing facility) and Uranium is a much more efficient producer of energy than coal or oil, many economies have historically believed that this type of power is superior to traditional means of energy generation. However, history has shown that the countless negative side effects associated with the production of Nuclear energy surely outweigh any potential benefits. The highly volatile nature of Uranium for instance, provides one such example of the intense security risks placed upon Nuclear power plant employees. Also, with horrific Nuclear power plant accidents like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island littering the history of this type of energy production, the potential downsides affixed to this practice will not soon be forgotten. And with various other progressive and environmentally safe options for energy production (i.e. wind energy and solar energy) now coming to the forefront of global energy production, it seems like an investment into a dated and risky enterprise like Nuclear energy would not be a very smart one.

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In addition to the various aforementioned shortcomings associated with the generation of Nuclear energy, the proliferation of Nuclear weapons is yet another worldwide concern, which has subsequently deterred many economies from entering this energy arena. Several countries continue to pursue Nuclear energy, but solely as a means of diverting public attention from their true ambitions regarding Nuclear weaponry . Being that the production of Nuclear weapons requires many of the same processes (Nuclear fission and Nuclear fusion) as Nuclear energy production, it is often difficult to precisely determine the motives and activities that take place at questionable Nuclear facilities . Therefore, with new global terrorist threats arising extremely regularly, this is yet another reason why this type of energy production is unlikely to receive unified global support.

While well-operated Nuclear power plants do emit relatively low amounts of Carbon Dioxide into the environment, these facilities run the chronic risk of emitting radiation, which is much more directly harmful to almost all forms of life. The effects of radiation can affect an individual’s health immediately or remain dormant for long periods of time. Cancer is one possible disease that can be contracted from the exposure to nuclear radiation . And knowing that massive amounts of Uranium (an element capable of producing very high levels of radiation) necessary to operate a Nuclear energy facility, the risk is quite large. In fact, not only are plant workers at risk, but also citizens in nearby communities have been shown to develop serious health problems as a result of prolonged exposure to Nuclear byproducts . For no matter how safely or securely a Nuclear power plant is managed, radioactive materials are inevitably produced during the process of Nuclear power generation. What is more, the radioactive nature of these materials remains for an extremely long period of time (thousands of years) . Therefore, these byproducts of Nuclear power production must be professionally handled and stored in secure environments. This process can become extremely difficult and lack cost-effectiveness in the long-term.

The potential for Nuclear meltdowns also poses a significant risk to plant workers and neighboring townships. One such memorable disaster occurred in the Ukraine in the spring of 1986, when the Nuclear power plant Chernobyl experienced two massive explosions, which led to the leakage of an immense amount of harmful radiation . This event tragically ended in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, some of whom died within days of the accident, others contracted terminal cancer years after the incident . With the global tragedy of this event still fresh in the minds of many, it does not seem likely that new proposals for Nuclear power plants will be universally embraced.

Similarly to concerns facing conventional means of energy production through the utilization of fossil fuels, the depletion of the world’s supply of Uranium is a looming problem facing the Nuclear power industry. Even with several new initiatives and research regarding alternative means of Nuclear energy production, almost all forms of Nuclear energy continue to require Uranium. Moreover, the world’s supply of Uranium is even harder to determine than our supply of crude oil . And being that a successful Nuclear power plant typically takes between fifteen and twenty years to plan and construct, the uncertainty arising from longevity potentials comprises yet another substantial deterrent to the construction of new Nuclear facilities.

Additionally, with new areas of energy generation like wind and solar power cropping up in the modern globalized world, it seems like there will be no need to continue utilizing potentially hazardous production methods like those associated with Nuclear power. The various benefits associated with the implementation of wind and/or solar energy mechanisms are both significant and numerous. Both forms involve relatively unobtrusive mechanisms that can be customized for personal or institutional use . They can be easily installed and represent no immediate or future risks to the environment or public health. In fact, many solar panels and wind turbines can be recycled and reused. Therefore, with the environmentally-friendly and non-threatening nature of these types of progressive energy sources, it seems very unlikely that future generations will be exposed to the great health and environmental risks which accompany Nuclear power.

Ultimately, while Nuclear power could be viewed as advantageous in comparison to some other means of energy generation (those utilizing fossil fuels), the tremendous harmful potentialities connected to this type of energy production prevent its effective implementation on a universal scale. The war against terror and the global proliferation of Nuclear weaponry presents a substantial roadblock to many Nuclear energy programs. And with the Chernobyl catastrophe still haunting the minds of many individuals in the energy industry, it seems like the gravity of these barriers is almost insurmountable. Especially considering the existence of other progressive alternatives like wind and solar energy, it does not appear likely that the global community will allow for the same mistakes to be made over again.

Bibliography

Bodansky, D. (2004). Nuclear Energy: Principles, Practices, and Prospects (2nd Edition ed.). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag LLC.

Hatch, M., Ron, E., Bouville, A., Zablotska, L., & Howe, G. (2005). The Chernobyl Disaster: Cancer following the Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Epidemiol Review, 27 (1), 56-66.

Jo, D.-J., & Gartzke, E. (2007). Determinants of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 51 (1), 167-194.

Ryan, V. (2009). Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Power. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://www.technologystudent.com/energy1/wind8.htm

Slovic, P., Lichtenstein, S., & Bischhoff, B. (1979). Images of Disaster: Perception and Acceptance of Risks from Nuclear Power. Electric Perspectives, 3 (29), 8-20.

World Nuclear Association. (2010, December). Supply of Uranium. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf75.html


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