What You Should Know

Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons

Nuclear energy has many benefits; however there are also a lot of negative aspects directly associated with the nuclear industry.  Thus it is useful to think about nuclear energy pros and cons when determining the utility and benefit of this kind of alternative power.

Nuclear Energy Pros and ConsCredit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1539

The Pros of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy provides 19.2 percent of all the electricity in the United States. Although the nuclear Industry provides a lot of the electricity, the emissions output is zero. An emission free source of power such as that which the nuclear industry provides is simply amazing.

Many proponents of nuclear energy are in favor of renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power, however to get our country to the level it needs to be will take many years. The best way to keep our country from an energy crisis is to have a reliable and inexpensive source of energy. Nuclear energy fits what we need.

Although building a new reactor facility is very expensive, the ongoing costs of generating energy are extremely cheap. More nuclear facilities could easily power more than the 19.2% they are already powering, and do it cheaper.

By relying more on nuclear energy and less on fossil fuels we will not have to spend as much of our money in the Arab oil producing countries or be at their mercy in terms of petroleum price fluctuations. By being in charge of all of our energy needs without having to buy oil from overseas we will be able to have a more secure nation, and in theory less wars for our troops to fight and die for.

Cons of Nuclear EnergyThe 2011 Nuclear Disaster in JapanCredit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2337

It seems that every time the public begins to support more nuclear facilities another nuclear disaster strikes. The most recent nuclear tragedy occurred in Japan. Millions of people were exposed to radioactive contamination in the air. Proponents of nuclear energy like to say that nuclear energy is a truly clean fuel, unlike fossil fuels. While this may be true, it is only true as long as there are no nuclear meltdowns.

Environmental threats are one of the most common concerns regarding nuclear energy. Chernobyl had a major nuclear disaster occur in 1986. The town of Prypiat (in what used to be the Soviet Union but is now the Ukraine) is still abandoned today because of the Chernobyl disaster and Geiger counters still go off the chart when measuring the deadly radioactive waste that contaminated the area. If a wind turbine breaks down then there is no impact on the environment. If on the other hand a nuclear facility goes into a meltdown, the impact on the environment is truly devastating.

In addition to the huge environmental threats that nuclear energy poses, loss of human life is another major concern. Many people died when the Chernobyl disaster struck plus people are still struggling with high rates of cancer and other diseases that were caused by exposure to the radiation. There are people who have diseases directly attributed to the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, even though they were not even born at the time it occurred. The loss of human life at such a grand scale cannot be underestimated when debating nuclear energy pros and cons.

Radioactive WasteCredit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=809

There is also no safe manner of nuclear waste disposal. Nuclear waste is a by product of producing nuclear energy, yet the safe storage and disposal of the waste is a huge dilemma that still has not been solved.

Another huge negative aspect of nuclear energy is that any country who is producing nuclear energy may also be able to produce nuclear weapons. If a war breaks out and nuclear weapons are used, it could mean the end of civilization on earth. The human species could go the way of the dinosaurs since this kind of energy is powerful enough to wipe out whole populations with certain conditions in place.

There are many nuclear energy pros and cons, but considering everything involved it seems to make much more sense to use biomass and other green energies such as solar power and wind power to meet our energy needs.

Sources:

http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/nuclear_statistics/usnuclearpowerplants/

Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know
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