Nuclear Power Entering the twenty-first century, six billion people inhabit the earth. A number that is expected to double in a hundred and twenty years, yet only 4% of that world population lives in the Untied States. Even though the Untied States is only 4% of the population of the world, it still uses 25% of the worlds resources. This statistic is most important with the argument of food consumption, with so many countries starving, but it also means that the United States uses 25% of the worlds energy resources. Coal and oil are a major energy provider around the world, particularly in the US.
(See figure 1) Many countries without these abundances have turned to nuclear energy, due to its supreme effectiveness. Nuclear energy produces more energy per unit weight than coal and oil, releases no pollutants into the atmosphere and is less cancer causing than the burning of coal and oil. Yet nuclear power has been attacked in the US since the day that it was instituted as being a non-safe and environmentally non-friendly form of energy. Right now the United States does not have to worry about running out of fossil fuels for a long time, even though they generate 51.7% of the USs power, and power almost all forms of modern transportation. But what happens down the road, when all of the natural resources are gone? In many countries, such as France, nuclear power is accepted and welcome. Why is this not the same way in the US? The media and all forms of entertainment have misconstrued the facts of nuclear energy. Most people are sacred of nuclear power, the word unsafe is synonymous with nuclear power in this country, but time has shown that there is so reason for this feeling.
Americans do not hold the facts on this issue. They have the unwarranted fears of a mass and free speaking culture. Nuclear energy is safe, clean, and effective. The voice that is heard among the people is that nuclear energy is unsafe to the environment. There should be no debate about the environmental concerns of nuclear power.
If there is anything that makes nuclear power unpractical it is government spending. Never the less nuclear power is the cleanest form of power for a rapidly increasing world population. Nuclear reactors produce electricity by the fission of uranium, not the burning of fossil fuels, not emitting sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate soot, or greenhouse gases. In countries around the world nuclear energy is the largest source of emission-free electrical generation. Making one million kilowatt-hours of electricity in a natural gas power plant produces 550 tons of carbon dioxide.
Producing the same amount in an oil-fired plant makes 850 tons of carbon dioxide and 1,110 in a coal plant. But making one million kilowatt hours of electricity in a nuclear plant creates no carbon dioxide. Not only does nuclear energy not emit any pollutants, it is causing the average of pollutants that are let into air to decline. Since 1973, the generation of electricity by US power plants has resulted in two billion fewer tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. (See figure 2) Nuclear energy has accounted for 90% of all carbon emission reductions achieved by the electric utility industry.
And the fact still remains that I gram plutonium has the same energy potential as 1 ton of oil. Another major concern for the environment is what to do with the waste of a nuclear plant. It is in this area that causes people feel that nuclear power is unsafe for the environment. The fact is that the waste is radioactive for thousands of years, and if not disposed of properly could destroy the environment. In some countries, such as France, the waste from the nuclear plants is recycled making a lower amount of unusable waste.
This is not done in the US, but should always be an option. The waste is stored in huge drums impermeable to any type of disaster. As a result, the nuclear energy industry is the only industry established since the industrial revolution that has managed and accounted for all of its waste, preventing adverse impacts on the environment. Yet what worries people is that the waste is radioactive. At a close range a person would only receive 3 millarems of radiation from one of the tanks, when the average person receives 350 millarems of radiation each year from everything around them.
Even when the plant on Three Mile Island had a disaster in 1979, (the worst is US history) the average person that resided in that area received 2 to 10 millarems. This would also mean that nuclear power is not the cancer causing threat that the majority of the population thinks that it is. The burning of coal is more cancerous then nuclear power, and coal burning releases more radiation then nuclear power. Not only is nuclear power more nature friendly, but more human friendly. The United States needs a non-polluting form of energy that can supply the mass of people, and they have it.
Nuclear power is not an enemy and should be considered for use in the future. The abundance of coal could be exported to other countries that dont have the money to run on nuclear power. This could be in turn used to finance nuclear power. France runs on 76% nuclear power and there it is seen as the safe, environmentally friendly practice that it is. However to be as efficient as France, the US must recycle their waste products to be used in the plants, helping to decrease the fear of nuclear waste. With the facts on paper, in black and white, nuclear power is the logical choice with the environment as the concern. The only thing that is let into the air out of a nuclear plant in steam, and that water is not contaminated in any way.
Human beings are the only species that take and gather more then they need. No other species on the planet uses up all of the resources it can find. Animals live in a symbiotic relationship with the planet. Animals do not willingly pollute earth; man knows that he is contaminating the planet by burning fossil fuels for energy. Nuclear power is much more environmentally friendly.
When all the waste is accounted for, which it has been since the moment of institution, the nuclear industry lets no pollutants into the earth. With concern for the health of the environment, nuclear power is the answer. Bibliography http://www.nea.fr/ Keyword search: Environment http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseindex/1D/01D42 000.htm?z=1&pg=2&br=1, Nuclear Energy. 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/nuclea r-faq.html, FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY. Oct.17, 1995 United States. Congress.
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