When it comes to nuclear power, many people have sharply divided opinions. Some claim that it holds the potential to replace more traditional fuel sources, such as coal, in an ecologically friendly way. Others, however, claim that it is expensive and dangerous and has the power to cause mass destruction to countless people. The question remains: is nuclear power a safe and effective alternative to traditional fuel sources?
What is nuclear power? According to “Nuclear Power 101” from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), “nuclear power is an energy technology that harnesses the powerful forces that hold together the nucleus of an atom.” This energy is released by splitting the atom in a process called nuclear fission, which can then be utilized by converting it into electricity. In a nuclear reactor, the heat produced from the controlled reaction is used boil water, which in turn drives steam turbines that produce electricity (“Nuclear Power 101”).
There are many advantages when it comes to using nuclear power as opposed to coal and other fossil fuels. First of all, it contributes little to none to global warming or climate change. In fact, nuclear power kills less people on a megawatt-to-megawatt basis than almost any other form of electricity (Walsh). In addition, while nuclear power is non-renewable, the fact that it produces little to no greenhouse gases makes it a viable option that would help to address global warming worldwide. Another advantage of nuclear power is that it is generally safe, with very few accidents having occurred worldwide (Walsh).
In addition to this, new reactor designs could drastically reduce the price of the currently expensive nuclear power plants and could increase t...
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...the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine in 1986, and the Fukushima reactor in Japan in 2011. Accidents like these can have catastrophic consequences. For example, after the Chernobyl accident, “an estimated 220,000 people were displaced from their homes, and the radioactive fallout from the accident made 4,440 square kilometers of agricultural land and 6,820 square kilometers of forests in Belarus and Ukraine unusable” (“Dirty, Dangerous, and Expensive”).
Nuclear power has great potential, and could be a feasible solution for reducing the effects of global warming. However, there are also significant concerns about their safety, security, and the possibility of accidents occurring. The harnessing of nuclear energy has made progress and will continue to do so, but in the meantime stricter regulations should be enforced in order to prevent nuclear disasters from occurring.
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