What is our world becoming? Business is triumphing over our own safety and health. The thought of climate change being nonexistent is blasphemous. Carbon emission from the burning of fossil fuels has cased climate change, but that’s not the point. Our main source of energy has been the burning of fossil fuels, which is a nonrenewable source of energy. Fossil fuels will not last forever, once it’s gone what will we use? Out of desperately, many have suggested nuclear power.
Nuclear fission create heat by introducing a uranium rod into water; this process causes a neutron to splits a uranium atom in half to create heat, which then heats up the water to turn a turbine. In result, the turning of the turbine creates energy. Nuclear power plants use the same turbines and generators as modern power plants. Nuclear energy can be an excellent provider for our energy necessities, but the consequences immensely outweigh the benefits. Nuclear energy could potential take over as the new default power source in the United States in the near future.
Nuclear power has shown to be the most reliable renewable source of energy out in the world. This type of power plant produces enormous amounts of energy and at the same time producing small amounts of waste. However, it has to be taken into account that nuclear power is exceptionally dangerous. Nuclear power plants have to be run extremely cautiously, any minor mishap can result in a disaster. Maintaining a nuclear power plant is also expensive. Sustaining a safe work environment is difficult because any little leak can cause havoc.
These nuclear power plants may not emit carbon, but their waste products are even more dangerous than any other power plant. Nuclear plants produce radioactive material. The radioactive material produced by these plants have to be stored somewhere for centuries because of the longevity of the toxicity. The accidents that have occurred in the past were horrendous. To this day the effects of those individual accidents still exists. The biggest melt down occurred in Chernobyl, which to this day is inhabitable because of the extreme levels of radiation.
Furthermore, terminal cancer has appeared in populations where there has been a nuclear power plant disaster. No matter how strictly a nuclear plant is run, external variables such as natural disasters are untamable. Relying on nuclear power is just too risky, especially since it’s not the only energy option out there. Future Energy Second Edition, by Trevor M. Letcher, covers a wide of energies that can be utilized in the near future. As the world’s population increases and technology continues to advance, the demand for global energy increases.
Fossil fuels are limited and it’s time to open our minds to alternative forms of energy. Current sources of energies range from fossil fuels (nonrenewable) to renewable energies such as solar and wind power. Nuclear power is important to be discussed because of the high amounts of energy expelled by such small amounts of resources. Future energies are now expected to be cleaner because of how the burning of fossil fuels has contributed to the thinning of the ozone layer, which in reality explains why the climate has drastically changed.
The levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing gradually over time since the industrial revolution (Letcher p. 5). “Electricity production is responsible for producing the largest amount of carbon dioxide emission (26%)” (Letcher p. 5). Renewable energy such as wind and solar are great to a certain extent, they just aren’t reliable because they depend on something that can’t be controlled: the weather. “It has become conventional to talk about the theoretical resource of a renewable energy source and also the technical potential. The former has limited practical use” (Letcher p. 313).
Solar energy is bundant because solar radiation falls on the surface of the earth at any given time (Letcher p. 383). These renewable sources are simply unreliable because of the inability to store the energy for later usage. With the lack of an immediate solution for our energy woes, nuclear energy seems like the perfect long term fix. “Nuclear fuel differs from other sources of energy due to its extremely high-energy density” (Letcher 181). Uranium is what fuels the nuclear power plants. There is an extreme abundance of uranium found on earth. The combination of availability and potential overcasts the dangers.
Critical Reflections on Nuclear and Renewable Energy, written by professor Way Kuo, provides a spectrum of energy sources that could be used following the Fukushima nuclear accident in March of 2011. The United States needs to look at nuclear energy from a rational point of view instead of being influenced by pure impulse. Nuclear energy’s reliability has been questioned, but the actually probability of a nuclear accident is negligible. According to Physicist B. L Cohen, an individual’s life expectancy shouldn’t be affected by living near a nuclear power plant (Kuo p. 7). Those who live close to a radiation leak are the ones in danger.
The 40 year old Fukushima reactor didn’t even leak prior to the 9. 0 earthquake in 2011. The reactor had just reached the limit of its designed life-span. With age everything collapses. Nuclear reactors have a shelf-life as well, with time they should be repaired, replaced, and restructured (Kuo p. 28). Nuclear energy was first taken seriously after an energy crisis broke out in the 1970’s (Kuo p. 61). In result, there was a scramble for oil resources in the world. International disputes broke out because of the high demand of oil in the 1990’s. Nuclear power continued to be look upon as a low-priced alternative.
This alternative though was continually challenged because of the several accidents that had already occurred up to that date (ex. Chernobyl and The Three Mile Island nuclear accident). However, nuclear energy may be potentially dangerous, but it is the cleanest form of reliable energy. “If we compare the greenhouse gas released in the life cycle of different energy chains, the nuclear power chain releases the smallest quantity of greenhouse gas” (Kuo p. 63) Trevor M. Letcher’s book, Future Energy Second Edition, offers a variety of viewpoints on many different sources of energy that can be used in the foreseeable future.
This book is extremely detailed, but full of confusing subtopics. Letcher’s introductory chapter was vital because he introduces climate change and what is causing it. His next chapter introduces fossil fuels and its negatives. Letcher intelligently placed climate change and fossil fuels next to each other. A wide variety of energy sources is displayed in the book; Letcher also thought outside the box and introduced a new category called “new possible energy options. ” He slightly covered nuclear energy as well. This section in the book was short and lacked the information needed to support or go against nuclear energy.
The information given was mainly information about nuclear fission, which is the process of how nuclear energy is made. Trevor M. Letcher’s novel is full of complex information that would be important to recall when thinking about future energy needs. Way Kuo, author of Critical Reflections on Nuclear and Renewable Energy, proves to be a rational thinker in his book. Kuo seems to be against the regular use of nuclear energy. Also, he is slightly cautious in regards to nuclear safety, especially after the Fukushima incident. The book dives nose first into the question of whether or not nuclear energy is reliable or not.
This approach is fantastic because it forces the audience to critically think from the beginning. A mixture of the Fukushima incident and the reliability of nuclear power can create quite a spark in the mind of the audience. Kuo did a great job introducing nuclear energy from the start. He then transitioned to renewable energy sources. By this point, the audience should have a doubt in their minds about nuclear energy. However, when Kuo introduces renewable energy sources, he doesn’t just give his audience the positives, he also adds the negatives. Kuo is pretty much revealing to the audience that with any great idea there are always flaws.