Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy

Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power was the world?s fastest growing form of energy in the 1990?s. However, presently it is the second slowest growing worldwide. Considering that nuclear power accounts for eleven percent of the world?s energy supply, one must ask what happened [Nuclear Power]. Why is it that the growth of nuclear power has almost completely stalled? The simple answer is that after meltdowns such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, many people are afraid of nuclear power plants, which causes great opposition to the expansion of the industry. Unfortunately, most people are not well informed about nuclear energy; many do not take the time to view its positives and negatives. Contrary to popular belief, there are advantages to nuclear energy as opposed to power by fossil fuels. The largest misunderstanding about nuclear power is that it is extremely dangerous. However, no American has ever died or been severely injured due to nuclear power plants, and worldwide the numbers are also very small. In contrast, on average 10,000 to 50,000 Americans die per year from respiratory problems due to working with coal, and about 300 Americans die per year due to mining and transportation accidents of fossil fuels- and that is only in America [Jiskha]! In addition, nuclear power plants in the United States are strictly regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and all power plant employees are highly trained. Between the nrc and training programs, American nuclear power plants are the safest in the world [Plasma-Material]. However, there is no denying that a nuclear meltdown is very dangerous, and the threat of a melt down will always be a large problem with nuclear energy. Pollution is another topic with both pros and cons. Fossil fuels release harmful pollutants into the air such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Nuclear power does not release any of those toxins into the atmosphere. However, a pollution problem with nuclear energy is thermal pollution, where a plant?s ?hot effluents? are put into a nearby body of water, and raise the temperature by a small amount but enough to cause a disturbance in the ecosystem of the lake or reservoir. Nevertheless, this could easily be solved by cooling the effluents before releasing them into the water. The other problem facing nuclear energy is waste disposal. Nuclear waste is radioactive and very dangerous. Therefore, it must be kept buried and sealed up for a long period of time until the radioactivity dies [Plasma-Material]. One positive fact about nuclear energy that is not disputed is its abundance. It is estimated that at today?s rate of consumption, the earth has about fifty years left of fossil fuels. In contrast, due to the very small amount of uranium needed to create a huge amount of energy, the supply of nuclear energy is almost infinite [Jiskha]. Therefore, nuclear energy is not as bad as it is made out to be. Should the world convert completely to nuclear energy? Absolutely not, there are other renewable sources of energy that are better for the environment and safer. However, should the world continue to phase nuclear energy out? No, nuclear energy is a very efficient form of energy production, and when done right, it is not as harmful as it appears.
Works Cited

Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy 6.9 of 10 on the basis of 2054 Review.