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The Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power

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Scientists for over one hundred years have been attempting to harness the power of nuclear energy. In the 1900’s nuclear fission was discovered in heavier elements by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman. This began to pave the way for nuclear energy and nuclear power plants. After this in 1954 the first nuclear power plant, Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant, was christened as the first nuclear power plant to receive a First Critically rating. Since then nuclear power plants have grown exponentially. Currently there are 449 nuclear reactors throughout the world. Throughout this time however, there has been backlash against these facilities. There are a group of people who believe that these facilities are highly dangerous, they wreak havoc on the ecosystem, and the spent fuel rods are dangerous if not properly disposed of. On the other side however there is a group that believes that these facilities do a lot of good. They believe that; it’s a cleaner source of energy, it’s much more cost effective, cheaper, and safer. We should use more nuclear energy because it is cleaner, safer, efficient, and cheaper than other forms of energy.

While nuclear energy has many pros, it also has some cons. One of these cons is the risk of nuclear waste. The risk of nuclear waste is very dangerous as it can destroy the environment around the facility if not properly secured. Even within the United States there are not proper areas to dispose of these spent nuclear fuel rods. Author Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about this in her essay “The Nuclear Risk” when she wrote “The U.S. still does not have a plan for developing a long term storage facility for radioactive waste, much of which will remain dangerous for millennia” (Kolbert 50). The publication for this reader is The New York Times which is a very popular magazine. Spent radioactive waste is very dangerous for the ecosystem and can contaminate the ground and the surrounding area for generation to come. This is why it’s crucial to develop long term and safe storage for this waste. As long as there is not proper storage for this nuclear waste no matter how clean the energy may be it is still negatively effecting the area around the nuclear facility. Nuclear waste however becomes less dangerous very quickly. According to Patrick Moore, an ex Greenpeace member, author of “Going Nuclear: A Green Makes the Case” he tackles that issue when he writes “Within 40 years, used fuel has less than one-thousandth of the radioactivity it had when removed from the reactor” (Moore 48). This shows that while nuclear waste is dangerous and can affect the environment it is not a permanent inhibitor on the environment.

Many energy sources have immense harmful impacts on our environment. Within every source of energy, they all have their pros and cons, but nuclear power is very clean. When done properly and with proper disposal nuclear energy is extremely clean and does not pose a threat to the environment or to people living around the reactors. By using nuclear energy, we don’t use other harmful forms of energy. David Biello wrote about this in his essay “How Nuclear Power Can Stop Global Warming” when he said “The low-carbon electricity produced by such reactors provides 20 percent of the nations’ power and… avoided 64 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution” (Biello 51). Greenhouse gas pollution is a very dangerous pollutant that destroys the ozone layer around Earth. It is a primary factor in the increase in global warming and any attempt to reduce these emissions will greatly influence the Earth and attempt to restore a natural balance. This is important because the other forms of energy are slowly destroying the Earth and can be linked directly to climate change. This is therefore making the Earth safer in terms of a climate crisis.

For many people around the world the number one concern is safety. Nuclear power tends to be one of the safest forms of energy out there. Many people do not approve of nuclear power plants due to the inherent risk of the plants and the dangers that come with accidents within them. While many of the tragedies of nuclear power plants are awful they are rare, and not all of them have led to catastrophes. Patrick Moore wrote about the incident at Three Mile Island when he wrote” Three Miles Island was a success story” (Moore 47). The incident at Three Mile Island showed the world that not all of the reactors would cause mass destruction if destroyed. When the proper safety technics and tactics are employed the incident is very minor. Moore also wrote “No one has died of a radiation-related accident in the history of the U.S. civilian nuclear reactor program” (Moore 48). This is a stark difference from the coal trade in which thousands of people die every year in mines throughout the world. Coal mining is a very dangerous job and will continue to be as we require more and more coal constantly. By switching to an alternative source of energy we can eliminate these mines saving countless lives. While nuclear energy is a safer alternative it is also a very effective form of energy.

A criteria for what energy we should use is effectiveness of the energy. Nuclear power is one of the most effective forms of energy we have to date by miles. Other forms of energy take a long time to produce or they do not produce energy at the same level as nuclear energy. Moore writes about forms of energy that are unreliable when he writes “Wind and Solar have their place, but because are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can’t replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric” (Moore 47). This is a true statement as many cleaner forms of energy tend to not be 100% reliable and therefore we cannot count on them to supply cities with a constant steady supply of energy. This is something that nuclear energy can do and it can do well. While nuclear energy is very effective in producing amounts of energy to be supplied it is also effective in other areas.

A major pro for the use of nuclear energy is how cost effective and cheap it is. Different forms of energy tend to be very expensive and therefore we cannot build big facilities to manufacture those forms of energy. One example is natural gas which is a large energy source for the world. Patrick Moore discussed this in his essay when he wrote “Natural Gas, a fossil fuel, is too expensive already, and its price is too volatile to risk building big baseload plants” (Moore 47). Nuclear energy however is the exact opposite. Nuclear energy is one of the cheapest forms of power known to mankind and continues to be one of the more effective. Energy being this cheap would be revolutionizing as all other forms tend to be much more expensive. Cheap energy would be an easy switch for consumers as they want the lowest price for the energy that they require.

A commonplace is an assumption that the author adds into their article. The author assumes that the audience is knowledgeable about this information and that no explanation is needed. A commonplace used is that people fear terrorism. This commonplace is used because an argument against the use of nuclear energy is what happens if a terrorist group attempts to cause one of the reactors to fail and thus cause a catastrophe. This hinders the argument because is effects the area of safety which is a major concern for many people. Security in nuclear power plants aren’t even required to have firearms. Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about this “But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in revising its security rules, decided not to require that plants be able to defend themselves against groups carry the most dangerous sort of weapon” (Kolbert 50). This is a safety struggle for nuclear energy however it continues to be safer than many other forms of energy with a whole host of pluses.

Nuclear energy is one of the most efficient forms of energy to use for power. With our growing need for energy and a need for a safer more effective form the choice is clear. Nuclear energy is the choice as it continues to blow other forms of energy out of the water. It is cleaner than oil, cheaper than natural gas, and less people die per year when comparing coal mining. We should increase the amount of nuclear power plants therefore to increase the nuclear energy we use throughout the world. This would give us more energy and allow for us to decrease our dependency on all other forms of energy.

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