Is Nuclear Energy the Cleanest Source of Energy?

Fossil fuels are the dirtiest and most dangerous sources of energy, while nuclear power sources and modern renewables are immensely safer and cleaner. Pop culture often misrepresents nuclear energy, as TV shows and movies exploit incorrect information or ideas for the sake of drama. But these are fiction and not the best sources of accurate information. There is a small group of scientists who have proposed replacing 100% of the world's fossil-fuel power plants with nuclear reactors as a way to solve climate change.

Many others propose nuclear cultivation to meet up to 20 percent of all our energy needs (not just electricity). They advocate that nuclear energy is a “clean and carbon-free” source of energy, but they do not observe the human impacts of these scenarios. Nuclear power is by far the largest source of clean air energy in the United States, generating more than half of the country's emission-free electricity. Air pollution causes millions of premature deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization.

Nuclear energy can go beyond any other source of energy to reduce health problems related to air pollution and deaths caused by burning fossil fuels. Third, nuclear energy releases less radiation into the environment than any other major energy source. This statement may seem paradoxical to many readers, since non-nuclear power sources are not commonly known to release radiation into the environment. The worst offender is coal, a mineral in the Earth's crust that contains a substantial volume of the radioactive elements uranium and thorium.

Coal burning gasifies its organic materials, concentrating its mineral components in the remaining residues, called fly ash. So much coal is burned in the world and so much fly ash is produced that coal is actually the main source of radioactive emissions into the environment. A person who stays permanently outside a nuclear plant for one year may be exposed to less than 1 millirem of additional radiation. Securing investment in new nuclear power plants would require more intrusive political intervention, given the very high cost of projects and recent unfavorable experiences in some countries.

Despite recent declines in wind and solar energy costs, adding new renewable capacity requires significantly greater capital investment than extending the useful life of existing nuclear reactors. For too many environmentalists concerned about global warming, nuclear energy is today seen as 'devil's excrement'. However, continued activity in the operation and development of nuclear technology is required to maintain skills and expertise. The Department of Labor says it's safer to work in a nuclear power plant than in a fast-food restaurant, grocery store, or real estate.

Many environmentalists have opposed nuclear energy, citing its dangers and the difficulty of disposing of its radioactive waste. But Pulitzer Prize-winning author argues that nuclear energy is safer than most energy sources and is necessary if the world hopes to radically reduce its carbon emissions. They indicate that, even in the worst possible accident at a nuclear power plant, the complete melting and burning of its radioactive fuel was much less destructive than other major industrial accidents of the last century. Whether or not nuclear energy costs too much will ultimately be a question for markets to decide, but there is no doubt that a full accounting of the external costs of different energy systems would find nuclear energy cheaper than coal or natural gas. This has resulted in hundreds of radioactive waste sites in many countries that must be maintained and financed for at least 200,000 years, far beyond the useful life of any nuclear power plant.

Spent fuel, more than 90 percent of which could be recycled to extend nuclear power production for hundreds of years, is now safely stored in impenetrable dry concrete and steel barrels on the grounds of operating reactors, and its radiation slowly diminishes. Nuclear plants can help limit the impacts of seasonal fluctuations on renewable energy production and strengthen energy security by reducing dependence on imported fuels. The Atomic Energy Commission believed that high-grade uranium minerals were in short supply in the country; it considered mining uranium for nuclear weapons from the abundant U. S. For example, Korea has a much better track record of completing construction of new projects on time and within budget, although the country plans to reduce its dependence on nuclear energy. About a quarter of current nuclear capacity in advanced economies will be closed by 2025, mainly due to policies to reduce the role of nuclear energy.

Jerald Shiiba
Jerald Shiiba

Professional tv junkie. General zombie lover. Professional pop cultureaholic. Infuriatingly humble music scholar. Freelance travel maven.

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