The climate is changing, and our societies are progressing. Our old ways of producing electricity reveal to be harmful and inefficient. Greenhouse gases pour into our atmosphere, heating the globe. Fracking and oil spills destroy ecosystems. We have been using fossil fuels as an energy source for so long, and the consequences are now piling up. It is a wise idea to slowly switch fossil fuels out for cleaner alternatives to lower the negative effects. Safer and more productive means of energy production do exist, and among many of these is nuclear energy. Although nuclear waste is hazardous if not stored properly, its benefits greatly outweigh its downsides. It releases no emissions, is extremely efficient, and is cheaper than fossil fuels.
One of the arguably most prominent benefits of nuclear energy is that they create no emissions whatsoever. Unlike nuclear energy, fossil fuels like coal and natural gas must be burnt. Burning these substances release massive amounts of greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. These substances collect in the atmosphere, trapping heat from the sun in a process aptly named the greenhouse effect. This alongside other factors is what causes our global temperatures to rise, which can cause a plethora of problems such as glacier melt, severe weather, and droughts among many others.
Nuclear power plants are clean energy. The method in which they generate electricity releases only steam, purely evaporated water, into the atmosphere. The energy of splitting atoms in half generates a lot of heat which boils water. The steam from the water is used to spin massive turbines, thus producing electricity. There are no traces of radiation or other pollution in this steam. This way of creating electricity releases no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere or other byproducts into the air.
Nuclear energy is also exceedingly efficient compared to fossil fuels. The Nuclear Energy Institute writes, “One uranium fuel pellet—about the size of a gummy bear—creates as much energy as one ton of coal, 149 gallons of oil or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas” (“Nuclear Provides Carbon-Free Energy 24/7”, par. 4). Taking a uranium atom and then splitting it in half releases such an immense amount of energy compared to slowly burning coal, oil, or gas. A single power plant can power 60 million homes each year, compared to a coal plant's 400 to 900 homes powered per year. (Ervin, par. 18). This is a stunning difference. Each load of nuclear power plant fuel also lasts for a long time. A nuclear power plant only needs to be refueled every 18 to 24 months and can run nearly all the time, generating almost its full capacity of possible energy. Although not renewable, nuclear energy is one of the most beneficial and productive means of creating clean energy. Some even say that nuclear energy is the most reliable and efficient power source humanity has engineered so far.
In the long run, nuclear power plants are very cheap. The immediate process of building nuclear energy plants is more expensive than creating fossil fuel plants, however, due to the massive amounts of energy, the nuclear plants churn out they are extremely cost-efficient. They are very easy to maintain and if kept in shape can last decades. It is extremely rare for nuclear power plants to have meltdowns, which are highly dangerous and extremely expensive to clean up. There is no need to regularly clean up polluted areas due to the no emissions created by the plants. Fossil fuel plants on the other hand constantly release pollution into the atmosphere, into bodies of water, and the ground. The damage that this creates costs billions of dollars, and costs many lives. Americans spend about a trillion dollars on fossil fuels each year! Due to how efficient nuclear energy is, the cost of consuming and creating this type of power would be much lower.
Nuclear power plants will also create new jobs. Scientists and engineers will be working on developing even better plants. At all times, workers must maintain the power plants, making sure that they are stable, clean, and running the best they can. Building the plants will also create new jobs. Aside from work in the power plants themselves, people will work in mines to dig out uranium ore. To transport that ore, trucks, boats, and aircraft will take the materials to nuclear fuel fabrication facility to convert the ores into compact yet powerful pellets of fuel. Yet again, this fuel must be transported by land, sea, and air to power plants around the globe. Introducing power plants to communities will create a plethora of new jobs and careers, whether its labor, maintenance, transport, or engineering.
Of course, nothing in this universe is perfect. There are some drawbacks to nuclear energy that make many people reluctant to institute it. It is not a renewable resource like solar or wind, and habitats will be hurt as people go drilling and mining for suitable uranium. However, it will be minuscule compared to fracking and coal mining. Coal has to be dug out of the earth constantly, along with oil and natural gas. Due to how much power a small amount of nuclear fuel can produce, humanity won’t have to dig out massive amounts that would sustain for a relatively short amount of time.
Another risk that may make people cautious about nuclear power plants is the fact that occasionally they have reactor meltdowns. We have learned from the massive destruction caused by meltdowns like in Fukushima, Japan, and Chernobyl, Russia. A disaster like that would release a huge amount of radiation into the surrounding area, making it unlivable. Mass evacuations would have to be put into place quickly. The surrounding wildlife can become ill with radiation and give birth to young with horrible deformities. However, meltdowns like these are extremely rare. Scientists and workers at power plants recognize these dangers and have put into place heavy security measures. The plants are always monitored and maintained. Another drawback is nuclear waste, the leftover, unusable fuel that is still radioactive. This poses a threat to humans and wildlife alike. Large amounts of this waste would have to be stored away and hidden, secured well enough to prevent any spills and leaks. This will be a challenge for humanity as we embrace nuclear power more and more. However, we already have measures to store nuclear waste deep into the earth, and scientists are engineering new methods as well. It’s a great inconvenience and risk we will have to take, although the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the dangers
Nuclear energy is a power source that would benefit humanity more than fossil fuels. Despite the dangers of meltdowns and the struggle with nuclear waste, this clean energy source’s benefits greatly outweigh its harm. It releases no emissions whatsoever into the atmosphere, combating pollution, and climate change. Fewer habitats would be destroyed as we wouldn’t have to mine out great masses of it constantly, due to how efficiently it produces energy. The power plants are long-living and easy to maintain and are overall very cheap. Many new jobs will be created maintaining, building, and gathering and processing fuel for the plants. Fossil fuels have been shown to be outdated and harmful. We should embrace nuclear power and progress with it
I'm Iris, a kid who has lots of reflections and views on life as I experience it. I love to read topics about the world around us, other people's ideas and opinions, and just about anything that I'm curious about and interested in.