Nature is one of the crucial factors which someone speaking about a good, healthy and long life should first take care of. For many years, it has been noticed that when nature is neglected, the outcome is undesirable and hazardous. That is observed in many natural disasters created by human activities on the planet. Despite the high level of technology and its rapid growth, the issue of environmental conservation should be raised so as to sustain a balanced economy. Without that, advancing in technology will bring about creating a deadly slow poison for our bodies. A huge number of resources used in our industry are acquired from the environment: timber, minerals, wildlife for the food processing industry, other raw materials. Unless we come up with a method of replenishing these natural resources, they soon will become exhausted, and a crisis will occur.
Energy is one of the major factors and resources that any developed or developing state needs massively in order to maintain its profits and have a booming economy. Throughout America and Europe, coal has been the main source of energy since the Industrial revolution. Coal, though a great and readily available source of energy, is disadvantaged by high emission of greenhouse gases that have led to the depletion of the ozone layer. This layer protects the Earth from abnormal heating by filtering the sun rays before they reach the surface of the planet. Otherwise, such heating would cause environmental degradation and poor crop production leading to shortage of food. Nature has a way to get a revenge if the required care is not delivered, therefore it is of greater benefit for humanity to prevent natural disasters than to cope with their consequences. Despite the initial cost of nuclear power plants’ installation, the overall impact of fossil fuels as a source of energy would cause more catastrophes and financial losses. That is why opting for cheaper sources of energy appears to be the best alternative. This paper delves into how nuclear energy can help to save the environment and reveals relating historical events.
Historical Background of Energy Sources Usage and the Environment
In recent years, a lot of research has been done in order to solve the issue of emission of greenhouse gases so as to protect the ozone layer. Through research and experiments, the scientists assumed that the best way to save our environment is to adopt nuclear energy. Nuclear power is a convenient source of energy that can help us to save the environment; it is a clean source of energy, therefore there is no emission of greenhouse gases. If burning fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil is chosen in order to generate energy it also results in a high production of carbonic gases that deplete the ozone layer. Therefore, nuclear energy can help in solving the issue of environmental pollution. It is also a reliable and safe source of energy, because the plant’s reactor is situated within safe distance of the areas of human inhabitance. After the plant is built, the maintenance cost is low and less manpower is needed, only a group of engineers to monitor the temperature changes in the reactor and to control the reaction process, which is mostly automatic.
Nuclear Power as a Reliable Source of Energy
Generally, 85% of the world’s energy used by industrial civilization is generated from burning fossil fuels: gas and coal. For example, in Britain the use of coal has led to deforestation, so this country’s forests can no longer meet the rising demand for coal so as to push forward the industrialization. At the same time, forests create conducive habitat for the wildlife; coal mining will lead to deforestation thus leaving the wild animals homeless and significantly shortening the tourist areas that are also a source of income. Coal is readily available, but its use will last only for several centuries. Earth is a fragile planet to live on. To keep it habitable and to ensure its ability to handle the modern life pace while maintaining a smooth continuation of the Industrial revolution and civilization development, there is an urgent need to make changes in the lifestyle and opt for safe, clean and eco-friendly sources of energy like nuclear power.
The argument is not that we should abandon the renewable sources of energy; they also play a big part in industrialization in inaccessible areas and unique natural conditions. But their contribution in general is like a drop in the ocean in comparison with the growing industrialization needs. For example, if one would like to replace the EPR nuclear reactor that is situated in Normandy, France, with modern wind turbines of the same height as the Notre Dame de Paris (that is about 35 meters) , one would have to line the turbines up all the way from Barcelona in Spain to Genoa in Italy. And even then, the energy produced would reach 25% of the reactor’s rated capacity, and such turbines would generate electricity only when the wind blows. Indeed, with the increasing number of population there is a high demand for energy that would not deplete, because the available limited resources cause the pollution.
It is clear that a reliable source of energy is crucial for any economy to thrive. Commercial civilization should steer a course to ensure there is a continuous flow of power so as to maximize the production and hence the profits. In my view, it is more logical to adopt a reliable source of power like the nuclear one, which is also inexhaustible, than to rely on alternative sources like wind turbines, which totally depend on wind and during calm weather no power is generated.
Nuclear Energy Offers a Clean Source of Energy
Nuclear energy is clean energy. Nuclear power plants produce almost no greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and others. In 2006, American businesses and consumers spent an estimated amount of $921 billion on fossil fuels that led to negative impact as 98% of emitted gases were greenhouse ones. The type of fuel used was rich in lead that affected mostly brain development of children and young people, thus lowering their intelligence quotient. Fossil fuels led to warming in America, thus creating a lot of catastrophic events affecting humans and other living creatures. Clean energy that nuclear power plants provide leaves the environment clean and livable.
From my point of view, considering the overall impact of fossil fuels usage in order to run our businesses and industries, there is a great need to eliminate the sources of power that affect our health, because without good health we will not be able to run our industries. Clean energy is vital, as the impact of fossil fuel becomes evident and might be felt by many generations to come, as it can alter the genetic code that is passed down to the offspring. Therefore it is to our benefit to incorporate nuclear energy into the energy production scheme.
Nuclear Power’s Waste Products are Easier to Dispose
Considering waste products, nuclear ones are easier to dispose of in comparison with other sources of energy, like coal. For example, a gram of uranium is equivalent to a ton of oil or coal and usually is considered as the “factor of a million”. The nuclear waste produced is almost a million times smaller than that of coal, and is safely confined. Since the early 1950s, the USA and Sweden have used nuclear energy and stored away the waste. In the integrated areas, about 3% of the waste products are safely confined in special structures to prevent leaking radioactivity. Also, 97% products of plutonium and uranium are recycled and formed into new products to produce more energy. If we took for example a French family consuming nuclear energy for a lifetime, the amount of waste produced would be the size of a golf ball. At the same time, the nuclear energy waste, while deposited in storage tanks, does not penetrate into the biosphere, and its effect on the environment is minimal. Nuclear wastes decay with time forming a stable chemical substance like mercury and arsenic.. Therefore, the amount of waste produced by nuclear energy is much smaller than that of fossil fuels.
The issue of waste products is one of those that are left unattended in many industries, so we end up accumulating heaps of fossil wastes, which later decompose and release greenhouse gases. Continuing such a trend, the Earth’s ozone layer would be totally depleted and it would be accompanied with a lot of catastrophes. Getting small amounts of waste from nuclear power that can be easily stored causing no harm to the environment and to humans, is a golden opportunity to seize.
Nuclear Power is Safe
Safety is one of major concerns that one should consider while choosing energy sources. The year 2013 was marked by a lot of oil explosions, oil spills, and landslides that led to the death of 20 coal miners in the USA alone. Another disaster occurred on 29th March, 2013 when an ExxoMobil pipeline transporting heavy crude oil of Canadian Wabasca from the Athabasca oil sands ruptured and major oil spillage was experienced in Mayflower, Arkansas. 210,000 gallons of oil gushed into the neighboring streets leading to the evacuation of 22 homes. Another accident was experienced in Canada on 20th May, 2013, when underground areas of tar sands leaked and there was spillage in Alberta for five months non-stop. The responsible company was ordered to drain the whole lake so as to clean its bottom. That could not solve the problem as more than 403,900 gallons of bitumen had already spilled over the surrounding boreal forest and the acidic and marshy soils remain until now the evidence of the catastrophe.
On the contrary, nuclear energy is safe power, which is proven by a record of half a century of its massive usage, with more than 12,000 reactor-years. Only two serious incidents of industrial consumption of nuclear energy have been reported. One at Three Mile Island in 1979 in Pennsylvania, USA and the other in Chernobyl in 1986 in the former Soviet Union, current Ukraine. The TMI was the worst accident of all times in the history of western nuclear energy utilization. It was caused by the meltdown, which crushed the bottom of the reactor. Fortunately, radioactivity that was released was confined within the reinforced concrete air-tight structure that was designed for such emergencies.
There are no personnel that would agree to work in an area prone to disasters. Workers and residents of such areas would fear losing their lives and hence their productivity would decline. In my opinion, nuclear energy provides safe power, and, as seen from the previous paragraph, that provides a conducive working environment and also causes no pollution. A nuclear plant, being situated far away from residential areas, offers ample time to handle any incident before worse consequences are experienced.
Regardless of how much benefit nuclear energy brings to the industries and also to the environment, there are a few old-fashioned views and attitudes towards nuclear power. Some ecological bodies such as Greenpeace have been in constant opposition to nuclear energy based on biased opinions that are more ideological than factual. A large number of environmentalists are now changing their attitudes towards nuclear energy, considering it as economical, scientific, solid and, above all, environmentally friendly. It is our duty to conserve our ecosystem and make the Earth livable amidst the growing industrial civilization. A well-designed and maintained nuclear plant is not only environmentally clean, but also reliable, durable, competitive and safe. With incorporation of nuclear energy we will be able to save our environment and wildlife as we improve our lives through a clean environment by avoiding the catastrophes brought about by the greenhouse effect.