Honors Chemistry - Period 6
23 November 2014
A Game Changer or Simply a Danger?
With every choice, there is a fine line between making progress and losing everything one has worked for. The use of nuclear energy is the very epitome of this. While it provides an alternative to the energy sources we use today, nuclear power comes with great risks that can take a lot to fix. However, I believe that with the proper precautions in place, we should continue the use of nuclear energy because the advantages it brings outweigh its drawbacks greatly. Nuclear power plants generate about 12.3% of the world’s electricity,1 generally using Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239 for the nuclear fission process, which involves an atom splitting …show more content…
Our constant use of fossil fuels, the most prominent alternative to nuclear energy, is a detriment to this planet. If we continue on with releasing approximately 730 tons of carbon dioxide per second,14 rising sea levels due to global warming will eventually swallow up small islands, melt icebergs, and push arctic animals to endangerment or extinction. People often fail to realize the deleterious long-term effects of global warming, which can be avoided with more efficient sources of power. Nuclear energy emits little carbon dioxide, no nitrogen oxides, and no sulfur oxide, and it is much more efficient. “Just one uranium fuel pellet [...] contains the same amount of energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil.”15 Not only is uranium more efficient, but there is much larger supply of it than there is of natural gases and oil, which are estimated to run out within decades. Although there is still an abundant supply of coal, its supply is likely to decrease at a faster rate than it does presently with the dwindling of other fossil fuels. Many may argue that the nuclear disasters that can occur as a result of nuclear power generation are far more destructive than global warming is. While these events are undeniably devastating, they can be prevented with the proper precautions and research. The power plant in Chernobyl had a faulty design and an unstable reactor. We can learn from this and improve with future power plants, knowing what to avoid doing. These major incidents have left their marks on the world, but the coal mine and oil field accidents that occur much more regularly have cumulated far more fatalities -- about 15,000 worldwide per year.14 For these reasons, uranium and plutonium are much better energy sources than fossil fuels