Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Powering Our World - Environmental Impact of Nuclear Power

Hi Guys!

Sorry it's taken me so long to post something, I'm currently taking a C++ class that is sucking up all of my time. However, this crisis in Japan has gotten me thinking about creating power and how that affects our environment. This is probably going to be very basic as I don't know much yet about the different types of power, but we've gotta start somewhere in talking about what we **know**.

So...The first form of power I wanted to look at is, of course, nuclear power. It seems there is a divide between whether it's safe or not and the impression I get is that it's a pretty big divide. Fun Fact: the US produces the most nuclear energy making up 19% of all its power output and has 140 nuclear power plants. Not surprising as we Americans are used to having the most of everything. ;-)  However, France produces most of it's electricity - 80% - with nuclear plants. Ouch.

The pro-nuclear stance , argue that nuclear power produces a very low amount of air pollution that leads to greenhouse gasses or smog. That also makes it sustainable. Another pro argument is that the risks of storing waste are small and even smaller in light of new technologies in newer plants.

And, to be honest, nuclear safety is a trending pretty high on the positive with the only really big disaster being Chernobyl (so far). Though, if this power plant in Japan becomes a bigger disaster, I think that would be slightly different because they did suffer a 9.0 earthquake. I mean, c'mon...they also had oil refineries blowing up all over the place too. I don't think much would be safe from this type of threat. Though luckily, it's a rare occurrence.

The anti-nuclear view, conversely, asserts that nuclear power does pose serious human and environmental health risks. Transport, storage and disposal of nuclear waste is toxic and the contents can sometimes still be highly radioactive. Some argue that disposal of nuclear waste cannot be achieved 100% safely - with careless disposal polluting lakes, rivers, oceans and land. Lastly nuclear power plants are expensive to build which trickles down to make the energy actually rather expensive.

At this point, I am torn between supporting and condemning nuclear power. I mean, I have seen visible proof of what coal does (did) to buildings in Europe and older parts of America. I can't imagine putting all that black stuff out there wouldn't hurt the atmosphere so the prospect of nuclear power producing virtually no emissions, is attractive.

However, big accidents are just as bad, if not worse, as slow rates of pollution. You know...I can't really make a case against nuclear power right now. I just don't know enough and I can't really come up with a good alternative without doing more research.

Please weigh in with your thoughts. =)
I wanted to post a video talking about nuclear power but the only one I've found so far is a Fox News one and I just can't stand behind the quality of their broadcasting. So, if anyone knows of a good one, please let me know!

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