Compare and contrast nuclear energy Essay
Thirty years ago, energy in the nuclear form was futuristic and an exotic technology. It was the basic subject of all the experiments at the time and science considered it as fiction. Currently, however this source of energy is the second largest in America seconded by coal. Over one hundred and ten nuclear plants provide much more power compared to natural gas or even hydro power, (Paul I., 2003).
Benefits of nuclear energy
The following benefits are realized from the use of nuclear energy
Use of nuclear energy largely replaces the combustion of large quantities of fossil fuels. This dramatically reduces the consequent negative effects on the environment.
Nuclear energy produces the largest percentage of the electric power that fuels the economy. The energy boosts new technologies in the industries and this contributes to an increase in the gross national product as well as increased competitiveness globally.
The production of nuclear energy reduces the dependency on foreign oil through importation from overseas suppliers of oil. This indeed reduces on the trade deficit.
The detriments of nuclear energy
This form of energy is generated by a controlled chain of nuclear reaction. This reaction boils water producing steam which in turns the steam turbines, (Murray R.1994). This form of reaction has some associated detriments as discussed below;
1. Accidents- The core meltdown on overheating produces radiation that contaminates the environment with material that is radioactive, this is hazardous to people as it is cancerous. That results to accidents.
2. Waste- The waste from the generation of nuclear waste contains radiations which on decaying become harmful. Up to date, no method has been devised to hasten the decay rate or even separate the radioactive material from the waste.
3. Uranium- Nuclear energy depends on uranium for its sustainability in generation. Unfortunately, there is a not sufficient quantity of this element to continuously power the nuclear plants. Alternative reactors are very expensive and quite slow.
4. Weapons- this creates a lot of fear in regard to the possible generation of weapons and it’s a great disadvantage. For every year of existence, a nuclear plant is capable of producing plutonium that is enough to build more than thirty nuclear bombs. The plants therefore must be well secured to ensure that the do not get in the wrong hands.
Ethical issues involved with nuclear energy
A. For the inventors
Regardless of how good and noble the intentions of the inventors are, it is very unethical to promote the generation and consumption of such a harmful technology. The inventors have to own up to the ethical responsibility for leading to human suffering, death and extensive damage to the environment, (Oppenheimer, Robert, 2000).
B. For the power companies
There is a very high risk to the workers and the general public resulting from the production of nuclear energy. However, this is still debatable since it is argued that the use of plants that are fired by coal is likely to cause more deaths.
C. For the users
Nuclear energy is dangerous and hazardous when exposed to living tissue, the radiations move through various pathways in to the environment. These include the food chain, the atmosphere and water. The radioactive material may find their way to the human body through the skin, inhalation, and ingestion among other pathways. It is unethical to expose the end users to such risks and health hazards, (Trudeau, P.2001).
How the argument for using nuclear energy differ from the argument for using leaded gasoline
The generation of leaded gasoline had previously been considered close to depletion, however today it has been confirmed that this kind of fuel is increasingly becoming abundant and sustainable especially as the international markets liberalize, technology improves and more so as investment expands. On the other hand, for nuclear energy sources to attain this degree of success, in today’s competitive marketplaces, it will be vital to step up their technology, (Pentreath, R.J., 1999).
The generation of nuclear energy is a new technology and it has received various reactions from all side of the globe. Though it is deemed advantageous and quite beneficial, nuclear energy is also detrimental and hazardous especially during its generation and from the resulting waste. Various ethical issues arise in regard to the generation and use of nuclear energy and it has all been discussed above.
Paul, I., (2003), Energy and the Environment, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.
Murray, R. (1994), Understanding Radioactive Waste, Battlelle Press, Columbus, Ohio.
Oppenheimer, Robert, (2000), The Open Mind, Simon and Schuster, New York.
Pentreath, R.J., (1999), Nuclear Power, Man and the Environment, Taylor and Francis LTD, London.
Trudeau, P. (2001), Energy for a Habitable World, Crane Russak, New York.