Advantages of Nuclear Power
We are all, on some level, aware of the potential dangers of nuclear power, but what about the advantages?
Fossil Fuels and the Environment
Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. The 10 warmest years in recorded history have occurred in the last 15 years. The burning of fossil fuels disperses 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide into
the air each year. At this rate the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere will double this century.
The Need for a Large Alternative Power Source
Energy conservation is important, but we cannot go backwards.
The world's population is growing exponentially. More than half of the people who ever lived are alive today! More energy will be needed as the population continues to grow and as living standards are raised in poor
countries. All of this means that industrialized nations will need to cut emissions to about one third of current rates in order to stabilize the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Nuclear's Capacity to Create Electricity
Energy options that do not emit greenhouse gases include nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. However, projections indicate that with continued subsidy and
research support, all of these except nuclear combined will provide only 2.3% of the world's electricity. Even with a landscape covered with solar panels and windmills, there will still need to be a large-scale
electrical source to meet most of our energy needs. The International Energy Agency and the World Energy Council both say they see no realistic scenario for meeting this need without a sharp increase in nuclear energy.
It is also worth mentioning that the number of deaths attributable to nuclear power reactor accidents is dwarfed by those caused by the mining and combustion of fossil fuels. The only total meltdown of a
nuclear power plant was at Chernobyl and it killed 31 people, mostly firefighters. Another 2,000 developed thyroid cancer, but most cases were successfully treated. There has been no indication of an increase in other
types of cancer, but it is estimated that there will be 3,000 late-in-life cancer deaths.
Obviously, the disaster at Chernobyl was horrific, but compare that to deaths related to fossil fuels. 16,000 people die
each year from coal mining accidents and natural gas explosions and 3 million
people die each year from air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Clearly, there are very serious dangers related to those industries as well.
For more info visit the World Nuclear Association at
The Future of Nuclear Power
has seen some advances over the last 15 years since Chernobyl, and perhaps it's time to carefully re-evaluate its possible role in our energy policies. The decisions we make now will have a long-lasting effect on our
world and it is my hope that we will be educated enough to make the best possible decisions.