Contemporary World Issues

NUCLEAR POWER: 

the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY



This map shows the sites of nuclear power plants around the world. Nuclear power provides 20% of the electricity used in America today.

The GOOD of Nuclear Power

Some argue that nuclear power can only benefit the world in general. Sure, there are some setbacks and obstacles, but there are many reasons that the amount of nuclear power producing plants, in the U.S. especially should go up immediately.

Most pro-nuclear power folks bring out one of the most important factors in our economy today: the U.S’ dependence on foreign oil, and its ever-fluctuating prices that have driven some out of house and home. With more nuclear power plants, this dependence would ultimately disappear, and the U.S. would be left out of sticky situations with foreign oil tycoons.

Another argument in favor of nuclear power is the United States’ uranium abundance. This valuable ore plays a major role in nuclear power production, and its "harvesting" is fairly simple. With plentiful resources in our own soil, why aren’t we recognizing its potential in terminating our dependency on other countries’ non-renewable resources?

And when faced with the ever-burning safety issue, pro-nuclear power-ists have tricks up their sleeves: the problem of unsafe nuclear power plants has already been solved. The nuclear industry has improved safety regulations vigorously since the incidents at
Three Mile Island as well as Chernobyl. Thicker protective walls around plants as well as other safety precautions have already been met, and the civilian nuclear industry is still improving its procedures as well as equipment.

Many believe nuclear power is the Holy Grail of energy. The U.S. for has ignored this hushed form of power too long, and some believe it’s about time to change that.


The BAD of Nuclear Power

For some, nuclear power is a major no-no. While few agree that there are some perks, most believe it’s a dangerous alternative power option that should not be implemented. With numerous safety issues, a disturbing history, and an unstable future, anti-nuclear power supporters have a strong argument against this potentially harmful source.

The most prominent opposition to the development of nuclear power plants is the safety of the surrounding areas. With threats of damage to the environment as well as individuals caused by radiation, those that oppose nuclear power have substantial evidence of malevolent effects caused by nuclear power plant catastrophes. One such example is Chernobyl, a nuclear power plant that malfunctioned in the Ukraine in 1986. This unfortunate incident killed 28 people over a short period and 19 subsequently. Anti-nuclear power-ists use Chernobyl as a promise that nuclear power plants have killed and will continue to kill.

Another argument against the nuclear power question is the amount of alternative energy forms that are cheaper and safer than nuclear energy. Although adequate research is required to make some of these alternate forms less of a dream and more of a reality, examples such as hybrid cars, wind and solar power, and other forms of efficient energy solutions are become more and more popular. While the alternate energy demand is becoming more serious, those that oppose nuclear power don’t feel that nuclear energy is the last solution.


...and last, but not least, the UGLY

So what does all of this mean to me? Both sides present good arguments. Being a Democrat, I'm inclined to oppose nuclear energy as a means to power our country. But nuclear power does have its promises. I'm just not convinced that's it's fully reliable yet.

I believe that nuclear power could one day be a very safe and stable, cheap and highly accessible. Safety measures could be raised to perfection, and adequate equipment could be put in place for a potential malfunction. I feel like research could be done over the next decade to bring the country to believe that nuclear power was a safe and reliable source of power.

I do believe, however, that the people should decide. A vote should take place in order to leave the final choice of establishing nuclear plants across the country to the people themselves. This would allow proper campaigns to be built supporting or opposing the nuclear power question.

I am also worried that environmental racism would play a large part of the decision involving where to place the new plants. As few want large, unattractive nuclear power plants in their backyards, I'm afraid the only place the government would be able to put them would be in low-income communities. This would create a large deal of controversy, which might bring back the question of whether or not these plants are entirely beneficial to the community, let alone the country as a whole.

I am opposed to nuclear power as a means to power our nation right now. I feel like America has enough issues to focus on at the moment, but I would like to see research done in order to provide a better, more stable argument for nuclear power as a prominent alternative energy source in the years to come.


Sources

Nuclear Power Map: "Maps of Nuclear Power Reactors: WORLD MAP." International Nuclear Safety Center. Argonne National Laboratory. http://www.insc.anl.gov/pwrmaps/map/world_map.php

The GOOD of Nuclear Power: Huber, Peter W., Mills, Mark P. "Why the U.S. Needs More Nuclear Power." City Journal. Winter 2005. http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_1_nuclear_power.html
 
The BAD of Nuclear Power:
"Ten Strikes Against Nuclear Power." Climate Action: Economic Action to Stop Global Warming. Co-op America. http://www.coopamerica.org/


Video: "First Nuclear Power Plant Opens (Newsreel 1957)." May 31, 2008. Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6mWIKy7eqo

Soundbyte: "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly- Intro (Opening Theme). Bayern Munich. Imeem. http://www.imeem.com/people/hi_0lX/music/ocIkt_D1/


Google Images were used in this website for educational purposes only.








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