Over the past century, the world has been undergoing a change in its climate that will make living on this planet much more difficult and costly. On top of having a mountain of evidence that the climate is warming and that it is caused by human activity, 198 scientific national and international organizations concur this notion, with no other organizations opposing.
The real issue to this problem, however, is that most people see certain energy sources, such as solar and wind, as more reliable and functional compared to what nuclear energy has to offer.
The problem with solar and wind is that although they are renewable energy sources, the source of energy to which they obtain it is not always constant. Furthermore, solar and wind require huge amounts of infrastructure to connect them to users. Not to mention the negative environmental impacts of mining for battery materials and the disposal of batteries. The wind takes up huge amounts of space that clear cuts forests and have been problematic for killing a large number of birds. Billions of tons of hydrocarbons have been used to make the number of windmills around the world, while only a small percentage is available at the moment.
Tens of billions of dollars in subsidies have been given to solar companies, while the energy source only makes up >1% of our energy consumption.
Nuclear energy is the best way to go for our country. First off, it has been around for decades, works extremely well, and as safe. Although people will point to disasters such as Fukushima, the irony is that they are proof of how safe these plants are. Although no one was killed, it was the fear of radiation that killed people via evacuation… plus no one could’ve predicted a 9.0 magnitude act of god situation. The disaster at Chernobyl was the result of incredibly stupid decisions and design. On the night of the disaster, the manager had willingly cut corners and ignored all safety precautions to meet a quota on a safety test that didn’t even need to happen. More people have died of installing solar panels on rooftops than in the entire history of nuclear power in the US. France gets 70% of its energy from nuclear and pays one of the lowest rates of electricity costs in Europe.
Most of our nuclear waste can actually be used again in different reactor designs with little reprocessing. And meltdowns, with many advanced reactor technologies, is physically impossible… with proliferation also being impossible with the absence of transuranic in advanced reactors. In fact, there isn’t even any uranium in many of these new reactors.
The more you study this energy source, the more you realize that it is one of the most powerful and valuable technologies with very low risks. Although thousands may have been killed by a nuclear power incident, millions have been killed by the noxious soot and excess carbon dioxide of fossil fuel which, especially coal, emit way more radiation than nuclear power plants. Globally, coal has a death rate over 1,000 times that of nuclear power per unit of power produced. Oil is at 500 times the death rate of nuclear per unit of power produced. Even natural gas’s death rate is 44 times that of nuclear per unit of power produced. The biomass death rate is at over 250 times that of the same unit of nuclear power. Need I say more?
What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has proposed in her “Green New Deal” does sound great to most Americans. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the best path to go on. By completely ignoring the benefits that nuclear energy has to offer and only going with the wind and solar, Americans who are poorer and less well off will be more harshly affected by such policies as most of their budget goes towards these costs. Instead, we should be making informed decisions rather than having to pay the consequences based on our gut-feeling.