Nuclear power is not a viable path forward, but rather a giant leap backwards

by mcaponci on Novembre 29, 2016 - 3:27pm

With climate change at the forefront of most environmental discussions, scientists have taken it upon themselves to seek out a viable path forward towards achieving our climate targets by 2050. Clean energy and a move towards decarbonization has been distinguished as the most urgent task. Scientists conclude that through the use in nuclear power, whole civilizations can be powered and carbon emissions can be dramatically lowered. Nuclear power is being characterized as environmentally advantageous in comparison to alternative for of energy. Scientists have highlighted nuclear energy as a factor that will determine the future state of our planet.

 

Although there are degrees of validity within the article, the scientists neglected to mention the sheer cost of nuclear energy. Not only has nuclear power consistently increased in price over time, but the cost to set up nuclear power plants is astronomical, with the potential to cost governments billion of dollars. Given that 50% of nuclear plant projects fail before they are even completed, it is clear that not only is this energy risky but it is also incredibly expensive. Comparatively, renewable energy has shown a steady decline in price, making it much more cost efficient and undoubtedly much more environmentally friendly.

 

Scientists have highlighted that nuclear energy is clean and environmentally advantageous compared to alternatives. The radioactive waste that is created during the nuclear fuel process has the potential to destroy surrounding environments and impact human health if it is not properly controlled. Within the process of creating nuclear energy, uranium is an essential part of the process as it is often used as the fuel to produce nuclear energy. The process of extracting uranium from the earth have had widespread and severe health and environmental impacts. Furthermore, it is also responsible for the displacement of many indigenous groups as some groups have land claims that sit atop bast uranium reserves. Nuclear energy's dependency on uranium is responsible for the health and environmental implications as well as the displacement issues that have come as a result of uranium extraction. 

 

Nuclear power is characterized as a reliable source of energy that has the potential to power entire civilizations. Looking back over the history of nuclear energy and the various plants that have opened and operated, nuclear power does not function as a reliable source of energy. When you consider the various nuclear accidents that have occurred including Fukushima, Tokaimura, and Chernobyl, it is estimated that at least one massive nuclear accident will occur every 25 years. Given the fact that Fukushima alone cost over 257 billion dollars to recover from, the risk and cost associated with nuclear power far outweigh the reliability of nuclear power. With power plants constantly shutting down for safety issues, the high failure rate of nuclear projects, the long term health and environmental risks that radioactive waste and uranium extraction pose, it is clear that nuclear power is not a viable path forward, but rather a giant leap backwards. 

 

News Article Link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/03/nuclear-power-paves-...

 

References:

 

Kinsella, W. J. (2012). Environments, risks, and the limits of representation: Examples from nuclear energy and some implications of Fukushima. Environmental Communication, 6(2), 251–259. doi:10.1080/17524032.2012.672928

Rabl, A., & Rabl, V. A. (2013). External costs of nuclear: Greater or less than the alternatives? Energy Policy, 57, 575–584. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2013.02.028