Politics & Society Columnist
Nuclear energy is created through a controlled nuclear explosion in which there is a splitting of atomic nuclei or by forcing the nuclei of atoms together. Today in the U.S. there are 104 operating commercial nuclear plants. This number does not include research facilities nor does it include government reactors operated by the Military or Department of Energy. There are over 400 nuclear power plants in the world. Nuclear energy generates less than 10% of the world’s energy while it generates almost 20% of the energy here in the U.S.
Nuclear energy produces lower amounts of carbon dioxide and other green house gases compared to fossil fuels. Nuclear energy has relatively low operating costs and this technology is already readily available. It is also possible to generate a large amount of energy in a single plant. Nuclear energy is mainly used to generate electricity. Lately we have heard many of the positives of nuclear energy because it is cleaner than fossil fuels. The cons of nuclear energy have been overshadowed by the push for cleaner technology.
As much as politicians talk about how safe the industry has made nuclear energy there are still large expected and unexpected risks involved. The horror currently unfolding in Japan with the meltdown of their reactors caused by a 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami, reminds us of the dangers of nuclear energy. When disasters occur the consequences are devastating. After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 millions were exposed to radiation. The data suggests hundreds of thousands died, there were chromosomal aberrations, a spike of down syndrome in babies, and a rise in disease and cancer. Nuclear plants could also serve as easy targets for anyone wanting to harm a people or a nation.
When talking about nuclear energy no one ever mentions its nasty byproduct radioactive waste, stored deep within the Earth. It must be carefully handled for many thousands of years and is highly dangerous to people, animals and the environment. Radioactive waste is also used for the production of nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy is not considered a renewable technology because its main ingredient is Uranium which is expected to last only a few more decades. Why push for nuclear energy when we only have a few decades of Uranium left and it takes anywhere from 20 to 30 years to properly build a nuclear facility.
Renewable technology is here and advances in technology are allowing it to become cheaper and more available. Renewable energy comes from natural resources that naturally replenish such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat. The environmental impact of using renewable energy is lower than that of nuclear energy, coal, gas or any other fossil fuel. Humanity is at an important crossroad. We are at the point of no return and if we do not start to wean off non renewable energy humanity will push itself to the brink of extinction.
So what can you do? Educate yourself, politicians love to play with words and twist them around to sound good when they may not serve in your interests. Write, email, fax or call your congress person. Join an anti nuclear coalition such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth International or Campaign for nuclear weapons free world. Look into purchasing or using renewable energy to power your home. Reduce your carbon footprint and be more considerate to future generations and the environment. Don’t know how? Check out some tips here: http://www.carbonfootprint.
A nuclear free world awaits us if we decide to make our voices heard. You do have a voice and you can change the world. A future free of pollution, filled with renewable technology to decrease our carbon footprint while making the world safer, awaits us if we choose it. This is not an issue to be ignored or passed on. Unless you want a nuclear waste site behind your yard or a nuclear plant facility by your home, take the action and make your voice heard. The future is here and now, you decide.
Peace and Love,
About the Columnist
With a bachelors degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University, Christina Fermin has always cultivated her love for history, politics, sociology, ancient knowledge and teachings, the outdoors, the ocean and the environment. Christina strives to make our world better by helping us all create a new reality and understanding of all taking place here and now.