Should the United States Go Nuclear?

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Above, a nuclear power plant. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As the new year begins, the desire for electric power continues to skyrocket as an abundance of carbon emissions enter the atmosphere. Because of the decline of available fossil fuels, there is a growing need for an alternative source of power that does less harm to our Earth. This demand could lead to the proliferation of nuclear power plants.

Many have begun to wonder, is it time for America to begin building and investing in nuclear power plants on a larger scale?

Furthermore, nuclear plants are more efficient than most other sources of energy, which include wind turbines and solar energy. With fossil fuels and coal mining at the forefront of the power industry, greenhouse gasses and other harmful environmental factors that spew from these plants fill the planet with sky-high records of pollution. Therefore, nuclear plants seem to be one of the most reliable solutions to part of our global warming problem.

Among many other reasons, the creation of new nuclear plants could have an immensely positive effect on the environment. Unlike the standard fossil fuel and coal plants that provide the majority of our current power, nuclear plants do not release any carbon waste into the atmosphere; instead, they produce water steam. 

So why hasn’t the US seriously considered the creation of more remarkable nuclear plants?  To put it bluntly, the manufacturing of nuclear power plants is too expensive. However, no one shouldn’t put a cost on life. A large-scale change to nuclear energy will mean that our planet will remain a habitable location for humanity. Also, nuclear reactors are more efficient than most other power plants; in fact, a six-gram pebble of nuclear fuel can generate the amount of energy equivalent to an entire ton of coal.

Another issue with the creation of nuclear power plants is their lengthy construction time, which can take anywhere from ten to fifteen years. Since the number of jobs created to build each facility would be numerous, workers would have a steady job for years to come. Moreover, nuclear power plant facilities require more personnel to be on site than any other plant; this could increase the number of available jobs around the country.

Still, there are concerns about nuclear meltdowns and the effect of living within a certain radius of a power plant. There have been unforgettable incidents of malfunctioning plants like those in Japan and here in the United States, including the Fukushima Daiichi and the Three Mile High incidents, as well as the most famous one: Chernobyl, which has been the subject of many TV shows and movies.

Yet, these were caused by human error and natural disasters – like the tsunami and earthquake that caused the meltdown in Japan. Furthermore after years of studies, experts have not found any evidence that would point to the possibility of nuclear power plants causing any harmful side effects to those who live near them.  However, power plant malfunctions caused great physical trauma, birth defects, and contamination of the surrounding environment.

Thus, it seems clear that nuclear power plants are an investment well made for not only our country but also for the entire world and human race. Since the introduction of nuclear power plants in the late 1950s, scientists have developed a better understanding of resource usage, allowing them to analyze nuclear power in a whole new context. An example of their new discoveries include the ways to safely dispose of radioactive waste that is released from nuclear reactors; some of these methods include geological displacement and the reprocessing of nuclear waste. 

The pending alternative of nuclear power as a main resource for the United States will resurface constantly as global warming continues to develop. America should seriously look at nuclear power plants to provide safe and sustainable energy to each of its residents. In other words, to invest in nuclear plants would be to invest in the futures of ourselves and that of the many generations to come.

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