Nuclear Power is the controlled use of nuclear reactions to release energy for work including propulsion, heat, and the generation of electricity. Human use of nuclear power to do significant useful work is currently limited to nuclear fission and radioactive decay. Nuclear energy is produced when a fissile material, such as uranium-235 (235U), is concentrated such that nuclear fissionb takes place in a controlled chain reaction and creates heat — which is used to boil water, produce steam, and drive a steam turbine. The turbine can be used for mechanical work and also to generate electricity. Nuclear power is used to power most military submarines and aircraft carriers and provides 7% of the world's energy and 15.7% of the world's electricity.
Nuclear power: Its opponents decry it as the most dangerous power source on Earth. But is it really that bad?
“We’re all gonna die!” they say. “Remember Chernobyl and Three Mile Island!” Opponents of nuclear power claim nuclear power plants aren’t safe; there could be an explosion or waste could leak out, they say. Besides Chernobyl, only ~213 people have died from a nuclear accident. Meanwhile, diesel exhaust causes 21,000 deaths a year, asthma, and cancer according to a report by the Clean Air Task Force. Nuclear power is not dangerous to the public. Most of the fears regarding nuclear power are overblown.
Nuclear Power: Just As Bad As Fossil Fuels?
Uh-oh, more science! Creationists cover your eyes! Nuclear power works like this: Nuclear fission produces heat, which is used to boil water to create steam and drive a steam turbine.
Steam is water vapor, the most common greenhouse gas on Earth. So, do nuclear power plants contribute to global warming and the enhanced greenhouse effect? The simple answer is no.
The air can only hold so much water. This is called “saturation”. Water vapor contributes to 60% of the natural greenhouse effect. Because the atmosphere can only hold so much water, water vapor does not contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Therefore, nuclear power does not directly contribute to global warming. Indirectly, it does. For example,
electric generators used in nuclear power plants require gasoline.
So, Is Nuclear Power Good or Bad?
Nuclear power, if used carefully, could power most of the world’s energy needs. Of course, it wouldn’t be able to power all needs (i.e. cars). France can be a role model—80% of energy consumed there is nuclear. In contrast, 20% of energy consumed in the U.S. is nuclear. Nuclear energy, along with other non-fossil fuels could power the future.
What do you think?
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