I have continued to debate with proponents of using Nuclear Fission power plants to meet increasing energy demands. I stumbled upon this website and found their FOR and AGAINST argument lists to sum it up pretty nicely — http://www.willyoujoinus.com/discussion/topics/?d=23&gclid=CMvrmuGAmJ8CFRAeDQod7mI1NQ
Here’s their list followed by the question they pose. I would add to the critics list that while nuclear power reduces the world’s dependence on oil and natural gas, it simply replaces that with a dependence on the various hard-to-find fuels for nuclear power which are also finite. Renewable energy harnessing is the only way that will work as long as the sun exists. Why wait? We’re simply prolonging the inevitable which is running out of fuel for our quick and dirty solutions.
Supporters of nuclear power cite the benefits:
- Zero greenhouse gas emissions during generation
- Nuclear power reduces the world’s dependence on oil (though less than 10% of global electricity generation uses oil as its fuel base)3, as well as natural gas
- Air quality improvements, as nuclear plants do not emit many of the pollutants that fossil fuel based plants emit
- The relatively low cost of nuclear fuel and operations
- The safety record of nuclear operations: over the last decade, experience with nuclear power plants prove they can be operated safely and reliably
Critics of nuclear power often cite the risks:
- Accidents such as Chernobyl are so dangerous to people, communities and natural resources that even one major incident is unacceptable
- Nuclear waste remains deadly for tens of thousands of years, and a proper long-term solution to its management has not yet been developed
- Nuclear plants pose an attractive target to terrorists, and even nuclear waste could be used against populations in the wrong hands
- The proliferation risks associated with civil nuclear programs are unacceptably high and could present a grave national security threat
- The economics of new nuclear generation are uncertain (primarily due to the very high – and often underestimated – cost of construction and operating liability which is uninsurable by private means), most often requiring government support to make new plants financially viable
So do the benefits outweigh the risks? Can the risks be sufficiently managed? And how do we balance local issues with the global concerns over energy security?