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The Pros and Cons When Discussing the Use of Nuclear Energy

Demand for electricity is rising and the burning of fossil fuel is climbing to dangerous levels. One half of pollutions is caused by coal, gas and oil burning power plants. Carbon dioxide is made by burning coal as well as producing radioactive material. Power plants that run with coal releases more radiation into the air than a nuclear power plant. Fossil fuels are running low and the coal many plants use now is sulfurous which causes more pollution than ever before. With nuclear power there are many cons and more cons than fossil fuels. Renewable energy seems to be the answer, but government bureaucracy has yet to actively increase its use. Renewable energy accounts for only 8%, nuclear power 9% and an incredible 80% for fossil fuels with coal burning amounting to half of the 80% (Smith, pg. 3). Why do so many believe the alternative of nuclear power is the answer? And with “fracking” being a hotly debated topic in the United States nuclear power doesn’t seem to be the answer either. In the article by Jeffrey M. Smith, “The Pro and Cons of Nuclear Power”, he cites one pro and four cons for nuclear power. The pro being carbon-free electricity and the cons being risk of catastrophe, long lived nuclear waste, cost and the problems with the mining of uranium. The cons outweigh the pros disproportionately. The two main focus points discussed in this paper will be cost and the mining of uranium.

The phrase, “Nuclear power plants are known for being expensive to build, but relatively cheap to run” (Smith, pg. 2), is deceptive. Its correct when saying the plants are expensive to build because it costs over $10 billion, but cheap to run is a lie. The only reason it is cheap to run is because of government subsidies they receive. This allows the companies that own these reactors to basically offer lower costs to the consumer to corner the market on energy. The U.S. Government has had to back these plants for over 50 years and these subsidies are from taxes consumers pay making nuclear power very costly to consumers and government. In the event of a disaster the costs would be astronomical. In a Jamestown Community College report on pros related to cost it gave that the technology was already in use or available and the ability to make vast amounts of electricity. The cons listed on the same report listed mainly health concerns such as, higher rates of fatalities related to the industry, immediate death and or injury in the event of a meltdown and lethal doses of hazardous waste that could last 12,00 human generations. Uranium might be cheap and more powerful to use and uranium itself isn’t bad, but health and environment issues far outweigh that pro of using nuclear energy. Mining “waste” is the main problem, “The chief danger lies with the mining waste; it contains radium, which is highly radioactive” (Smith, pg. 3). Health risks associated with this is lung cancer, bone cancer and lymphoma (for just a few examples if that isn’t enough). Costs related to heath are also a con with no visible pros and the mining of the main ingredient of nuclear power is the problem for both issues.

There are way too many cons than pros when discussing nuclear energy. Using and implementing of renewable energy is key to survival of the globe as well as life on this planet. The environmental benefits include that they are a clean source of energy for health as well as having a lower impact on the environment. The energy sources we use more today will disappear. Costs of these changes are far outweighed by what bringing renewable energy to the world will do. By switching and working on this switch we will be bringing jobs and will help fuel the economy. Health for humans and the environment will improve lowering healthcare costs. Investments for renewable energy will be spent on materials and work to build and maintain these new facilities, saving on costly nuclear plants, mining uranium and even imports. The money spent on this will be spent mainly here in the United States and help the economy of states and communities more. Keeping jobs local and stimulate local economy, rather than going to huge companies with many that are overseas. The technology of renewable energy that is built here in the United States can be sold overseas and give the trade deficit a boost. Really with nuclear energy production basically on hold, “..since 2008, plans to build reactors in nine US states have been put on hold..” (Smith, pg. 2), consumers should push renewable energy. There are definitely more pros than cons.

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