Persuasive Essay Nuclear Power Plants

Abstract
“Growing concerns over climate change have highlighted the need to step up contribution of nuclear energy in the energy mix and to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels in the years to come. This essay discusses some of the major advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy.”

Introduction
Nuclear energy represents only 15% of the electricity produced worldwide. Though in France, 80% of its electricity production is from nuclear energy and more than one-fourth of electricity in Europe comes from nuclear energy. Nuclear energy represents a very small percentage in many countries’ total electricity production, but this percentage is likely to go up in the coming years. Nuclear power is generated using Uranium, a mineral of which one of the isotopes, U- 234 is unstable. The nucleus breaks down resulting in the emission of heat and radiation followed by a chain reaction. This is called nuclear fission and this process liberates a large amount of energy, but the process also releases radiation which is very dangerous.

What are the Advantages of Nuclear Energy?

Clean Energy
Nuclear energy has the ability to produce electricity without greenhouse gas emissions. It produces electricity without pollution. It is cleaner than many other forms of energy production. Essentially, nuclear power would be “carbon-zero” if the uranium were mined and transported in a more efficient way.

High Quantities
Nuclear reaction releases a million times more energy, as compared to hydro or wind energy. Large quantity of energy is generated from a single nuclear power plant.

High Reserves
Nuclear reactors make use of uranium as fuel and produces huge amounts of energy from small amounts of uranium. The Earth has the high reserves of uranium. Current estimates put the uranium supply as enough to last for 30 to 60 years. Moreover other fuel cycles like Thorium are available for power generation. Whereas, oil reserves and other fossil type fuels are likely to run out shortly.

Reliability
Nuclear power plants operate reliably and have a continuous output of power.The plants do not generally face operations and maintenance problems. This is a contrast to other alternative energies which depend on the activity of the weather.

Low Operating cost
Although nuclear power reactors are expensive to build, they are relatively cheap to operate. Fuel is inexpensive and a plant can be operated by small number of people, approximately 10 people.

Concentration
The nuclear energy is by far the most concentrated form of energy, so it can be produced in large quantities over short periods of time.

Low Waste
Produces small amounts of waste and waste is more compact.

Cheap
Nuclear energy produces electricity at a competitive price and is generally comparable in output to coal plants.

Location
A nuclear plant is not dependant on local sources like oil and coal and can be set up in any part of the globe. It also does not require a lot of space and so can be placed in already developed areas and the power does not have to be transferred over long distances.

What are the Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear Weapons Threat
It has potential nuclear proliferation issues. Some reactors produce plutonium which can be used to make nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are a major threat to the world as they can cause a large-scale devastation.

High Capital Intensive
Nuclear Plants require a high level of technology and a major initial capital investment. Its abandonment cost is also very high.

Long Gestation Period
It takes a long time to build, about 15-20 years to develop a single plant.

Radioactive Waste
There are issues with management of radioactive waste. The spent fuel is highly radioactive and has to be carefully stored for many years after use. A solution to the waste management problem needs to be explored and developed. This has R&D cost.

Disasters, Accidents & Risk
An accident may cause a major disaster resulting in thousands of casualties and releasing high amounts of radiation into the environment, example: explosion of a reactor at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine and melting of the core of a reactor at Three-Mile Island in the United States.

Non-renewable energy
Nuclear energy is an alternative energy but not a renewable energy as Uranium is a non-renewable source and its supplies are limited.

Terrorism
Nuclear plants may be vunerable targets to anyone wanting to disrupt the power supply, and to have quite horrific results and to devastate an entire region.

Conclusion
Today, nuclear energy remains controversial. There are proponents and opponents of nuclear energy, but nuclear energy along with other green energies has a major role to play in years to come. The actions to mitigate the risk associated with nuclear energy need to given due importance to harness its full potential.

Filed Under: Climate Change, Environment, Nuclear Energy

Persuasive Essay on Nuclear Power

I know nuclear power is much in the news right now because of the recent accident in Japan, so many teachers are assigning persuasive essays on the topic of nuclear power. I've had two inquiries recently through my form for asking questions about essays. Here are some ideas for other persuasive essay topics. One student, in Illinois, asked "im writing a paper on why nuclear power plants are bad but im having trouble stating my points can you help me."

 I'd have to start by teaching him/her to write "I'm" instead of "im." Next, use a question mark.

So I decided to write a little sample persuasive essay. I thought this might be useful for those who are looking to find out how to structure a persuasive essay. The structure is pretty basic. You put in some of the arguments for your thesis; you put in some of the arguments against your thesis; and then you explain why the for arguments are better than the against arguments. Read through the sample persuasive essay to see how I do this.

First this sample persuasive essay needs an introduction. Visit my Five Great Ways to Write an Introduction page for some ideas on how to begin this essay. What follows is the body of this sample persuasive essay. By "sample" I mean: Don't copy this and hand it in as your work. These are some ideas for you to research and document. I could be full of s**t when it comes to reasoning about nuclear power. Get some quotes from experts to back up these statements.

But seriously, I can give many reasons to be opposed to nuclear power. But in a persuasive essay, you have to consider both sides. So let's look at the reasons why some people believe nuclear power is a good solution to the growing need for energy.

Reasons for nuclear power

Nuclear power creates no greenhouse gasses. The amount of CO2 has almost doubled in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Most scientists today believe that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is trapping heat and slowly causing the average global temperature to rise. Since heat is really a form of energy, the increased energy in the atmosphere is experienced by us not only in the form of higher temperatures, but also as more severe storms and extreme weather events. These are generally bad things. Burning coal and oil adds to greenhouse gasses. Nuclear power is a means of using the energy of radioactive decay, and thus does not burn coal or oil.

The sources of oil that we are using today are often either in difficult to reach places, such as undersea, or in the high Arctic. The oil extracted from these places is expensive. Oil from the middle east, or other places around the world may be a source of money for governments that are anti-democratic or corrupt. Oil from Canada's tar sands may have other environmental costs. Increasing the development of nuclear power may reduce the use of oil from all these sources. Unlike oil, uranium can be sourced in North America, bypassing the possibility of sending money to potentially unfriendly or unpleasant governments.

Reasons against nuclear power

Now that's about all the good stuff I can think of for nuclear power. In my opinion, there are many more reasons to be against nuclear power than to be for it. Before I specifically look at why I don't think the two arguments supporting nuclear power are valid, I will look at other arguments against nuclear power.

Nuclear power is not safe. In just over 30 years three major accidents have caught the world's attention. The most recent, Japan's Fukushima's reactor, is still ongoing. We do not yet know how many have or will die as a result of this disaster. But at Chernobyl, in 1986, hundreds died, and thousands were affected by radiation. The thing about radiation is that there is no safe level.

That doesn't mean we can be absolutely safe. We are exposed to radiation every day. Every place on the planet has natural background radiation. Radioactivity produces energy waves not unlike light waves from the sun. However, some forms of energy waves produced by radioactivity can pass through our bodies. Most of the time, this is harmless, but occasionally, an energy wave passing through a body can hit a strand of DNA, damaging the DNA. In some cases, this can cause the cell to become cancerous. Even sunlight can do this.

But obviously, the more someone is exposed to radiation, the more likely they are to suffer some bad consequences, like cancer. Therefore increasing the radioactivity in the air or water as a result of even tiny leaks from a nuclear power plant will increase the risk of people getting cancer. Often we can't even identify which people were harmed by a radioactive leak; all we can say is that statistically, the cancer rates went up.

Nuclear power is not economical either. Since the costs of a nuclear accident could be so high, insurance companies will not insure a nuclear power plant. Therefore the only organization that can insure a nuclear power plant is the government -- us. We are the insurers of all the nuclear power plants in our country. (Doesn't matter which country you live in.) The government of Japan will have to pay for all the cleanup and damages from the Fukushima accident. They are already raising taxes. The nuclear power industry is already subsidized; government grants, loan guarantees, and other incentives make nuclear power cheaper than it would be if the real costs were calculated. The costs of storing or disposing of wastes are not calculated either. Nuclear waste can be toxic for up to 240,000 years. It must be kept from leaking into the environment for that long. This is an unimaginable time scale from a human perspective.

Greenhouse gasses

Now, let's look at the greenhouse gas issue. Yes, it is true that nuclear plants do not use fossil fuels to generate electricity, as do coal plants, natural gas plants, or oil burning plants. But why not measure the CO2 produced during the many years it takes to build a nuclear power plant? Why not calculate the greenhouse gasses produced by mining, refining, and transporting uranium? These are substantial, as well.

A final thing that should be pointed out when writing about nuclear energy is about who is promoting it. Nuclear power is promoted by very big corporations. It is a very centralized form of energy production. Alternative energy sources are naturally more widely distributed. No one alternative source can answer all of the energy needs the way that oil or nuclear have tried to. Whether you are talking about solar power, wind power, geothermal power, tide power, or small hydroelectric projects, decentralized energy systems are more democratic because they don't require such vast concentrations of capital to come into play. It should be clear that if democracy is really our highest value (and aren't we constantly asking our young people to give up their lives to defend it?) then democracy in energy production should be our model.

What does this need to be a proper essay? For one, it needs some original research. Don't quote me, I'm just a grumpy old anti-nuclear activist. Get some solid statistics from actual organizations that have done research on nuclear power. A persuasive essay must be ... well, persuasive. And it needs an introduction and a conclusion. Here are some suggestions on ways to write a conclusion.

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