Nuclear power is the most dreaded and misunderstood power on Earth. It has been labeled an impractical resource and dumped into a reservoir of lost knowledge and ignorance. With enlightenment, the world can embrace the safe, clean energy provided by nuclear power.
One of the main concerns of skeptics is the safety of the nuclear plants, which actually emit water vapor rather than the harmful pollutants other power plants produce. That kind of pollution has killed more than any nuclear power plant, including the fabled meltdowns. Good design and proper supervision would have prevented meltdowns like the one in Chernobyl. Even this incident (the largest in history) only killed a fraction of those who have been (and still are being) killed by air pollution. This suffocating and incapacitating pollution is far more disastrous for people than a few preventable meltdowns.
Another misconception about nuclear power is its waste. No significant radiation has been detected during smooth operations of a plant, so workers are safe. When disposed of correctly, the toxic chemicals are not a factor, making the nuclear process as a whole much safer than conventional power.
Nuclear power is light years ahead of conventional power in terms of efficiency. Many people are trying to introduce new solar and wind technologies, but these are not as efficient as nuclear power. Lying beneath a pile of fear and contempt is nuclear power that, when finally fully utilized, could dwarf the productivity of the main non-renewable resources of today. In a car, a small piece of uranium could last over 100,000 miles. This idea is not practical, but is more efficient than a tank of gasoline which runs the car for a measly 325 miles.
Besides safety concerns, nuclear power has been criticized for its costs. When analyzed thoroughly, its initial start-up cost may be higher than a normal power plant, but it is more cost-effective and efficient in the long run. The technology requires precision and precautions, but the result is worth it. In order to create heat for the energy, controlled nuclear reactions must occur. First an atom is bombarded by a particle. This atom breaks apart, sending small particles off at other atoms that are eventually split by the particles, and then the process repeats itself, resulting in a chain reaction. This is a complex process that can be kept in order with sufficient funds and materials.
In the long run, nuclear power can become a leading power producer because of its efficiency and safety. A once-disastrous power source can take the world’s energy crisis under its wing and carry us in the right direction. Although it will not be the only source of energy, it could become the majority of our energy. There truly is a bright side to nuclear power.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.