Climate Change Mythbusters, Part 2 | Teen Ink

Climate Change Mythbusters, Part 2

December 7, 2022
By DarkTetra GOLD, San Jose, California
DarkTetra GOLD, San Jose, California
10 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"We can't hide from the reality of what anti-vaccine conspiracies do: they kill babies too young to be vaccinated. They kill healthy children that are just unlucky. They bring serious diseases back from the verge of extinction. And, the biggest side effect of vaccines is fewer dead children."
-Kurzgesagt-In A Nutshell 2019

Myth: Nuclear energy is as dangerous as fossil fuels.

When people hear the phrase “nuclear power,” they often think of nuclear bombs, which, on the two occasions they were used, killed tens of thousands of people in an instant and caused hundreds of thousands more to die prematurely from a variety of other horrible diseases. This comparison, however, is like comparing a light drizzle of rain to a full-fledged hurricane. Nuclear bombs are made to purposely cause as much death and destruction as possible, so the atomic fission happens much more quickly and rapidly. Nuclear power plants do this in a slower, more controlled manner. And the waste created by doing that, unlike fossil fuels, is contained in metal barrels that are stored deep underground, where they cannot hurt anyone. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, however, float up into the atmosphere as soon as they are created, where they can easily find their way into our lungs or trap sunlight inside Earth’s atmosphere, effectively cooking the planet.

Most opposers of nuclear power would probably point at the disastrous effects of the number of nuclear accidents that have happened, and say that a power plant that can suddenly melt down catastrophically and kill thousands of people in the process is obviously not worth the risk. However, there have only been 30 reported nuclear accidents in the last 50 years, and most of them were pretty minor. One of the most famous ones, the Three Mile Island Accident in 1979, is predicted to have killed no people at all, as the radiation leaked was the equivalent of what you receive during a chest X-Ray. Even the wildest estimates predicted less than 350 deaths, which is laughably tiny compared to the millions of deaths fossil fuels cause in 1 year. Even the World Health Organization estimated the worst nuclear accident in history, the Chornobyl Disaster of 1986 to have killed 4,000 people, with the most pessimistic estimates coming in at about 60,000 deaths. And what’s more, most of these accidents were only caused by the poor design and maintenance of the power plants, as the innovation of nuclear power plants stopped in the 1970s, and only recently did scientists start researching safer reactors. The latest nuclear accident, for example, happened more than 10 years ago (at the time of writing) and only killed around 300–400 people. These deaths, unlike other nuclear accident-related deaths, were not a result of radiation but were caused by the sheer stress of the evacuation during the days after the accident. Most scientists predict that the accident will cause virtually no premature deaths in the future, with the highest estimate being about 1000 deaths.

Basically, nuclear power is powerful and reliable, it produces virtually no greenhouse gases, and there have only been two major accidents in the 50+ years of its history (one of which was caused by poor, outdated technology and the other by a freak tsunami), both of which have not killed more than 60,000 people.

So, as you can clearly see by now, nuclear energy is not as bad as many people say it is. In a way, it’s like riding an airplane. It’s way safer than driving a car (which is, in the context of this example, the burning of fossil fuels), but when an accident does happen, people freak out. But in reality, nuclear energy is a relatively safe alternative to fossil fuels. And the more people realize this, the better.

Thanks to Kurzgesagt-In A Nutshell for making so many videos on nuclear power and inspiring me to write this. All facts from this article come from one of their source documents:

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