How Fear of Nuclear Power Is Hurting the Environment?
The dependence on fossil fuels in emerging economies is partly responsible for the declining percentage, on the other hand, the recent global trend away from nuclear is also another significant factor.
However, clean energies are neither sufficient nor reliable to offset the shortfall created due to closing nuclear plants. The reason is simple, nuclear power is unpopular!
Many countries are taking nuclear plants offline due to the fact that such plants strike fear to general public. Just imaging nuclear meltdowns, nuclear waste and nuclear weapons.
Yes, that’s pretty scary image.
Public resistance to atomic energy delays its progress. To surmount climate change, society must view the challenge as an attitudinal problem, not a technical one.
Clean energy production is increasing in absolute terms but on total energy production, clean energy has fallen from 36% to 31% in 2013. Although clean energy is increasing in absolute terms, its share of total energy production fell from 36% in 1995 to 31% in 2013.
Emerging economies’ growing dependence on fossil fuels is partly responsible for clean energy’s declining influence, but another significant factor is the recent global shift away from nuclear energy, which dropped by 7% between 2006 and 2014.
For instance, the United States closed four nuclear power plants in recent years and replaced their output primarily with fossil fuels. Clean energies are neither sufficiently abundant nor sufficiently reliable to offset the shortfall. Even California, a solar-energy pioneer, derives just 10% of its power from solar panels. Once darkness falls, the state relies on caches of fossil fuels to power homes.
The world is actually at risk of losing four times more clean energy than we lost over the last 10 years. In other words, we’re not in a clean energy revolution; we’re in a clean energy crisis.
It’s time to revisit nuclear energy. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear energy releases less carbon emissions than all other sources, bar wind energy. Moreover, atomic energy is reliable. A fully functional power station can produce energy 92% of the time. Alas, nuclear power is unpopular, and many countries are closing plants because their citizens harbor three common fears:
- Nuclear meltdowns – Engineers are designing new plants – including thorium molten salt reactors and high-temperature gas reactors to address safety concerns. Yet according to The Lancet, a renowned medical journal, nuclear already is “the safest way to make reliable power.” The World Health Organization’s findings indicate that most damage from accidents comes not from radiation but from human error due to panicking.
- Nuclear waste – If all the nuclear waste the United States ever generated were stacked on a football field, it would reach only 20 feet high. Nuclear waste is limited and contained. Meanwhile, fossil fuels emit air pollution that kills seven million people annually and contributes to global warming.
- Nuclear weapons – No country has ever progressed from generating nuclear power to building nuclear warheads, though the reverse is true: Several nations have destroyed their nukes and used the plutonium to fuel nuclear power plants.
Ultimately, public resistance to atomic energy impedes its progress. To surmount climate change, society must view the challenge as an attitudinal problem, not a technical one.