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With each development of Japan’s nuclear and natural disasters, countries around the world sympathize. But after a little digging, it turns out that Japan’s circumstances relate to our nation more than we may think.
Beyond the destruction caused by Japan’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the situation at nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi has failed to make any comforting progress. As it stands, Japan has sought international aid in the frantic race to cease the radioactive leaking and cool three overheated reactors, according to CNN.
Gradually, Japan’s nuclear disaster is growing out of control at the expense of lives and the environment. The disaster not only calls for a remedy, but also sends a global wake-up call that, perhaps, the age of nuclear energy is a dead-end road.
With damaged fuel rods, radioactive particles slowly contaminating the Pacific, flooded basements and insufficient cooling systems, the situation at Fukushima Daiichi is nothing short of a toxic mess.
Granted, Tokyo Electric Power Company likely did not anticipate the massive earthquake that struck the country. But simply witnessing what a haywire nuclear plant looks like raises the dilemma of whether nuclear energy is worth the unexpected risks at all.
Maybe it’s just me, but the word “nuclear” seems disastrous, and there’s not a lot of evidence to alter its negative connotation.
The process of creating nuclear energy isn’t simple to a science-challenged person such as myself, but essentially it involves the spliting of uranium atoms, which are stored into fuel rods and then placed into a reactor to create heat. The generated heat boils water into steam, which ultimately creates electricity.
The process itself not only emits radioactive materials, but also ends with immense amounts of hazardous nuclear waste and limited space to put it. The fuel rods can remain dangerous for nearly 10,000 years, according to The Weekmagazine.
From Japan’s crisis, we see the potential dangers inherent in nuclear plants; currently, the U.S. has 104 of them.
Apart from the threat of unanticipated natural disasters, the plants are also targets for terrorism. Some are in locations that, if attacked, could harm entire cities.
If nuclear energy was considered the end-all solution to climate change, or provided any assurance regarding the energy crisis, I would agree with the provisions to keep the plants and determine additional safety precautions.
But nuclear energy is used only for electricity. It in no way powers the means of our pressing transportation needs currently depleting boatloads of resources. Nuclear energy isn’t bringing anything to the table.
According to the International Energy Agency, turning on a nuclear reactor every10 days from now until 2050 would only yield a reduction of carbon emissions of below four percent.
Decreasing carbon emissions by a whopping four percent will prove moot in reversing climate change and saving the environment. Nuclear energy deceivingly worsens our environmental problems, as nuclear waste accumulates and increases risk and pollution.
Though millions are being spent on nuclear energy, its blatant ineffectiveness renders the project as nothing more than a temporary means to silence energy crisis concerns. Continual persistence on nuclear energy has lead to danger and death.
The production of nuclear energy should have ceased in 1986, with the famed incident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine. After a reactor meltdown, more radioactivity was released than when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to Greenpeace.
Resultant of the Chernobyl accident, 56 people died and around 600,000 were threatened by radiation exposure.
At this point, nuclear energy is nothing but a measure of sheer ignorance, particularly when considering other alternative energy sources such as renewable energy.
Renewable energy derives from local renewable, natural sources such as wind parks, solar power stations and geothermal heat, according to Greenpeace. Not only are sources for renewable energy cheaper, but they are also significantly safer and cleaner than nuclear energy.
Two organizations seriously dedicated to the renewable energy progression, Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, worked together to prove that maximized renewable energies contain the potential to fulfill 95 percent of the entire world’s energy needs by 2050.
Also according to the two organizations, the global transition to renewable energy would create nearly 12 million jobs by 2030, simultaneously helping ease the economic crisis.
The benefits and promises of renewable energy drastically overcome the dangerous, true colors of nuclear energy revealed by the disasters in Japan and the past.
Renewable energy holds the promise that as long as the sun continues to shine, there will be energy. Nuclear energy promises nothing but an overabundance of radioactive, nuclear waste lasting thousands of years into the future.
Unfortunately, the path to solving the energy crisis and climate change will travel through uncharted and deceptive territory within the coming years.
As young adults prepare to face the energy crisis, the necessity to understand and take action on these crises and sources of alternative energy is as dire as ever.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Devon Barrow at Devon.firstname.lastname@example.org.