Although there continue to be nay-sayers who refuse to accept the negative effects of burning carbon-based fuels as an energy source, many experts like Jonathan Schrag understand that we must be looking for more environmentally-friendly ways to generate power. Although it gets caught up in a discourse of “danger” and “nuclear war,” the reality is that nuclear power is a much more clean, environmentally-responsible and affordable source of energy that we should continue to develop as a way to reduce our dependence on oil and gas. If you didn’t realize that nuclear energy fit the bill, then read on.
Reduced greenhouse gasses
One of the major reasons that carbon-based fuels are so destructive of the environment is because the burning of fossil fuels creates gases like carbon monoxide and methane which contribute to the “greenhouse effect” that has been linked to global warming. Nuclear energy does not directly produce greenhouse gases, which means that a shift to nuclear energy will help to protect the environment. This is confirmed by the fact that there has been a clear reduction in greenhouse gases as the nuclear energy has increased globally.
Reduced carbon foot-print
Virtually every product has a carbon-footprint, which is a measure of the amount of carbon-based fuels that were burned in its production and transport. As noted above, nuclear energy does not itself produce the harmful gases associated with carbon fuels. However, it is the case that carbon-based fuels are used to mine and transport uranium – the key “ingredient” required to produce nuclear energy, and to build nuclear power plants. That said, the amount of conventional fuel required for this purpose is significantly less than that required by other forms of energy because only very small amounts of uranium are required to produce huge amounts of energy. Moreover, as more and more vehicles shift to electricity rather than gas as their fuel source, the carbon footprint of transporting uranium will decrease over time.
Nuclear energy is highly efficient
As noted above, nuclear energy can be very efficiently produced. Only small amounts of uranium are required to produce many times more energy than is produced by traditional energy sources. For the sake of comparison, a small handful of uranium produces as much energy as 100 metric tons of coal. This means that consumers are able to enjoy significant savings.
Currently about 67% of the world’s electricity is produced using fossil fuel energy sources. While we are used to thinking about energy dependency in terms of oil, we don’t tend to make the connection to electricity as also being dependent on oil. A shift to nuclear energy will take some public persuasion as people harbor lingering doubts about its safety. More and more, however, it seems inevitable that nuclear energy will become the primary source of our electricity.