The modern day dependency on fossil fuels has led to a global search for ethical and environmentally-sound alternative energy. Among the most powerful is nuclear energy, though it is mired in controversy. This essay describes, among other things, the nuclear energy process, and with it the weaknesses. Amid the hope of one day using nuclear energy as a “green” energy source, there is much fear of devastation, due to the four main nuclear disasters in Earth’s history. After the most recent nuclear disaster, Fukushima, Germany reversed their stance on nuclear energy, denouncing any future involvement with the research, development, and usage of nuclear energy. Every disaster and development can be considered part of a learning curve. The world has generally embraced nuclear power. Natural disasters should not cause hesitation in the research and development of nuclear energy but rather result in greater care and understanding for the policies and procedures surrounding nuclear energy research, development, usage and storage.
Natural Disasters in Nuclear Energy Development
The controversy associated with the use of nuclear energy as a modern alternative to fossil fuels has much to do with the fear of natural disasters diminishing the structural integrity of nuclear power plants. This anxiety should not prevent scientists from pursuing nuclear energy as a clean, efficient alternative to fossil fuel consumption but rather place emphasis on the role of engineering and safety policies. The fear of natural disasters does not warrant the current hesitations in nuclear energy usage and development. Ever since the discovery of coal in the middle ages as an “alternative energy” in lieu of wood, or the burning of whale oil to keep Victorian streets lit at night, humans have sought new energy sources to keep pace with the demands of everyday life in a modern world. An argument could be made that in many cases efficiency, a fundamental goal of capitalist market-driven economies, has taken a back seat to concerns about the environmental hazards and costs of using our current energy sources. These concerns are valid, as modern day dependence on fossil fuels such as, oil, gas, and coal has led to the diminishment of Earth’s natural resources. Overuse of fossil fuels during the twentieth century has lent itself to a wide variety of natural events in increased potency and frequency. In light of global warming, ozone depletion, greenhouse gasses, air pollution, and soil erosion (all of which can be attributed to the increased levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere emitted by the burning of carbon-rich fossil fuels), scientists and environmentalists are eager to find environmentally-friendly, sustainable alternatives to meet the needs of a growing, electricity-hungry global population. Paul Harrison, an Australian energy enthusiast and author of History of Alternative Energy, has defined coined the new definition of alternative energy to, “an energy source that does not deplete or exhaust natural resources and does not harm the environment” (Harrison, 2009).
The global search for an ethical and environmentally-sound alternative energy source has been underway since the latter half of the twentieth century. This quest has given way to many breakthrough solutions that may one day yield fruitful results. Until that time, the alternatives proposed thus far fail to provide the quantity of energy needed at an affordable cost, delivered in an efficient, “green” manner. Hydrogen and nuclear are currently the only energy sources able to produce enough power to present a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Hydrogen is used mostly in the automobile industry due to its current inability to provide large sustainable power. The most powerful -nuclear energy - is mired in controversy. Amid the fear...