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Alternative Energy: Our Options

In the quest for less expensive energy alternatives, nuclear energy is once again being touted as "a clean, safe alternative" (Schrock, 1998). With global warming a concern for many, the potential to reduce greenhouse gases is another reason nuclear energy is being touted; comprehensive analysis of greenhouse gas emissions finds that "nuclear power is one of the least carbon intensive generation technologies" ("Nuclear Energy and the Kyoto Protocol," 2002, p. 7). Statistics show that in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries, nuclear power plants have lowered the production of greenhouse gases approximately one-third, resulting in a savings of 1,200 million tons of carbon dioxide yearly ("Nuclear Energy and the Kyoto Protocol," 2002, p. 7).

Nuclear energy, however, carries with it several unacceptable risks. First, there is always the risk of "catastrophic technological accidents" such as core meltdowns or other accidents that release harmful radioactivity into the environment where it can cause cancer and genetic mutations; the accident at Three Mile Island is an example of such an eventuality (Morone & Woodhouse, 1989, p. x). "There will always be motivation to circumvent or thwart safety rules if abiding by them can cause economic loss," which explains why "the nuclear industry so far has such a frightening safety record" ("Coal versus Nuclear Power," 2006). It also suggests the second risk-economic loss. The high relative costs of nuclear energy are profound, with estimates as high as $3 billion annually, based on a cost of 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for nuclear energy versus 4.2 cents for coal and natural gas ("Nuclear Power Has Cost and Proliferation Problems," 2003). Then there is the unresolved problem of what to do with the toxic nuclear wastes left over from the generation of nuclear energy. Burying them in the desert as has heretofore been done still poses a thr<...

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Alternative Energy: Our Options. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:15, April 21, 2019, from