The return of nuclear energy

it's worth looking at it once more

Published in El Pais, 13 January 2022.

Practically all the countries in the world have agreed to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide in order to reduce the effect of climate change. Carbon dioxide is one of the main gases that causes global warming, melting and rising sea levels. This gas appears when we burn wood, natural gas, oil, etc. The generation of electricity depends largely on these resources. That is why many countries are already trying to change the way electricity is generated. Wind energy, hydropower, solar panels etc. are some of the attempts to replace the old ways of generating energy with something more sustainable. Some countries have more options than others. Holland as a country with little sun, and a flat geography without mountains, does not have many options. It can be windy, but with almost 600 people per square kilometer nobody wants these annoying windmills nearby their house.

The solution comes from an unexpected corner, nuclear energy. Sure, many of the readers remember the Chernobyl disaster where in 1986 a nuclear reactor exploded and contaminated much of the Soviet Union and Europe with radioactive dust. There is also a recent disaster from a few years ago in Fukushima, where a nuclear plant had problems after an earthquake and a tsunami. In addition, we have all the nuclear waste that is no longer useful. They keep it in isolated places or try to process it into less harmful products. However, every now and then something goes wrong, or they lose some to terrorists. So at first glance nuclear power is a bad idea.

But the great advantage is that nuclear energy does not release any carbon dioxide, or any other toxic gas. The towers you always see in the photos are nothing more than cooling towers. Also, if you calculate in a different way you can argue that all the gases emitted by carbon, gas, oil etc. that generate electricity also generate so many toxic gases and breathing all these gases causes various types of cancer and reduces life expectancy. More than people who have died or suffered nuclear accidents. Additionally, many nuclear plants are still based on designs from 60 years ago. Now there are new technologies that are safer, more efficient, and some even use waste from old nuclear plants.

I’m still in doubt if it’s the solution, but I think it’s worth looking at it once more if it’s really a good opportunity to solve a big problem with modern technology that promises to achieve our carbon dioxide reduction goals.

About Arnold Hagens 296 Articles
Arnold Hagens is Economist with strong interest in technology, health and coaching

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