Theoretically speaking, nuclear energy seems like the perfect alternative.
Let’s not get into the confusing physics behind it too much. You take “stuff”, and you either smash it together to make larger stuff (fusion) or you split it up to make smaller stuff (fission). That’s about as simple as I can make it.
But there’s a catch: nuclear energy production produces waste. And it has the potential to go really, really wrong.
Nuclear energy doesn’t just produce waste, it produces radioactive waste. And right now, our solution to what to do with that radioactive waste is to store it underneath a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Seems sustainable…
Additionally, we’ve all seen some of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear energy generation gone wrong. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima.
In terms of energy produced compared to resources devoted, nuclear energy does seem perfect. After all, it seems like there’s an endless supply of “stuff”. A study conducted by the World Nuclear Association finds that energy devoted to production represents a mere 1-3% of the total energy produced post-production.
The issue, of course is long-term feasibility and sustainability. It seems like the perfect alternative until it goes wrong and leaves a no-man land of 1000 square miles in its wake (Chernobyl).
Despite all the benefits, the return on resources, the endless power generation, the effects are simply too severe for nuclear energy to be a long-term, sustainable alternative energy source.
Ultimately, ask yourself: Would you want a nuclear power plant near your town?
You do an excellent job of breaking down the nuclear fusion vs fission debate. I also think that it is astounding how little energy total that nuclear energy accounts for. With that being said, I agree with your analysis highlighting the failed examples of nuclear meltdowns and would probably reject a nuclear reactor being installed into my town until we have sufficient technological advancement in the building of such reactors.
When I first learned about nuclear power in high school I had a very similar reaction that you are describing here. On paper, it seems like a very good option, using little resources to produce a large amount of product sounds good on paper. But thinking about it subjectively, as someone who would have to live near a nuclear power plant to access this energy, I do not think it is the best option.
To answer your question, no. I would definitely not want to live anywhere near a nuclear power plant considering the devastating aftermath that would result from one small mistake. While this alternative energy source seems perfect compared to other options, the risks one takes living nearby a plant is just anxiety inducing to say the least. Moving away from one or petitioning against one’s inclusion seems like the most sensible decision to me.
I really enjoyed reading your blog because not only was it informative, but you broke it down in such a away that anyone could understand. You made something seemingly complicated, very straight forward. I would hate to live near a nuclear power plant because of all the risks…it is definitely, in my opinion, not the greatest source of energy.