Nuclear Power – Ethically, should we use it?

Right, well, this is the last of my exam essay prep. I promise after this I shall leave your inbox without intense critical debate at least until tomorrow.

Nuclear power is great. It is sustainable and the production of the power itself has virtually no environmental impact. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. But it is not the step that we should take yet. In what follows, I will be explaining why, if we value our fellow humans, we should avoid nuclear en masse until we are capable of controlling the fallout.

But why is this an issue that needs to be addressed here? What makes it so important? Well, the issue of how we power our planet is one that has great effect on the safety of our species, the way in which we use land, whether we use buried sunlight or surface sunlight. Dealing with the issue of nuclear power is a real concern because the numers are just so high. Both on level of risk, extent of risk, and power produced. It is also one of the least impactful sources of sustainable energy.

If we are moving away from combusting long dead dinosaurs at least in part because they are unsafe, then we should move towards the option that has the least amount of estimated impact and the greatest amunt of potential gain. I speak in terms of probabilities here because there is no way we can deny that something could result in it going wrong. It is this way for everything. That is just the way it is, until observed, we cannot tell if the cat is dead or alive. We cannot see into the future and must therefore predict, as best we can, for whether we think the cat drank the poison or not.

If we are genuinely concerned about the health of future generations then we  should not move to a power solution that is of a potentially gloabal catastrophe level. The lethal radioactive material that we cannot guarantee the safety of is not the only waste the nuclear power prduces. We also get a (minimal) impact on the environment in the mining and setting up for the reactor. This is not of great concern to me because all aspects of sustainable energy are bound to have some harm. Nuclear is a great sustainable source, but it is not green. And if we are wanting green energy then we should not look to nuclear. I don’t find that argument to be very convincing though, why should we go green after all? The issue is debateable. I now wish to propose a tradeoff scenario that shows that we should not go nuclear until we have a better, cleaner, way of dealing with the waste.

My main issue with nuclear pwer is the same as many of you – its the waste. That drastically harmful waste that puts whole regions out of use and at risk of terrorist attack. Side note, nuclear power plants, seem like a very attractive target for a terror attack; not beause they will cause a nuclear explosion, they won’t, but if compromised, then we may have a repeat of Chernobyl and Fukushima. In a world where the population is ever growing, if we are to restrict massive areasof land due to nuclear radiation it is just not worth the cost because we will need to start moving into the less habitable areas of the earth if the population contiues to rise at this rate.

Then we have the issue I touched on earlier, the fact that, if compromised, the power plant provides a massive threat to those around. Many of the 400+ nuclear plants are in highly populated areas. After the Fukushima disaster, Japan increased its level of “safe” radioactive exposure by 2000% and even then, some 800 square kilometers of land were declared to radioactive for human habitation (source).

The potential danger to future generations, the high threat level in the case of a meltdown, and the waste that puts areas of land out of use are just not worth what we gain from going nuclear. We are still just modern day cavemen and until we can adequately deal with the potential harms involved, we should avoid nuclear power, research and develope it further until we can gaurantee its safety.

This ethic has something to offer over and above that of others because it acknowledges that nuclear power really would be a great alternative if we were ready for it. It does not say anything about nuclear power being inherently bad and urges that if, tomorrow, we find out how to make nuclear safe, then we should move towards that. For now, we should move towards a cleaner source of power until such a time when we are able to fully control all aspects of nuclear power because it really is the way we should go. It is just too great of a risk for the 2016 man.


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