|Fig. 1: A nuclear power plant expelling water vapor into the atmosphere. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
Nuclear energy is commonly known for its detrimental effects to human health. The horrifying effects on the generations of people in Hiroshima after the nuclear bombing by the United States were astounding. People developed cancer from radiation poisoning as well as children being born with missing or additional limbs. Nuclear energy is very powerful, and the effects of it can be terrifying.  The United States tries to steer clear from using nuclear energy excessively. The beneficial effects of nuclear energy is usually overlooked because of its potentially devastating side-effects. Nuclear waste can be extremely hazardous because of its high emissions of radiation, but health problems from this can be prevented with careful disposal of nuclear waste.
One advantage is that according to reports in 1998, it has been determined that the emission of the greenhouse gas has decreased by nearly half due to the popularity in the use of nuclear power. Nuclear energy by far has the lowest impact on the environment since it does not release any gases like carbon dioxide or methane, which are largely responsible for greenhouse effect.  There is no adverse effect on water, land or any habitats due to the use of it. Though some greenhouse gases are released while transporting fuel or extracting energy from uranium. Nuclear energy is also very powerful, efficient, and reliable. Unlike other traditional energy sources such as solar or wind power, nuclear energy can be produced in any condition because it is created in a nuclear power plant that seldom needs to be shut down for maintenance. This provides a steady and efficient supply of powerful energy.  Nuclear energy is also cheaper and has a lower fuel cost than other sources of energy. The cost of uranium which is used as a fuel in generating electricity is quite low. Also, set up costs of nuclear power plants is relatively high while running cost is low. The average life of a nuclear reactor ranges from 4 to 60 years depending upon its usage. These factors when combined make the cost of producing electricity very low. Even if the cost of uranium rises, the increase in cost of electricity will be much lower. Production of nuclear energy needs very less amount of raw material.  This means that only about 28 gram of uranium releases as much energy as produced from 100 metric tons of coal. Since it's required in small quantities, transportation of fuel is much easier than fossil fuels. Optimal utilization of natural resources in production of energy is a very thoughtful approach for any nation. It not only enhances the socio-economic condition but also sets example for the other countries.
© Tai Thomas. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
 M. K. Hubbert, "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels," Shell Development Company, June 1956. -
 G. Cravens, Power to Save the World (Knopf, 2007).