One of the most powerful arguments in favor of nuclear power has been that of the reduced atmospheric pollutants created from nuclear energy generation, particularly when compared to greenhouse gas emitting energy sources such as coal power. More and more, climate change has become a central political objective across the globe. Here we explore the key elements of how nuclear power can potentially make a real difference and help turn the tide of climate change.
The Appeal of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power has tremendous potential to be part of the solution to climate change. Nuclear energy has an extremely low production rate of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with levels created from the development and operation of hydroelectric and wind power facilities. Compared to coal and even natural gas, the use of nuclear power substantially reduces the release of greenhouse gas emissions, making nuclear power a viable choice to supplement renewable energy sources. Improvements in risk management and nuclear technology make nuclear power a safer and more powerful source of energy that has the potential to make a real impact on climate change.
The Concern of Global Climate Change
For several years, it has been of great concern that developed countries are simply not doing enough to address climate change. Ongoing increases in carbon emission production (from both developed and developing countries) will make it even more difficult to limit global warming impacts. At the current rate, the planet is likely to see a rise of seven degrees Centigrade in this century alone. Such a drastic difference in temperature will result in lower crop yields and influence weather patterns. Climate exiles and refugees are expected to reach numbers of over one hundred million across the globe. This truly is a crisis of epic proportions and needs to be addressed on a highly political level.
In response to this growing concern over climate change, nations have collectively proposed emission-curbing goals up to 2030. Climate change scientists have estimated a 1-in-2 chance that temperatures will be raised in 2100 by between 2.7 to 3.7 degrees Celsius. The participating nations in the Paris climate summit agreed that their goal would be to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 450 parts per million (ppm). That goal is, of course, easier set than accomplished. While many environmentalists remain concerned by the potential risks involved with large-scale nuclear investment, scientists argue that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power may not be reliable enough to realistically provide enough power for growing global demand for electricity.
A Carbon Neutral Energy Future
Nuclear power is and should be considered an important part of the climate change solution. Nuclear energy has one of the lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions, comparable with levels created from the development and operation of hydroelectric and wind power facilities. Compared to coal and natural gas, the use of nuclear power substantially reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the environment. The benefit of nuclear power has been recognized by U.S. political and scientific leaders, though there remains a substantial amount of public concern regarding waste disposal and safety of the nuclear power plants within the surrounding community.
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