Nuclear power is the only answer to securing our energy supply


Nuclear power continues to be a controversial option in the move away from fossil fuels. Some argue that it provides a secure, secure and long-standing supply of electricity, while others argue that the cost of building and maintaining new power plants and the problems associated with waste disposal the outweigh the benefits. The UK government has increased investment, with more than £2billion earmarked for reactors and aims to have a quarter of UK electricity generated from nuclear by 2050. We asked two academics on either side of the debate to share their views. Read the other side of the argument here.

Finding enough energy is essential to all life. Humans excelled at this, especially when they studied and overcame their innate fear of fire around 600,000 years ago. Until the industrial revolution, they were content with energy derived from the daily sun which powers water currents, wind and other manifestations, including the production of food and vegetation. But human life was short and miserable for the general population. The causes were the anemic strength of the sun’s rays, averaging 340 watts per square meter, and its random interruption by unpredictable weather conditions.

With fossil fuels, energy increased and was available anywhere and anytime. Life expectancy has doubled and the world’s population has quadrupled. For 200 years, whoever had access to fossil fuels had world power. However, at the 2015 Paris Conference, nations agreed that carbon emission posed an existential threat and that sooner rather than later it should stop.

Technology can be stimulating and exciting, but it cannot provide energy where there is none, today as in pre-industrial times. Writing in 1867, Karl Marx dismissed wind power as “too fickle and uncontrollable”. He considered water power to be better, but still “beset by difficulties”. Today, the large size of hydroelectric, wind and solar power stations in relation to their power reflects their weakness and their destructive impact on flora and fauna – a point often overlooked by environmentalists.

If renewable energy is simply not enough and fossil fuel emissions are only accelerating climate change, what abundant primary energy source could provide political and economic stability for the next 200 years? The natural sciences can say, without a doubt, that the only answer is nuclear.

In 1931, Winston Churchill wrote: “The coal that a man can get in a day can easily do 500 times more work than the man himself. Nuclear energy is at least a million times more powerful… There is no doubt among scientists that this gigantic source of energy exists. What is missing is the match to light the bonfire… The discovery and control of such sources of energy would bring about changes in human affairs incomparably greater than those produced by the steam engine four years ago. generations.

He was right, but this transition requires proper public education. As the world recovered from World War II, it lost faith and demonized nuclear energy. This denial of windfall benefit to society has persisted for 70 years, backed by false scientific claims around radiation and oil interests. But apart from the blast of a nuclear explosion, nuclear energy and its radiation are safer than burning fossil fuels, as confirmed by evidence from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Moreover, the nuclear applications in medicine pioneered by Marie Curie (such as the use of radiation to treat cancerous tumors) have been widely appreciated for 120 years.

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Nuclear regulation must be proportionate to the real risk, and it must be funded appropriately, with wealthier countries covering the costs. Fully informed, everyone should rejoice in the safety of small, cheap, mass-produced nuclear power plants dedicated to supplying communities with on-demand electricity, off-peak hydrogen, fertilizers, industrial heat and seasonless agriculture for decades. The only real challenges are developing the necessary skills and instilling public confidence.

Wade Allison is the author of Radiation and Reason, and Nuclear is for Life.

Also read: Nuclear power is already well past its expiry date, by Paul Dorfman

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