Axia College of University of Phoenix
COM125 Utilizing Information in College Writing
Dr. Rich Rice
December 10, 2006
Nuclear Power: Blessing or Hazard
In 1953, President Eisenhower electrified the United Nation’s General Assembly with his vision of the future of atomic energy. “The fearful trend of atomic military buildup can be reversed, this greatest destructive force can be developed into a great boon for the benefit of all mankind… to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind.” (Taylor, 2004, p. 1). Today, over 60 years later we have not fully realized President Eisenhower’s vision. This is most likely due to the dubious past of nuclear power and an unfavorable opinion still held today. Though the past deserved that animosity, the future is bright and with a few improvements to technology and protocols nuclear power will become the best option to be the power source of tomorrow.
The discovery in the 1940s of energy produced through the nuclear fission of an atom has proven to be a very effective source of energy; but if not handled properly nuclear energy has also been found to be very dangerous. There are many experts that support both sides of this argument. One expert argues:
Although the process of nuclear power from an idea to a commercial reality has witnessed many successes, it has also had its share of failures. Unfortunately, the failures make more news and therefore catch the attention of the public. The success stories are seldom publicized. (Blix, 2000, p. 1).
Though it is an exceptional source of energy, nuclear power is still viewed with suspicion by many. As one expert observes, “a vocal public opinion in the west, with increasing echoes elsewhere, is demanding a stop to further nuclear power construction and even a phasing out of existing capacity.” (Blix, 2000,p. 1-2). Of the many accidents that have occurred throughout the years at nuclear power plants, many complications have arisen and numerous lives have been lost. For example, statistics from studies completed 12 years after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl, in the Russian Ukraine, show that the frequency of diseases in this area are nearly four times as much as before the accident (Henderson, 1998). The radiation given off by nuclear power plants can harm the people, wildlife, and agriculture around them. Another large problem with nuclear energy is the safety of the radioactive waste that it produces. A large consequence of nuclear power is the long-lived fission by-products (nuclear waste) since their safe isolation from the environment requires almost one hundred thousand years (Frosh, 2006).
When first coming out in the1950s, nuclear power was enthusiastically viewed by the public thanks to it being heralded as a peaceful use of the atom. Science, scientific achievements, and scientists were looked upon with favor by the media and highly appreciated by the public (Blix, 2000). Since its discovery, nuclear power has accounted for 17% of the world’s electricity supply in the second half of the century. That 17% produced through the use of nuclear power is slightly more than that produced by hydroelectric power (Blix, 2000). This power has been an exceptional addition in many areas around the world and in some areas has become the main source of energy, such as France and Lithuania (Eldaradei, 2003). In over 50 years of nuclear power existence, 440 nuclear power plants have entered into operation and over 8000 years of experience on the power reactors have been safely compiled (Blix, 2000).
Though we could optimistically view the future of nuclear energy, the past has certainly had many pessimistic incidents. In the 1970s, the rise in oil prices gave the perfect reason to start using nuclear power as a main source of energy. Dr. Hans Blix recounts, “Energy planners started to accord a much greater role to nuclear power in their quest for suitable substitutes for burning oil and to assure a more