Since the beginning of civilization, man has always persuaded development with a lot of vigor and determination. In his pursuit he created of the most sophisticated technologies for quenching his thirst for science and invention. Out of all the technologies that have been invented, one technology stands apart from all, due to its excessively diverse nature in terms of advantage and disadvantages. This technology is ‘nuclear technology’, which very few elite nations of the world has acquired and has put it to use for construction as well as destruction purposes.
Being a nuclear power today is a huge responsibility for the country and how the technology is put to use is one of the decisive factors for the making and breaking of that country. The history of the nuclear technology is as fascinating as the technology itself. The journey of nuclear technology started in 1895 when Wilhelm Rontgen passed electric current though a relinquished glass tube and discovered the concept of ionizing radiation. After a year in 1896 Henri Becquerel made an amendable discovery of photographic plates darkening due to radiation in the form of beta and alpha particles.
The third form of radiation in terms of gamma rays was discovered by Villard and concluded that it wasn’t similar to the x-rays. By the same year Piere Curie and Marie curie gave birth to the term radioactivity and made the phenomenon more understood than it was ever before. The major breakthrough however came in 1902 by Ernest Rutherford who displayed the world the spontaneous emission of particles creating a different element. This technology got a better understanding in the 1940’s by Niel Bohr
The fission part of the nuclear power came into action by the discoveries of Hahn and Strassman and their breakthrough made the confirmation of a huge amount of energy being released along with the release of neutrons which eventually caused fission in the nucleus of uranium and held a chain reaction which was the reason behind the abrupt release of large energy. This also led to the research of uranium enrichment and in the crucial year of 1939 professor Peirls made calculations and studies which became major research material for the making of atomic bomb.
Theories also started coming for nuclear fusion, which could be used as energy source for civilian needs. The Manhattan project was mainly used for making use of the technology for making a powerful destructive weapon, some part of it was also used in making technology for peaceful civilian use. After the destruction of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America engaged in more peaceful integration of the technology in the 1960s. The following will explain the fact of America’s interest in civil nuclear power and the risk assessment done later on: ‘The nuclear power industry grew rapidly in the 1960s.
Utility companies saw this new form of electricity production as economical, environmentally clean, and safe. In the 1970s and 1980s concerns grew on reactor safety, waste disposal, and environmental considerations’ (Courtesy: U. S. Department of Energy, “The History of Nuclear Energy”. Page 8. Retrieved on December 8, 2008 from http://www. nuclear. gov/pdfFiles/History. pdf. ) The concept of nuclear energy or for that matter nuclear power works on the simple conversions based from mass to energy which occurs to the split or joining of atoms which are larger or smaller than iron.
The entire technology is drawn into two systems of fusion and fission. The former is the procedure of the combination of two relatively small atoms to make a heavy atom. The transitional reaction between them causes a lot of energy. The technology of fission is however different and is rather the exact opposite of fusion, where a large atom is split to have tow small atoms. The large atom normally is used is Uranium. This technology is what is used to run for civilian nuclear sites especially in the generation of electricity.
The importance of using the nuclear power for energy perspective came after the usage of atomic bombs in the Second World War. The US navy decided to experiment on this technology and started using submarines which were nuclear powered to examine the amount of energy consumed over a larger period of time. On observation of their maiden experiment, it was seen that these high powered submarines could run well over a year without refueling to the nuclear technology. This was a pioneer in bringing the technology to use for sufficing civilian requisites.
Being a nuclear power in the world has a lot of advantages; firstly the usage of this technology greatly helps in the reduction of carbon emission which has been generated by power generating industries. The main reason behind is that nuclear technology is the perfect answer to the world’s problem of depletion of fossil fuels as the rates of crude oil have been fluctuating to very high levels. Once there will acute shortage of fossil fuel, there can be a chaos in the world which can be well controlled by significant increase of nuclear reactors that would produce a high amount of power that could well suffice the needs of the world.
At present it is estimated that there are approximately 440 nuclear reactors operating a little over 34 countries and are producing and sufficing electricity needs for sixteen percent of this world. There are many pros related with the nuclear power but unfortunately there is a lot of negative sentiment that is associated with it as it s first arrival or introduction to the world was with the destruction of the two Japanese cities in the second world war.
The very first myth of the nuclear power is that it’s environmental unfriendly and when compared to fossil fuels wit is much cleaner than doesn’t destroy the atmosphere the way the burning of coal and other fossil fuels have done in the last few centuries. Developed countries like the United States of America consume allot of energy than poorer nations and have a huge appetite for power for its citizens. To suffice this need large amount of fossil fuels are burnt which produces huge amount of greenhouse gases are send into the atmosphere which in turn are causing more and more global warming.
This in turn is causing the climates to go awry and create havocs in terms of hurricanes to tsunamis. Nuclear energy is considered harmful by skeptics but they do not realize that nuclear power if used wisely can generate a lot of electricity and can suffice a lot of power requirements for the population in the world without disturbing the atmosphere or for that matter without engaging more of global warming. The growth of the country depends on the economy and with the price rising due to oil depletion; inflation tends to creep in bringing the country in massive recession and other economic regressions.
Nuclear power is the most perfect solution for this, as firstly the major advantage which lies with the technology when compared to technologies like wind energy or solar energy is that major research has already been done in this technology and the world is already using a lot of nuclear reactors for power consumption. The only thing that is required right now is to increase these reactors so that immediate effect can be caste on global warming.
To invest now heavily on other alternatives of energy would induce more global warming as by the time newer environmental caring energies are launched it might become too late for the world due to massive rushes of green houses gases which would be emitted by large scale industries. The following will shed more light on the point of nuclear power being a better source of energy than fossil fuels: ‘Compared to coal and hydroelectric dams, nuclear power is the safest and cleanest way, from an environmental standpoint, to produce electricity. And uranium is more abundant than fossil fuels.
France uses nuclear power to generate 77 percent of its electricity’ (Courtesy: Donald W. Miller, Jr. , MD, “Advantages of Nuclear Power”. April 14, 2004. Retrieved on December 8, 2008 from http://www. lewrockwell. com/miller/miller13. html) The nuclear energy is going to a major potent when source of energy to save the world from the wrath of highly populated and energy demanding nations of Indian and China. For the same reason the Indo-US nuclear co-operation deal is considered a landmark for Asia, it is going to boost India’s ever growing needs of power by nuclear reactors churning out high amount of electricity.
What is important for nations who have this technology is to enhance research on them and make the best usage of the abundant uranium available in the world. Growing cities of Mumbai and developed cities like Beijing are high on power demands. The adverse effect can be seen when India is having load shedding as a solution to solve the shortage of electricity problems. When the country starts using more and more nuclear technology for the generation of power the need for 12 hour power cuts won’t be necessary and the country can hope to develop more in a rapid pace than what is doing now.
The following will give more evidence on the fact that nuclear powers are the need of the hour and they are a whopping success in countries that are extensively using it: ‘Nuclear power is environmentally attractive and has been recognized in many countries. For success standardization is essential as have been shown of France and other countries including Sweden and Japan. These countries have had success with nuclear power’. (Courtesy: Behram Kursunoglu, Stephan L. Mintz, Arnold Perlmutter, “The Challenges to Nuclear Power in the Twenty-first Century”. Page 17. 2000.
Retrieved on December 8, 2008. Published by Springer) Nuclear energy is however bad named and rather infamous for its usage in the war and more and more nations arming up or keeping them in their arsenals for using them against each other, but the fact of the matter is if this technology is used with a lot of peace and for development, it can very well over ride the consumption of coal and become a major benefactor of producing electricity in short time. There are cons related to this form of energy however, and the biggest disadvantage of this form of energy is the basic mindset of man itself.
As man has a huge tendency of self destruction and any technology that is given to him is first thought through a process of being used in defense rather than being used in the development of man kind. Nuclear energy has been witnessed as a lethal weapon for war and this has prompted many nations to start research on the lines of first having this technology for the usage of making more atomic bombs that can be used for destruction of enemy nations. Today nations whoa re anti U.
S such as Iran are trying to get this technology not for its civil development purposes but for using it as an arsenal in their defense armory. Any such move would have catastrophic effects on the world and today if this technology is misused, it would be great fate if only one third of the world could survive. Today terrorism is at rise and all developed and developing nations are facing the wrath of these terrorists. The biggest disadvantage of having a civilian nuclear reactor can come in to picture when a deadly terrorist strike is done on these sites.
The following will vindicate the point of these sites becoming targets of fanatics; ‘Nuclear power plants as well as nuclear waste could be preferred targets for terrorist attacks. No atomic energy plant in the world could withstand an attack similar to 9/11 in Yew York. Such a terrorist act would have catastrophic effects for the whole world’ (Courtesy: Pros and cons of nuclear power. Retrieved on December 8, 2008 from http://timeforchange. org/pros-and-cons-of-nuclear-power-and-sustainability)
No amount of damage control can be done if such a situation arises, as it would be more of having a small nuclear blast in that region which would not only affect the population in terms of human, but also it would have adverse effects on animals and natural habitat and might even destroy the entire region with no chance of redemption for a very long time to come. Another disadvantage of having nuclear power is the accidents that can take place and can bring the entire environment to risk. There have been evidences documented which brought disaster and laid out the beans of having a catastrophe much higher in regard to it.
The following will explain and back the point of nuclear sites having accidents due to human error which bring every living creature in that region to grave risks: ‘Three Mile Island (USA 1979) where the reactor was severely damaged but radiation was contained and Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986) where the destruction of the reactor by explosion killed 31 people and had significant health and environmental consequences’. (Courtesy: World Nuclear association, “Safety of nuclear power reactors”. June 2008. Retrieved on December 8, 2008 from http://www. world-nuclear. org/info/inf06.
html) Though this form of technology doesn’t harm the world by global warming, the disposal of nuclear waste from nuclear sites is one nagging issue that has troubled the world over. Nuclear waste can also be used for the making of nuclear weapons, so countries can actually cheat the world for having nuclear power on civilian lines and might use its waste for the creation of more and more destructive nuclear weapons. If the nuclear waste is not used as weapons then the disposing part becomes a problem as this waste is radioactive and has to be carefully executed.
If fallen on wrong hand again it might bring a problem with security and if left at sites near civilian habitation, then there is a huge chance of health hazards due to immense radiation which might even cause cancer and other diseases. One major drawback of nuclear power is that till today there is no proper knowledge of abundance of uranium and the amount of time and money can go waste if the uranium gets depleted in the world. Nuclear power is a boon and curse to a nation depending upon the choice of usage the country decides to put itself into.
The technology or the power on its is neutral and is extreme to a large extent as when used for destruction it would cause havoc, and when used for construction purposes it would produce more environmental free power than it was ever before. The sun which is major responsibly for providing energy to our planet also runs on the same technology and is responsible for having life on this planet. Nuclear power too on the same lines if used wisely can create and support life but if used negatively than there might be no life for the sun to ever sustain. Reference: 1) U. S. Department of Energy, “The History of Nuclear Energy”.
Page 8. http://www. nuclear. gov/pdfFiles/History. pdf 2) Donald W. Miller, Jr. , MD, “Advantages of Nuclear Power”. April 14, 2004. http://www. lewrockwell. com/miller/miller13. html 3) Behram Kursunoglu, Stephan L. Mintz, Arnold Perlmutter, “The Challenges to Nuclear Power in the Twenty-first Century”. Page 17. 2000. Published by Springer 4) Pros and cons of nuclear power. http://timeforchange. org/pros-and-cons-of-nuclear-power-and-sustainability 5) World Nuclear association, “Safety of nuclear power reactors”. June 2008. on http://www. world-nuclear. org/info/inf06. html 6) http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/3072031/