Since the begining of human existence on the Earth, as days pass, men’s boundless endeavor to find out the universe has resulted in intriguing innovations having profound effects on every aspect of life. Probably, the most important achievement in this progress is our understanding of the real nature of an atom, the smallest and constituent part of matter. We have known atoms since the time when Greek philosophers lived, but we have just learned the tremendous and “hidden” energy that atoms contain. This great energy is released when an atom is split into ligther elements in nuclear reactors and is very useful for generating electricty. Today increasing energy consumption of the world is compelling mankind to find new approaches to produce electricity, and thus nuclear energy is being regarded as the most favourite candidate for the solution to this problem, but it certainly possesses some advantages and disadvantages to be considered.
On one hand, as most nuclear energy proponents say, its most significant advantage is that its production technology emits virtually no airborne pollutants, whereas a large number of harmful gases such as greenhouse gases and acidic gases are given out by non-nuclear power plants. In addition, the amount of waste material arising from the nuclear process is much less than that of fossil fuel-based plants.
On the other hand, although the amount of waste material produced by nuclear energy is relatively less than that of other waste materials, it has great risks which may bring about serious enviromental problems since raw and waste materials of nuclear power involve radioactive elements which need to be handled carefully. Otherwise, the process will definitely result in a disaster. In order to realize the magnitude of the danger, it is enough to consider that the raw material of an atom bomb is equal to a nuclear reactor. Many critics emphasize this great risk. Another disadvantage of nuclear enegy is that because of its sophisticated infrastructure and systems, nuclear power plants are much more expensive and time-consuming to build than coal-fired and gas-fired plants of the similar capacity.
To summarize, besides being air-friendly, nuclear energy is a highly effective and powerful way of producing electric energy. To illustrate, today, there are about 439 nuclear generating units throughout the world. About 104 of them are in the United States, producing approximately 20 percent of the nations’ total electric energy consumption. However, nuclear energy has a lot of drawbacks like extremely dangerous radioactive wastes and high cost prices. Considering all the facts, we can infer that a country using nuclear energy can meet most of its electricity consumption without polluting the atmosphere.