Coal is formed from decayed plant matter that accumulated hundreds of millions of years ago. It is a non-renewable energy source and produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions when burnt.
Nuclear energy is cleaner while generating electricity. Nuclear fission provides energy without releasing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. However, nuclear power plants generate radioactive waste, a critical factor when doing a fossil fuel to nuclear power pollution comparison.
This is written by Professor Barry Brook, who is the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute. He runs a popular climate change and energy options blog at http://bravenewclimate.com
Try to find the elements of his writing that makes this piece persuasive.
Read Ian Lowe's opinion piece about nuclear power.
Ian’s been recognised as a leading climate change scientist for decades. He’s President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, and an adjunct professor at Flinders and Sunshine Coast Universities.
Following the tsunami which killed 19,000 people and which triggered the Fukushima nuclear accident (which killed no-one), public sentiment shifted markedly so that there were wide public protests calling for nuclear power to be abandoned. How does Japan generate power now?
Nuclear power produces nearly 20% of Germany's energy, but in July 2011 (only three months after Fukushima) the German government vowed to shut down its nuclear capability within 10 years. How is Germany coping now?
The task of neutralising and retrieving hundreds of tonnes of melted nuclear fuel turns out to be far greater than previously thought. So too might be the eventual cost, as well as the time that will be required to remedy the site –that is, if it can ever be fully remedied.
In 1958 Australia opened its first (and only) nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, a southern suburb of Sydney.
The nuclear reactor produces neutrons, subatomic particles found in the nucleus of all atoms, through the process of fission – the splitting of a large atom, such as uranium, into two smaller ones.
Should nuclear energy be part of Australia’s (and many other countries') future energy mix? We think so, particularly as part of a solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent dangerous climate change.