Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities

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Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities

Category : Nuclear

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This graph shows a sharp increase in the production of energy in developing countries, and is projected to increase even more in the next 20 years.� This means that the increase of production for these countries needs to be accounted for in projections on how much time we have until natural resources run out.� While prices of natural resources are expected to stay low over the next few years, if we keep on the trend of increasing global consumption, resources are bound to run out.� The amount of time until this happens depends on efforts from countries to tap into renewable resources. ����������� Another major reason that it is essential that we begin work immediately on converting energy from renewable resources is the cost to the environment that fossil fuels cost.� The burning of fossil fuels in the conversion to energy creates waste of H2O and CO2.� While CO2 is a natural greenhouse gas, too much of it in the atmosphere has been proven to cause global warming.� Last year, emission of CO2 from fossil fuels was 6.2 billion tons, increasing fourfold from 1950 (Flavin and Dawn, 113).� The increase in emissions of CO2 are projected to increase even more dramatically in the next 20 years if we continue to increase the production of energy through the burning of fossil fuels.� The increasing trend of CO2 in the atmosphere overwhelms the natural cycling of carbon by oceans and forests and has brought the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to 29% above the pre-industrial level.� If the world stays on the current path of increasing emissions, it is possible that global temperature could increase by approximately 1-3.5 degrees Celsius (Schneider, 375).� Because of the complexity of the earth�s weather system, it is hard to predict the effects of the rapid change in the composition of the atmosphere, but some scientists have predicted such consequences as flooded cities, diminished food production, and increased storm damage (Schneider, 375).� Avoiding dangerous climate change will depend in large part on our ability to develop and continue to use renewable energy supplies. ����������� The solution to the problems of limited fossil fuels and their impact on the environment is to have renewable resources play a larger role in the supply of energy.� Converting sunlight, earth�s heat, wind, and nuclear power into energy could, in the next century, meet most of the world�s energy needs.� Technologies have become available to combine the use of heat and power, providing energy services far more efficiently than fossil fuels.� These technologies are much more clean than burning fossil fuels; the use of them could cut carbon emissions by 60-80% (Flavin and Dawn, 123).� Renewable resources such as geothermal and nuclear energy are clean and nearly inexhaustible.� An effort to move the world in the direction it needs to go in order to slow down the problem of climate change came in December of 1997 when representatives from 160 countries met in Kyoto, Japan to set goals and targets to lower carbon emissions.� Yet many countries, such as the United States, have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and have continued to use fossil fuels, despite having the technologies to use renewable and clean resources.� ����������� A major reason for countries not adopting the technologies of these renewable resources is the cost.� While it is almost sad to think that we are too worried about short-term monetary costs to invest in these technologies rather than avoiding the even larger costs that a dramatic climate change or international economic crisis would bring, it is still reality.� Any plant that converts a renewable resource into energy requires a very large initial capital investment.� What most people don�t know, is that once you can get past the initial payment, costs of energy will be almost identical to costs of energy converted from the burning of fossil fuels.� As of now, since there is still what seems to be a plentiful supply of fossil fuels, most countries have been avoiding the monetary cost of investing in these renewable resource plants and continue to get their energy from the burning of fossil fuels. ����������� There are a couple solutions to increase the incentive of investing in renewable resource plants.� Changes in policy are the fist way to move toward a larger use of renewable resources as the major sources of energy.� It is up to countries to make unilateral moves to create policies that will help move emission levels toward the goals of the Kyoto Protocol and avoid a possible economic crisis.� Greenhouse gas trends can be turned around with surprisingly modest shifts in policy (Flavin and Dawn, 114).� This push to overcome barriers of new technologies must come from the governments of individual countries, for it would become way too political to try to make an international agreement to set policies to overcome these barriers.� One policy option is to adjust fossil fuel prices so that they reflect environmental consequences (Flavin and Dawn, 127).� This would give renewable resources the opportunity to be economically competitive.� If prices of fossil fuels were raised, there would be no disincentive to invest in the renewable resource energy plants.� Another policy option is for the government to provide tax incentives and subsidies for installing equipment and generating electricity.� There are many countries that do this today: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, and The United States (Flavin and Dawn, 125).� Yet another policy option would be for the country to create set �purchase prices.�� This is where the government creates a law that sets a fixed price at which small renewable energy generators are provided access to the electricity grid (Flavin and Dawn, 126).� This gives renewable resource plants incentive to enter the market since they already have a guarantee that they will have access to the electricity grid, and even at a lower price than other energy plants.� This creates a competitive market atmosphere.� Countries that have adopted this policy include Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, and The United Kingdom (Flavin and Dawn, 125). ����������� While it is very difficult to turn scientific evidence and findings into policy because of the uncertainty of science and the short-term consequences of political action, it is time that countries do take action.� There has been overwhelming evidence that the world will run out of natural resources and that the burning of fossil fuels has, and will continue to cause degradation to our environment.� We do not have the luxury of ignoring or avoiding the problems anymore.� It is essential that governments create policy to stimulate the larger use of renewable resources.� Two major renewable resources that have the potential to play a large role in the future of the world�s energy are geothermal and nuclear power.

Pages: 23

Publisher: Congressional Research Service (January 4, 2014)

ISBN: B00HTQED2Y

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