Since nuclear energy does not depend on fossil fuels, it offers benefits including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fluctuating oil or gas prices. As of 2014, the worldwide fleet of nuclear reactors reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 2 billion metric tons each year.
Greenhouse gases are a contributing factor to global warming. The primary reason for the increase in these gases is the increasing dependence on fossil fuels. Coal- and gas-fired plants also create other forms of pollution that affect human health. Switching to nuclear energy could further reduce pollution and help the United States reach its goal of lowering such emissions.
A properly operating nuclear generator releases less radioactivity into the atmosphere than similarly sized coal-generating plant, according to How Stuff Works. However, each reactor generates 20 metric tons of high-class nuclear waste each year. The waste produces heat and radiation that eventually corrodes through any container in which it is sealed. While nuclear decay eventually renders the waste as harmless, the process takes thousands of years.
While China has plans to bring more nuclear generators on-line, the use of nuclear energy is decreasing in many other locations. After the multiple meltdowns of a reactor due to an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Japan is turning away from nuclear energy. Public opinion in the United States and many other countries makes approval of new reactors difficult.Learn More
According to the World Nuclear Association, as of April 2014, 31 countries derive some of their electrical power from nuclear energy. Furthermore, 56 countries have nuclear reactors dedicated to scientific research. All total there are 430 commercial power-generating nuclear plants, 240 research reactors and 180 nuclear power plants providing electricity for ships at sea.Full Answer >
Today, nuclear energy is used to some degree to provide electricity to many countries as well as act as the main fuel source for marine propulsion for ships in many navies. In some countries, such as France, nuclear energy is the primary source for electricity generation, according to the World Nuclear Association.Full Answer >
Nuclear pollution is caused by a range of human activities that relate to the creation of fuel for nuclear energy and the construction of nuclear weapons. The process of mining and processing uranium ores to create fuel for nuclear power and weapons also generates byproducts that are radioactive.Full Answer >
Atomic energy, also referred to as nuclear energy, is used to generate electricity, and has applications in the fields of agriculture, medicine, research and industry, too. Atomic energy contains highly active radioisotopes, which are various forms of atoms comprised of the same chemical elements. These isotopes share many chemical properties, but have different volumes of relative atomic masses, which makes them suitable for different chemical, electrical, engineering and industrial practices.Full Answer >