Why Nuclear Power Is Bad

nuclear power bad

It’s now becoming apparent that the world must look beyond nuclear energy to address the unfolding climate emergency and understand why nuclear power is bad.

The tediously slow nuclear energy programs in the wake of a looming climate threat, and the continued threats posed by nuclear energy, offset the praises on nuclear power regarding decarbonization and the capacity factor.

Sure, nuclear energy may have elements of safety, efficiency, stability, and speed of deployment, but why the delay when we can invest heavily in safer and cost-effective alternatives and hit the 2050 net zero target?

Thankfully, the reality has dawned on governments, who have noticed the danger and costs of nuclear monopoly. Consequently, they’ve started significantly reducing their nuclear reliance, with countries like France recently shutting down dozens of nuclear reactors.

Globally, over 200 nuclear reactors were permanently shut down in the last 12 months, and the US recorded the largest number of shutdowns, with 41 units.

It’s just the tip of the iceberg on why nuclear power is bad. Below are more nuclear energy bad or rather terrible impacts.

9 Reasons Why Nuclear Is Bad for A Green and Peaceful World

1 – Monopoly Fuels Demand

Nuclear energy is reliable and robust, but having it as the dominant power supplier could exacerbate the current climate change crisis.

With increasing power demands day by day, it is expected that nuclear facilities will need more uranium and other raw materials.

Uranium, the major raw material in nuclear energy programs, is energy-intensive to mine and transport.

Therefore, increasing demand for nuclear-reliant countries will mean more exploitation and carbon emissions throughout the production process.

Instead, the 32 countries running nuclear energy programs should substitute some of these energy demands and resources with renewable alternatives to mitigate pollution from uranium mining. Replacing the two would drastically reduce energy costs and set a good precedent.

2 – Nuclear Proliferation

Talking about setting a good precedent, more countries, including the unstable and the highly corrupt, are getting their hands on nuclear reactors for energy independence.

Unfortunately, nuclear energy and weaponry are deeply intertwined and with the technology becoming globally available, there’s a high risk of misuse, mishandling, or deadly terrorist attacks.

While the 1970 Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons sought to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, the world is getting wearier of nuclear war amid the notable saber-rattling.

Besides the weaponry, building and operating a nuclear facility requires advanced technologies and planning expertise to prevent accidents and pollution.

However, without proper oversight and guidelines, uninspected nuclear plant constructions and operations put staff and the world at grave risk. 

3 – Why Nuclear Power is Bad – Nuclear Waste

Radioactivity in nuclear waste is another reason why nuclear power is bad. In other words, these materials can actively emit radiation for tens and hundreds of thousands of years, meaning we’re making a significant problem for our descendants to manage for centuries.

Mark you, nuclear radiation is unlike the visible electromagnetic radiation from a light bulb. Instead, nuclear fission emits gamma rays with over 100,000 more energy than visible light.

Other emissions associated with the radioactive material are beta particles made of highly energetic electrons, and alpha particles consisting of tiny clusters of protons and neutrons. These emissions are incredibly damaging and highly associated with cancer.

The future is murky, given that the nuclear industry is struggling to find long-term storage for this highly radioactive waste. As a result, nuclear plants are turning to potentially less safe and more costly alternatives.

4 – Threat to National Security

National security is also threatened if nuclear power programs are not controlled and discouraged. Previous scenarios, such as the Hiroshima atomic bombing during the Second World War, inform the need to eradicate this menace.

An attack using nuclear weapons or targeting nuclear facilities could cause devastation across the region and lead to widespread contamination with highly radioactive materials. In other words, nuclear facilities are riskier than other readily available energy programs.

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is probably the latest testament to that. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis can jeopardize the lives of millions of citizens as chemicals explode and radioactive material is released into the air and water bodies.

Human error and the emergence of war, like what is currently happening at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in eastern Ukraine, remind us of the disaster that killed over 30 people on the spot there and left many others in dire health conditions in Eastern Europe and Russia.

5 – Not Feasible in the Long Run

Besides only contributing to about 10% of the total world energy output, nuclear programs are energy-intensive and too demanding and that’s another reason why nuclear power is bad. There are around 440 active nuclear plants globally, and we need about 30 times that number to meet current and future energy needs.

The number is certainly unrealistic given that there are only a little over 50 facilities under construction, most marred by cost overruns and delays due to unprecedented demands for capital, fuel, and maintenance to withstand the energy-intensive production.

Besides the pollutant uranium extraction process, the construction and deconstruction of nuclear plants may also leave a notable carbon footprint.

There’s also no space to build thousands of nuclear facilities necessary to meet current and future energy needs. Nuclear energy programs need plenty of water for cooling and places safe from hurricanes, flooding, drought, or other major natural disasters.

There are only limited feasible sites with these attributes, and the current global warming rate could make the situation dire for nuclear facilities. For example, heat waves witnessed in France and the US have led to intermittent plant shutdowns to mitigate risks.

6 – Extremely High Expenses

The high production and maintenance costs are another problem that makes nuclear energy bad for a green and peaceful world. To make the matter worse, the costs are soaring, unlike the falling prices for other energy sources.

As a result, it is becoming hard to construct and operate nuclear facilities to meet energy demands quickly. On average, nuclear power plants take about 10 years to complete, making it hard to use this medium to address climate emergencies or increasing energy demands.

For example, France’s EPR nuclear reactor technology in Flamanville has been championed as a revolutionary technology using a next-generation reactor. However, the project is now ten years overdue, with cost overruns exceeding four times the initial budget.

7 – Inefficiency of Nuclear Energy Conversion

One of the lesser-discussed reasons why nuclear power is bad is the inefficiency of its energy conversion process. Only a fraction of the nuclear fuel’s potential energy is converted into usable electricity. The rest is lost as heat in the process, requiring massive amounts of water for cooling and leading to thermal pollution in nearby water bodies. This inefficiency highlights not only a waste of resources but also a significant environmental impact that often goes overlooked compared to the more direct threats of radiation or waste management.

Why nuclear power is bad

8 – Limited Availability of Uranium

Another point against nuclear power is the limited availability of uranium, the primary fuel used in nuclear reactors. Uranium is a non-renewable resource, and its extraction is both environmentally damaging and energetically costly. With the current rate of consumption, we’re looking at a finite timeline in which uranium might become scarce, making nuclear power an unsustainable long-term energy solution. This scarcity also leads to geopolitical tensions, as countries vie for control over uranium supplies, further complicating the global energy landscape.

9 – Lack of Public Support

Lastly, public perception and lack of support play a crucial role in why nuclear power is bad for future energy planning. The potential dangers associated with nuclear power, from catastrophic disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima to the long-term issues of waste management and environmental impact, have led to widespread public apprehension. This lack of support makes it difficult for governments and industries to pursue nuclear power as a viable energy alternative, hindering its development and implementation despite any potential benefits it may offer. The social and political complications of advancing nuclear power often outweigh its advantages, leading to stalled projects and a preference for safer, more sustainable energy sources.

Nuclear Energy is bad for Sustainability

The negative environmental impacts associated with nuclear power, as well as the dangers and costs of operation, are some of the reasons why nuclear power is bad for the world.

We’re in a climate crisis, and continued investment in nuclear power is only counterproductive.

Uranium exploitation has done injustice to the country and has left many suffering from lung cancer and non-utilizable land.

Besides, nuclear proliferation presents a looming threat to our security if any party decides to leverage the program to make deadly weaponry.

Therefore, continued funding of nuclear energy is bad for other safer and renewable sources whose financing is already scarce. An increase in nuclear capacity will only lead to competition for funding for cost-effective and eco-friendly renewable sources.