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Nuclear power. Just the mention of these two words triggers a sense

of panic, fear and hysteria in many. We are generally quick to

associate the words nuclear power with tragic incidents, like the

Fukushima accident in March 2013 or the Chernobyl disaster in

1986. Yet, the reality is that nuclear power is one of the safest and

cleanest methods of generating electricity. Australia has the most

known uranium resources worldwide, almost 31% of the world’s

total. Nevertheless, we use no nuclear power whatsoever. Are we

too dependent on coal and other fossil fuels to produce electricity?

Or have we grown a misconceived fear of nuclear power, to even

consider it as part of our future?

We should look to France, as nuclear energy is its primary source

of power. Approximately 75% of its electricity is derived from nuclear

power. In contrast, Australia relies heavily on fossil fuels, especially

coal. According to the World Bank, in 2012, 95.4% of Australia’s

energy consumption was from fossil fuels. Enormous amounts of

greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere from burning

fossil fuels. These greenhouse gases play a key role in the worldwide

crisis of global warming. In addition, Australia is among one of the

highest per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world. Scientists

predict that a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius will

result in the disappearance of 25% of the Earth’s plants and animals.

Should we just sit back and watch as we destroy our ecosystems? We

can change this by switching to alternative methods of energy, like

nuclear power.

Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases. A

nuclear power station works by nuclear fission, which is the splitting

of the nucleus of atoms. Massive amounts of energy are released

when atoms split. Moreover, nuclear fission only produces small

amounts of waste. Nuclear fission is also extremely effective, as two

hundred and fifty grams of uranium produces twenty thousand

times more electricity than the same amount of coal.

In spite of this, many argue that nuclear power can have devastating

repercussions as there are lots of risks affiliated with it. For instance,

the terrible Chernobyl incident in Ukraine in 1986 killed 30 people

and injured countless more. Similarly, the dreadful Fukushima

meltdown in Japan in 2013, demonstrated the detrimental effects that

radiation can have on our health. Additionally nuclear power reactors

are quite costly to build. Some also contend that nuclear power will

Nuclear Power

In Australia

Sarah Cheang

Orator of the Year