40 pages on Nuclear Power

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Jessica Krajewski
Environment and Politics 2013
40 pages on Nuclear Power
1. What were your ideas/opinions of nuclear power before doing the readings?
Before the readings, I do not have a very well-developed idea or opinion on Nuclear power. All I
really understand about it is that it is an underdeveloped, dangerous, but less harmful for the
environment form of alternative energy. I have only really heard the bad things about it before I
began to look more into it for this assignment. I have only been told about the disastrous effects
a plant can cause if something goes wrong. I tried to do some research before the readings to
get a better understanding of what I was about to form an opinion on and found that this is a
form of electricity that has been developing since the 1950s and yet, the public still knows very
little of this to a degree that they can form an actual and knowledgeable opinion about it. That is
my problem as well. I don’t know enough about it to form an opinion or a fully developed idea
about it yet.
2. List each article you read, note the number of pages, and give a brief summary of each.
“How Nuclear Power Works” – 6 pages
This article takes a fairly neutral stance looking at both sides of the ideas formed about nuclear
power. It explains what nuclear power is, inside and out, as well as discusses the positive
advantages and the negative disadvantages. Atomic energy offers a clean energy alternative
that frees us from the dependence of fossil fuels. However, it also summons issues and images
of disaster. Some general advantages of nuclear power is that it does not depend on nuclear
power, it is not affected by fluctuating gas and oil prices, CO2 emission are minimal, and it
requires a lighter fuel requirement. However, some disadvantages include an unclean system of
mining and purifying uranium, contamination risk from the transportation of nuclear fuel, and
spent fuel is still radioactive so it cannot just be dumped off anywhere. In order to turn nuclear
fission into electrical energy, nuclear power plant operators have to control the energy given off
by the enriched uranium and allow it to heat water into steam. On the outside, extra
precautions are required. Nuclear facilities feature security perimeters and added personnel to
help protect sensitive materials.
“Media Discourse and Public Opinion on Nuclear Power: A Constructionist Approach” – 36 pages
This journal looks at the idea that media discourse and public opinion are treated as two parallel
systems of constructing meaning. I chose this as one of my readings because it took the
approach of explaining nuclear power through the way that the media portrays it and the public
forms opinions on it. I also liked it because, though you could tell which side the writer took on
nuclear power, the journal was written to be unbiased and was fairly successful at this which
made it more informative and allowed me to form my own conclusions. Certainly nuclear energy
development is not free of problems but problems that can be solved, as the history of
technological progress shows. The failure to develop nuclear power will slow our economic
growth and make us go back on our obligation to future generations.
3. How have your ideas/opinions about nuclear power become more informed, more nuanced or
sophisticated, and has anything shifted in your support, opposition, confusion, or other stance in
relation to before the readings?
Nuclear power is not without its faults but nuclear reactors have multiple protective barriers
that continue to be monitored and developed. Overall, I am for any form of energy that will not
only move us away from our dependence on fossil fuels, but also move us towards a cleaner
form of energy as compared to coal and oil. Problems do need to be fixed, like storage and
transportation, but those are things that can be further developed if nuclear power is given the
focus that it needs to succeed. We will get a higher amount of energy per fuel output, very
minimal CO2 emissions, and a form of energy that that will not fluctuate in price as coal and oil
does. To me, to focus on nuclear energy would help to improve it and nuclear plants have
already learned from their mistakes making major disasters even less likely as time goes on.
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