One of the most pressing issues of the modern world is the threat of global climate change altering the natural ecosystem irreparably. By burning fossil fuels, pollution from industrialization, and deforestation for urban development, humans have contributed enormously to rapid changes in the planet’s climate.
Bizarrely, despite the dangers presented by nuclear energy, some scientists suggest that nuclear power could be the best short-term answer to slowing the rate of climate change. This is a complicated issue, but today we’ll take a look at the big picture.
Roughly 76 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the burning of fossil fuels, according to ClimateWatch. Further, some 84 percent of the power used globally is from fossil fuels, according to data from BP. Only about four percent of global energy consumption is made up of power created by nuclear energy reactors.
This means that modern society is largely dependent on fossil fuels to function properly. As much as environmentalists insist that we move away from these energy sources, the modern world would suddenly come to a screeching halt if we were to stop using oil, gas, and coal altogether.
In order to stop this trend without rewriting the nature of modern life, we need to pivot away from burning fossil fuels and towards relying on electricity. Boilers, engines, and everything in between that operate by burning flammable fuels can be converted to an electrical replacement. The most common example of this is an electric car, which can be powered by plugging it into an outlet on the side of your house instead of filling it with gas.
This switch is so important that we can produce electricity through low-emissions technologies like solar and wind power. However, solar and wind alone won’t account for most of the world’s energy needs: there aren’t enough panels and windmills to keep up with the demand.
Until renewable energy can catch up, nuclear energy could be the best way to wean the world off fossil fuels. Nuclear energy, while potentially dangerous to produce, emits no greenhouse gasses and has no interaction with global climate change.
This is important, as renewables aren’t ready to take over most of the world’s power demand. Until the storage capacity for energy created by renewables becomes much greater, nuclear is the most sustainable way to cover the gap left by fossil fuels, according to some climate scientists.