Archive for 'AlanM'
Nuclear Power is often talked about as the new “clean” energy to replace some of our dependencies on fossil fuels. But people are also afraid of nuclear power. The word nuclear carries associations with bombs, disasters, cancer, and danger. Neither of those previous statements are fully accurate, and it is important to understand why.
First off, nuclear power, though far cleaner than most fossil fuel alternatives, is not fully clean. It does produce waste, in the form of depleted radioactive substances and irradiated materials. This is a problem which has to be addressed if we are to continue working on nuclear energy plants. Obtaining the nuclear material used is also a hazard. It too must be mined out of the earth with some of the same environmental destruction as mining coal. Although it is cleaner than coal plants, it is certainly not spot-free.
How does it work?
Our nuclear power plants run off of what is called a fission reaction, that is the splitting of an atom to produce vast quantities of energy. It is important not to confuse fission with its opposite, fusion. A fusion reaction (fusing two atoms together) is speculated to be more powerful and therefore cleaner. Unfortunately though our research tells us it is a better method of obtaining energy, we have not been able to master the process yet. So for now fission is all we get, but it definitely gets the job done.
Just how dangerous is this strange new science to utilize? Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and now the Japanese nuclear crisis, don’t these disasters mean its too dangerous to use? False. The fact is these disasters are few and far between. They are also portrayed as worse than they actually are by the media. In Japan right now, most of the nuclear material released by the power plant has a half-life of about 8 days. That means half of it is gone in about a week, half that in one more, and so on and so forth. If you pick up a sunday paper or click the link below there is a wonderful article by Seth Borenstein which makes understanding our perception of nuclear power far easier than I could make it.
These are the notes on the different factors which can be responsible for raising or lowering the birth and death rate of a nation. If you have any questions regarding what is here, let me know!
Rate of Natural Increase = CBR – CDR/10 = AGR % (ignoring migration)
CBR/TFR/RF = Birth Factors:
Infant mortality rate (up) = Births (up)
Contraceptive availability (up) = Births (down)
Abortion (up) = Births (down)
Industrialization (up) = Births (down)
Value of child labor (down) = Births (down)
Cost of raising kids (up) = Births (down)
Women’s rights (up) = Births (down)
Average age of marriage (up) = Births (down)
Religion/culture/government = WILD CARD
CDR/IMR/LE = Death Factors:
Medicine advances (up) = Deaths (down)
Sanitation (up) = Deaths (down)
Conflict (up) = Deaths (up)
Epidemic (up) = Deaths (up)
Our most pressing environmental issue is dependence on oil resources across the globe. Non-renewable energy resources are not only detrimental to the environment, but will become increasingly more economically hurtful as well.