The Cost of a Colorful Diaper

The Cost of a Colorful Diaper

 

May 29, 2017 · 3 min read

When contemporary thinkers critique consumerism, it is all too often done in the abstract. With notable exceptions, the immense waste and inefficiency of a world economy driven by absurd desires rather than essential needs is attacked with anecdotes or theory, rather than exhaustive exploration. Bearing this in mind, let’s dissect one particularly ludicrous product, and the cost that such a product exacts on our world.

Any parent, babysitter, or unfortunate family member can tell you the wonder of the disposable diaper. This product liberated generations of caretakers from the unenviable task of washing soiled diapers. Notable about these products, however, is the wide array of art and embellishment they bare. Even the most generic brands of diaper feature some kind of artistic flare.

Making diapers prettier seems innocent enough at first glance; however, considering their purpose, the fact that most every brand of disposable diaper features colorful patterns and images is nothing short of obscene.

The images themselves only exist to sell more product. They don’t improve the lives of the child, nor do they particularly benefit the care taker. A clear counter to the age old fable of the “rational actor” in economics, putting patterns and images on diapers is inarguably and indefensibly wasteful. To be blunt, we are expending resources and exploiting laborers so that we can make our toddler’s defecation-receptacles more visually appealing.

While on its surface the wastefulness of these images might seem insignificant, closer examination reveals the disturbingly large impact of these needlessly colorful fecal-vehicles.

For most disposable diapers, the patterns and images are added through an adhesive plastic film on which the images are printed before being applied to the diaper itself. This film makes up roughly 3% of each diaper by weight. Excluding the coloring and adhesive, this means that each diaper requires .84 grams of polyethylene plastic to be fashionable.

Once again, this doesn’t seem like a significant amount of waste. But with the United States using twenty-seven billion (yes billion) disposable diapers in 2008, that waste of .84 grams of plastic/diaper becomes twenty-three billion grams, or fifty million pounds of wasted plastic.

That’s fifty million pounds of non biodegradable, virtually everlasting, ocean polluting, fossil-fuel supporting polyethylene, all so our babies can have visually appealing soil-sacks.

But the waste doesn’t end there.

In order for the paintings we put on our poop-pouches to really stand out, disposable diaper manufacturers use liquid chlorine to bleach the diaper-fiber white. Environmental concerns aside (including the fact that many chlorine plants still use mercury to this day), the electrolyzation of chlorine gas requires three-thousand kWh of electricity per metric tonne of chlorine in ideal conditions. Assuming the absolute best figures available (with each diaper using only .05 grams of chlorine to bleach its fiber white), we are still using around four million kWh of electricity to dye dung-drawers in the United States every year. That is enough electricity to power one hundred and thirty four thousand homes for a day.

At this point, the cost of consumerism should be painfully clear. Looking at only two of the resources needlessly expended on diapers, it is obvious that our consumer based economy has not produced innovation and efficiency, but rather crippling waste. Without even discussing the workers who spend their lives putting cartoons on crap-catchers, or questioning the necessity of disposable diapers in the first place, the egregious distribution of resources that capitalism begets is plain to see.

Instead of dedicating our labor and resources towards preventing the starvation of three million children every year, instead of striving for advances in science and technology, and instead of working towards protecting our future, consumerism has driven us to trade these utopian dreams for fashionable fart-fluffers.

While we waste billions of dollars making shit sacks pretty, 13 million American children live in hunger. We are responsible for that suffering, and only dramatic reform, and an abandonment of our grossly opulent lifestyles, can end it.

So, rather than continuing to describe the horrors of consumerism through abstract ideas and theoretically based argumentation, let us instead simply remember the cost of a colorful diaper.

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Population Growth: Two Sides

On one side of the population growth discussion, there are many experts who believe that it is one of the most pressing issues facing our world today. One environmentalist who believes this is Reid Bryson, who explained that with even half the population in India, one of the most productive countries in the world, the same quantity of goods would be made. He also points out that people would be significantly more wealthy if there was less money to go around.

Another argument against growth is the use of resources required to sustain a population that is exponentially rising. Many argue that we have a limited number of resources such as land, food, gas, and oil. This means that the higher the population, the less supplies that each person has access too. Environmentalists like Paul Arlick predict famine and starvation in the future, which has happened to an extent, because of the lack of resources.

Experts like Howard Oclum also stress the importance of the conservation of fossil fuels and energy. These are nonrenewable resources that need to be rationed accordingly, as the study of Ecological Economics supports. This side of the argument of population growth believes that cautious use of these sources is just as important as slowly decreasing the population, as they correlate in this instance.

Some of the experts on this side of the discussion suggest more severe methods to insure the decrease of population growth- many say it is necessary that people stop reproducing, including Arlick himself. This means using birth control much more than we do as a population right now, as well as sterilization. Though none of the interviewed environmentalists mentioned this in the film, some extremists argue for infanticide as well.

On the other side of the debate are people who believe that the human population should either remain stable or increase. The most outspoken expert on this belief is Julian Simon, who believes that we can support a high population. He mentions that we have adapted to surviving by means of agriculture, medicine, and more, and this shows that we are able to properly maintain a population. Simon admires the capacity we have as humans and thinks we can stand to grow the population even more. He also states that materials are actually less scarce, especially because our rate of production has increased so greatly. Simon’s argument is one believed by many of this point of view: our production of resources is faster than the population’s growth.

More conservative experts like Marion Clawson cautiously agree with Simon’s ideas, stating that though there is no advantage to growing the population, there is no disadvantage either. He believes that because poverty-stricken regions have lower reproduction rates, only populations that can be sustained are now growing.

From studying this film and reading our class’ text, I see more reasons against population growth. The argument that we need to conserve resources and care for the planet are much stronger than those of selfishly growing the population, even when developing countries are starving and dying off. Most experts who argue against decreasing the population agree that there isn’t a real advantage to growing it either- in this case, it is better safe than sorry.

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Pollution: An Overview

On earth there are more than 1.5 million species of living creatures, including us humans. In terms of mass there are 75 billion tons of biomass that comes from the inhabitants of our planet (“How Many Living Things”). Why does the human species continue to pollute the Earth with so much at stake? From leather tanning and mining, to the industrialization in our modern age, pollution has always existed in our society, which may be why so many people see no problem with it (“Pollution History”). The effects of pollution started getting noticed around the world in the middle of the twentieth century (History.com Staff). Pollution in our air, oceans, and on land is slowly killing our planet and everything on it, if something can’t be done soon there may not be a habitable earth for future generations.

Pollution is the result of many disasters each and every year. One of the worst kind of these disasters is oil spills in the ocean. The marine environment is by far the biggest victim of these oil spills, and also one of our most valuable resources. According to Hong Mei:

“A healthy and normal marine ecosystem has the environmental, economic, and social values that other natural ecosystems cannot replace. The marine ecosystem serves the need for human beings’ survival, development and enjoyment in the form of material products. Meanwhile, it provides comfortable services for human beings in the form of immaterial products to enhance human beings’ life style. Besides, the ocean has important service functions of ecosystem. Service functions of the marine ecosystem, refers to the benefits people derive from the marine ecosystem, including functions of supply, regulation, culture and support. It maintains the life-supporting system for humans’ survival and development” (Mei and Yin).

In this decade alone, approximately 350 oil spills have been reported . The oil from these spills ravages local marine life, small organisms can get stuck in the oil while larger one can be suffocated by it (Jernelöv). If something isn’t done, we can lose many valuable marine species.

Air pollution harms one of the most important parts of our earth, the ozone layer. Without the ozone layer the inhabitants of earth would fry and the oceans would boil away. Carbon dioxide is the main pollutant in our air, it comes from cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities. Anything that burns fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. Another common pollutant in the air is methane, which comes from livestock and chlorofluorocarbons, used in aerosol products (Essick). Air pollution has been shown to be a significant cause of cardiovascular disease, the link between diesel particles and pulmonary inflammation being an example (Chin).  Many Americans live in zones where air pollution is prevalent, these individuals experience eye irritation, wheezing, lung problems, and an increased risk of heart attack (Bhor). Air pollution also affects other organisms. It affects plant growth, phytoplankton in the ocean, as well as terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemical cycles (“Health and Environment”). Air pollution spans across ecosystems, and doesn’t only affect humans, though we are the prime contributor.

When someone mentions pollution, many people don’t think about soil pollution. Soil pollution is a series problem happening across the globe. Various organic and inorganic compounds are found in soil, but when these level rise to a point where they can harm human health or the ecosystem it causes soil pollution (“What is Soil Pollution?).  There are a couple prime factors in soil pollution such as drilling in oil wells, mining activities, chemical fertilizers, and industrial accidents, just to name a few (“What is Soil Pollution and its Types”). Soils pollution can harm any living creatures, coming from either direct contact with with the polluted soil or from contact with other sources, such as food or water that has come in contact with the soil(“Soil Pollution”). When this type of pollution comes into contact with farmland it can have adverse effects on human health. Some heavy metals that pollute soils can cause irreversible developmental damage in children, and can cause liver and kidney damage to people of any age (Kennedy).

One specific example of pollution in the modern age is in Flint, Michigan. What is often called the flint water crisis began in 2014, when the cities water source was changed. Due to the change, the city could not keep up with the water treatment that needed to keep the water safe, and the new pipes were seeping lead into the water supply. This led to the majority of the populated being exposed to lead at seven times the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable limit. The pollution in the water caused rashes, skin irritation, one of the largest outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease, and an increase in pneumonia deaths (Hanna-Attisha). The Flint crisis is ongoing, there is still no known timeframe as to when the citizens of Flint will have safe water.

April 10, 2010 began the largest oil spill in history, induced by the Deepwater Horizon. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is a prime example of pollution caused by humans. The costs from this catastrophe were immense, there were 11 casualties and 17 wounded, among the thousands of birds, mammals, and sea turtles that were gravely affected. Over 1,200 whales and dolphins were found beached by the end of 2015, many with oil in their lungs (Pallardy). Over 4.9 million barrels of oil flowed out into the gulf, covering roughly sixty eight square miles of ocean (Shultz). Coral in the path of the spill was covered in a brown, flocculant material and showed signs of recent and ongoing tissue damage, not seen anywhere else at the time (Hsing). If the events of Deepwater Horizon were to repeat, it could spell disaster for Earth.

There are dozens of way we can prevent and reduce pollution in the world today. These methods range from things you can do everyday in your home like recycling and composting your trash to more widespread measures like governmental regulations and cleanup efforts. The average person can help reduce air pollution by using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, limiting driving, using electric and hand powered lawn equipment, and remembering to turn off electronics when not in use (“What can I do?”). To reduce marine pollution you can eat sustainable seafood, use reusable plastic water bottles, pick up garbage and litter near beaches, and properly disposing of hazardous materials (“10 Things”). There are also solutions for industrial pollution. There is waste treatment, but that can only go so far, and the general public and reduce consumption of the product (“Solutions”). The United States Government has already taken measures to reduce pollution in the country. For example, in 1992 congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act, and in 2007 George W. Bush signed executive order 13423 (“Pollution Prevention”).

“Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined” (Daigle). Though the different kind of pollutions have different outcomes, they all have adverse effects on the earth and its inhabitants, as proven by the many pollution related disasters. Pollution is slowly making our planet a worse place, and it may not be the same for future generations of something isn’t done soon. Will you be the one to do something?

 

 

 

Works Cited

Bhor, Rohit J; Damdhar, Harshala; Kokate, Geeta; Salve, Maduri; Andhale, Swati. Asian Journal of Research in Chemistry; Raipur Vol. 9, Iss. 8,  (Aug 2016): 385-390.

Chin, Michael T. Heart; London Vol. 101, Iss. 4,  (Feb 2015): 253.

Daigle, Katy. “Pollution Killing More People Every Year than Wars, Disasters and Hunger, Study Says.” Chicagotribune.com, Chicago Tribune, 20 Oct. 2017, www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/science/ct-deadly-pollution-study-20171019-story.html.

Essick, Peter. “Air Pollution Causes, Effects, and Solutions.” Causes, Effects, and Solutions, 17 Oct. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/pollution/.

Hanna-Attisha, Mona, MD, MPH, FAAP. American Journal of Public Health; Washington Vol. 107, Iss. 5,  (May 2017): 651-652.

“Health and Environmental Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 28 Dec. 2016, www.epa.gov/ozone-layer-protection/health-and-environmental-effects-ozone-layer-depletion.

History.com Staff. “Water and Air Pollution.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/water-and-air-pollution.

“How Many Living Things Are There?” UCSB Science Line, 11 Jan. 2007, scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1388.

Hsing, Helen K. WhitePen-Yuan, et al. “Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on a Deep-Water Coral Community in the Gulf of Mexico.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 11 Dec. 2012, www.pnas.org/content/109/50/20303.

Jernelöv, Arne. Ambio; Stockholm Vol. 39, Iss. 5/6,  (Jul 2010): 353-66.

Kennedy, A.L. “The Effects of Soil Pollution on Humans.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 13 June 2017, www.livestrong.com/article/176005-the-effects-of-soil-pollution-on-humans/.

Mei, Hong; Yin, Yanjie. Journal of Ocean University of China. JOUC; Dordrecht Vol. 8, Iss. 3,  (Sep 2009): 312-316.

Pallardy, Richard. “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/event/Deepwater-Horizon-oil-spill-of-2010#ref326310.

“Pollution History.” The History of Pollution, www.pages.drexel.edu/~ral28/histor~1.htm.

“Pollution Prevention Law and Policies.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 7 Sept. 2017, www.epa.gov/p2/pollution-prevention-law-and-policies.

Shultz, James M; Walsh, Lauren; Garfin, Dana Rose; Wilson, Fiona E; Neria, Yuval. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research; New York Vol. 42, Iss. 1,  (Jan 2015): 58-76.

“Soil Pollution.” Everythingconnects.org, www.everythingconnects.org/soil-pollution.html.

“Solutions for Industrial Pollution.” Mission 2015: Industrial Pollution Solutions, web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2015/2015/solutions_for_industrial_pollution.html.

“What Can I Do to Help Reduce Air Pollution?” – Air Quality Monitoring and Data Program – NH Department of Environmental Services, www.des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/air/tsb/ams/aqmdp/share.htm

“What Is Soil Pollution?” What Is Soil Pollution | Environmental Pollution Centers, www.environmentalpollutioncenters.org/soil/.

.“10 Things You Can Do to Save the Oceans.” Oceana, oceana.org/living-blue/10-things-you-can-do.

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Nuclear, Power for The Future

     

One of the largest threats to the environment is global warming; scientists and experts cite fossil fuels as one of the major factors in climate change. It just so happens that a substantial amount of the human race’s energy is generated by the burning of fossil fuels, therefore it is logical to find an alternative source of power. When one considers the possible substitutes, it may seem as though alternative sources of power have underdeveloped technology and are rendered impractical for mass use or the sources do not generate a significant amount of energy and consequently fail to meet the needs of the human race; however, they pale in comparison to the power of nuclear energy.

One of the before mentioned complications with the current energy sources is their vast impact on the environment. Some energy sources like coal and oil produce high amounts of CO2 gas which is one of the leading causes of the greenhouse effect among other emissions. When taking measurements on the emissions from power sources, it is important to look at all of the sources that emissions can come from in the line of production, from when the materials are extracted from the earth to when they are used. So effects from processes such as emissions from mining equipment to transportation, or other various processes which would cause pollutants to enter the air, and that’s the way this study conducted it.

Perhaps the most important result of this analysis is the tabulation of CO2 emission rates for the non-coal facilities. This leads to the realization that in contrast to popular belief, the nuclear and wind facilities are not zero-emission energy sources and that when a proper accounting method is used, values ranging from 8 to 17 tonnes of CO2/GWeh are calculated. Certainly, the CO2 emissions from non-fossil fuel sources are much smaller than the ≈974 tonnes CO2/GWeh from coal-fired power plants (as well as natural gas and oil-fired units) ( White 5 ).

so although this shows that nuclear and other forms of renewable/alternative energy are not 100% clean, it does show that they can easily range from 50 – 100 times cleaner than what is achievable using fossil fuels. Margins like that would be able to make a gigantic difference to the environment if we were to consider converting from coal to nuclear. Although when speaking of coal power you need to acknowledge the use of “clean coal” power plants. You have most likely heard this term used before, but you may not know what it means. Clean coal power plants are power plants that use many varying methods to try and reduce the emissions, one of witch filtering the emissions before they get outside into the environment, this is done via the use of membranes that can be placed along the emissions system to capture specific chemicals in the gas being released.  The Journal of Membrane Science wrote about some of the technology that is used in these systems

To make such large reductions in CO2 emissions while still using coal combustion as a low-cost means of generating power is a significant challenge. Currently, a variety of technologies are being evaluated for their ability to capture CO2 from power plant flue gas. None of the capture options is a clear winner at this point. The most commercial-ready technology – amine absorption – is costly, energy intensive, and if implemented, would result in large increases in the cost of producing electricity (Merkel 13).

This study shows that even in the opinion of the field professionals that the technology for membranes is not adequate to effectively clean the emissions of the plants, let alone to do it in a cost-effective way. Both of which are extremely important when it comes to the notion of clean coal power production. This is just one of the reasons that “clean coal” is just effectively a buzzword as of right now, and the practice of using it does not and can not actually exist in the modern world.

Other major factors that are important to look at when talking energy sources is the different cost of each source of energy. Generally, when you measure the cost of electricity you use cost-per-kilowatt-hour, and what this means is the cost of using 1000 watts of power in an hour. Now when looking at the different costs, we will go through a few nonrenewable, and renewable power sources, such as coal, petroleum, nuclear and solar. We are also going to go through these from highest to lowest cost. Starting out with petroleum, the cost to produce in the year 2000 was around 6-7 cents per kilowatt-hour, but since then the price has skyrocketed to around 21 cents in 2011. This massive boost in cost can be gone into with a paper of its own, ranging from not only the reserves of it becoming less and less common but also instability in the Middle East. Whatever the reason is for the price hike though, the cost shows that it is not viable for power anymore. Then there is solar power that as of 2017 is able to produce power at a low of 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Though this is a lot lower than petroleum, the size that solar takes up is huge, and it is not really a reliable source of energy, because of how much production can vary, but also with the fact that it can only produce in the day. Next up is coal, coal can produce at around half the cost of what solar does, with only 3.23 cents per kilowatt-hour, but has started to have a slight upward trend in cost and this can be for a few reasons, but it is not that significant of a rise. Then we come to nuclear power, the lowest cost of all power sources, being at only 2.19 cents per kilowatt-hour as of 2011, and has been on a very slight downward trend. There are a few reasons the cost of nuclear power is so low, one of them is that with nuclear power, the fuel, although more costly to transport and buy per-pound, the reactors are more efficient and can use fewer materials for an exceedingly longer time.

Along with cost to produce electricity, the efficiency of the powerplants is a major characteristic when you are analyzing different kinds of power plants. To measure the efficiency of power plants you take the Btu, (British Thermal Unit) the standard amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. And divide the Btu used to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity. (I did these calculations myself to save you the time of reading over countless numbers and figures for this paragraph) When converting these into percentages nuclear power plants run at around 33%-37% efficiency, with the newer Generation IV reactors easily working at above 45%. Now at first, this may seem low, but let’s compare that figure to other forms of power. Coal can run at 33% efficiency, the best ones doing about 40% when well maintained and with quality fuel. Then you can compare that with other clean power sources, take solar for example, it may be extremely clean, but only runs at an efficiency of around 15%-20%, by far making nuclear one of the best clean power sources.

Efficiency isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to reactor material though. Sure Btu is important, but there are two different kinds of Btu, one is how much is released at a time, and the other is total potential Btu. Potential Btu is how much heat energy the material can provide before it runs out, and this is important to keep in mind when talking about energy sources. Take, for example, 1 lb of Eastern US bituminous coal, this the highest potential of any type of coal, being 13,000 Btu, and goes for a cost of around 3 cents per pound. Then take uranium, sure it costs more at about $20-$25 a pound, but it produces around 180,000,000 Btu. Compare that to the Btu of coal, and you would need to use $415.38 to get the same amount of power only using coal. If you think that is a big difference, take a look at enriched uranium, 1 lb of 3.2% enriched uranium has a Btu of 1,250,000,000, going far beyond both normal uranium and coal. So although the materials cost more per pound and in the cost of transportation, this is far offset by how much more heat can be given off by the uranium.

When we talk about nuclear power though there is a gigantic issue that comes into play more than almost any other, and that is how the public views the use of nuclear power. The general public opinion on anything nuclear-related tends to strike fear to most people, and this comes from a few things. Radiation is something that scares a lot of people because of the effects that some kinds of radiation have on your health. While other people have fear of nuclear weapons being made in power plants, and even what happens if those power plants have an accident, like in Chernobyl and Fukushima. In a study titled “Perceived Risk, Stigma, and Potential Economic Impacts of a High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada”, they go into detail about how the public sees the effects of nuclear materials and radiation. The study closes stating,

The reality of extensive media coverage documenting major and minor problems and controversies involving nuclear technologies. Attempts to “educate” or reassure the public and bring their perceptions in line with those of industry experts face great difficulties because industry and government lack trust and credibility and because evidence of incompetence is much more persuasive than evidence of competence.

and this problem only gets worse as it continues, as it has since when the study was made. Now the public opinion on nuclear power has stagnated in a negative view.

When it comes to these kinds of misconceptions it’s important to dismiss them. A good place to start with this would be with nuclear waste, although it is true that it can be bad for the environment, that is only when its poorly taken care of. One of the first forms of taking care of spent fuel is to put it into a spent fuel pool in a power plant, or secure location, and this is surprisingly safer than it sounds. In the book What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, the question is asked, “What if I took a swim in a spent nuclear fuel pool?” and the answer is pretty astonishing when you hold preconceived notions about radiation.

The most radioactive fuel rods are those recently removed from a reactor. For the kinds of radiation coming off spent nuclear fuel, every 7 centimeters of water cuts the amount of radiation in half. Based on the levels provided by Ontario Hydro… you could swim around as much as you wanted – the dose from the core would be less than the normal background done you get walking around… you may actually receive a lower dose of radiation treading water in a spent fuel pool than walking around on the street (Munroe 12-13).

As you can see the process for safely taking care of the spent fuel is not a highly technologic and expensive process, the pools of water and containment rods they use do a highly effective job at stopping the dangers of radiation from getting to the people and area around the powerplant. Keeping the environment and people safe from the dangers that can be posed by radioactive materials is one of the top priorities when it comes to the use of nuclear power. There are also other ways to help contain the materials used in reactors. Pyrochlore, for example, is a chemical that is used to keep all kinds of radioactive materials contained and safe for transportation, and there is a vast range of materials that this chemical is effective for, ranging most of the periodic table, “The use of pyrochlore structure-types in the immobilization and safe storage and disposal of plutonium and other actinides. Pyrochlore is particularly suitable because this very simple, but elegant, structure has the ability to accommodate a wide variety of chemistries–some compositions, such as the titanates and zirconates, being extremely durable under expected repository conditions.”(Ewing) Predicted behavior of the use of this chemical can be confirmed because there is a vast variety of studies for actinide-bearing pyrochlores in nature that can be from hundreds to thousands of millions of years of age. In looking at this study, being long, having mass amounts of research into the subject, along with it being tested on many different materials, concludes that we have more advanced methods that are available to us to not only safely but effectively contain, secure, and protects hazardous materials from being tampered with and causing harm to the areas around them whether it be in transporting the material, or keeping it stored away from people in the long term.

Of course the natural effects of nuclear materials are not the only thing that people worry about when it comes the topic, there’s also the idea of those nuclear materials being used to make weapons, and this is a fair thing to worry about, nuclear weapons are a dangerous thing that can cause mass amounts of destruction. This is of course taken into account by the people running the power plants, there have even been studies done on whether or not people are able to use the materials in non-peaceful ways. “The overall level of assurance against diversion also importantly depends on two other factors – the frequency of inspections, and the accuracy of the measurement techniques employed. Containment and surveillance systems limiting access to strategic points within a facility are an important adjunct to the IAEA’s materials balance system.” (Cochran) it is of course very important to keep these kinds of hazardous materials extremely controlled. Due to the result of this, there are many governments, international, and even local security and nuclear energy organizations, some examples of these are the International Atomic Energy Agency, Greenpeace, and even representatives from the United Nations, who all keep a close eye on nuclear power plants to make sure none of the materials are being misused.

Nuclear energy has had a giant turnaround from what it was back when we started to use it in the 50s. From then there have been massive advancements in how safe it is, and the price of using it has gone down significantly. Today the use of nuclear energy is not only a no-brainer, but the stigma around it prevents us from using it as a primary source of power, and this not only hurts our wallets but our environment too. The use of nuclear power is the future, and the sooner we accept that the better off everyone will be.

 

 

Works Cited

Cochran, Thomas B. “The Amount of Plutonium and Highly-Enriched Uranium Needed for Pure Fission Nuclear Weapons.” 13 Apr. 1995, pp. 1–16., http://www.nrdcdev.org/nuclear/fissionw/fissionweapons.pdf.

Ewing, Rodney C., et al. “Nuclear Waste Disposal—Pyrochlore (A2B2O7): Nuclear Waste Form for the Immobilization of Plutonium and “Minor” Actinides.”Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 95, no. 11, 2004, pp. 5949–5971., doi:10.1063/1.1707213.

Merkel, Tim C., et al. “Power Plant Post-Combustion Carbon Dioxide Capture: An Opportunity for Membranes.” Journal of Membrane Science, vol. 359, no. 1-2, 2010, pp. 126–139, doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2009.10.041.

Slovic, Paul, et al. “Perceived Risk, Stigma, and Potential Economic Impacts of a High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada.” Risk Analysis, vol. 11, no. 4, 1991, pp. 683–696., doi:10.1111/j.1539-6924.1991.tb00658.x.

“Spent Fuel Pool.” What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe, John Murray, 2015, pp. 10–13.

White, Scott W, and Gerald L Kulcinski. “Birth to Death Analysis of the Energy Payback Ratio and CO2 Gas Emission Rates from Coal, Fission, Wind, and DT-Fusion Electrical Power Plants.” 2000, pp. 1-20. doi:10.1016/s0920-3796(00)00158-7.

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