Nuclear energy isn’t that different than coal and oil when it comes to the way we harness it. All of these energy sources rely on the same processes- the heat that’s generated then heats water which turns a turbine and gives us energy.
But despite these similarities, people tend to be more afraid of nuclear energy than other energies. Coal and oil are arguably more dangerous with its contribution to global carbon emissions, so why aren’t we embracing nuclear with open arms? Much of this fear is wrought from historical disasters like Fukushima and Chernobyl and that boils down to our fear of radiation. The term "radiation" can be a scary word.
However scary though, in 2008 the United Nations released a report on Chernobyl and the surrounding populations saying “There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure.” It could be that nuclear energy’s pollution is just easier to see than other methods. Carbon Dioxide from coal plants goes straight up into the atmosphere, and doesn’t cause concern for those not in the immediate vicinity. Yet, if a nuclear reactor breaks down, it’s global news.
Special thanks to Dianna from Physics Girl for her help with this episode. Check her out on YouTube, here!