This is exactly this kind of sensationalism that has given nuclear energy an ill-deserved reputation, and consequently helped lead to the serious environmental challenges, which face us today.
Nuclear energy supplies over 20 percent of the nation's electricity without emitting greenhouse gases and without causing harm to anyone. The United States also has the largest installed capacity of wind and solar energy, but these sources only contribute less than one-half of 1 percent of our energy. France, which generates 80 percent of its energy with nuclear power, enjoys cleaner air, a longer life expectancy and half of the infant mortality rate of the United States. Similar benefits are evident in Sweden, Germany and Japan, which generate a substantial amount of their power using nuclear technology.
Some people are very worried about the potential for a nuclear accident. So why don't we examine the facts from the worst nuclear accident in history? As of 2004, nearly 20 years after Chernobyl, only 56 deaths can be directly attributed to that accident. Additionally, a comprehensive UN report in 2000 concluded that there is no scientific evidence of any significant health effects. Compare that to the worst nuclear "accident" in the United States, involving a partial meltdown of one of the reactors at Three Mile Island. No one died. No one experienced any radiation sickness. In fact, President Jimmy Carter, who was himself a nuclear engineering student at one time, visited the site the very next day to demonstrate to the public that it was safe.
In contrast, several U.S. studies have suggested that as many as 30,000 American lives are lost each year due to respiratory distress brought on by the emissions of fossil fuels, which supply over 80 percent of our energy needs.
In the United States, nuclear stations must adhere to strict safety standards or be forced to shut down. When you consider the recent evidence of global climate change coupled with the DOE estimate that as much as 50 percent more electricity will be needed by 2025, it is clear that we must embrace conservation, promote the use of renewable energies, and continue to support the most valuable player in our clean air energy sources: nuclear power.
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