3 reasons why nuclear is awesome

Three reasons why we should continue using nuclear energy.

三个理由为什么我们需要继续使用核能源。

One: nuclear energy saves lives.

第一:核能源挽救生命。

In 2013, a study conducted by NASA found that nuclear energy has prevented around 1.8 million deaths. Even if you include the death tolls from Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear energy ranks last in death per energy unit produced. While nuclear waste is really toxic, it’s usually stored somewhere, while the toxic byproducts of fossil fuels are pumped into the air we breathe every day. So, just by reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned, countless cases of cancer or lung disease and accidents in coal mines have been avoided. If we can choose between lots of dangerous stuff being put into a deep hole and lots and lots and lots of dangerous stuff being pumped into the atmosphere, the former seems more logical. Nuclear energy feels way more dangerous, though. Single catastrophic events burn into our memory, while coal and oil kill silently. It’s like the death rate of flying versus driving. Even in the best-case scenario, it would take at least forty years to switch to 100%-renewable energy. So, for as long as we continue using fossil fuels, nuclear energy will save way more lives than it destroys.

在2013年,由NASA进行的一项研究发现,核能源阻止了大概1千8百万死亡。就算你把切尔诺贝利和福岛县的死亡人数加在一起,核能源在造成死亡率里排名最低。尽管核能源废料真的是有毒,它通常存储在某个地方,然而矿物燃料而产生的毒性副物质被泵入大气我们每天都在呼吸。因此,仅仅通过降低矿物燃料的量烧毁,本来是可以避免的癌症或肺部疾病,并在煤矿的作用下不断出现。如果我们可以选择把很多危险的东西埋在地下和很多很多东西有害的东西被泵入大气层,前者似乎更符合逻辑。核能源感觉会更危险。每一个灾难都深深印在我们的记忆里,当煤炭和石油在一点一点的流失。这就像开车和坠机的死亡比例。即使在最好的情况下,将至少需要四十年切换至100%的可再生能源。因此,只要我们继续使用化石燃料,核能将救更多的生命。

Two: nuclear energy reduces CO₂ emissions.

第二:核能减少CO₂排放。

Nuclear energy is arguably way less harmful to the environment in terms of climate change than fossil fuels, our main source of energy. Since 1976, about 64 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions have not been pumped out thanks to nuclear energy. And by the mid-21st century, that could amount to an additional 80–240 gigatons. Humanity’s energy consumption is rising steadily. According to US government projections, China alone will add the equivalent of a new 600-MW coal plant every 10 days for the next 10 years. China already burns 4 billion tons of coal each year. Coal is cheap, relatively abundant, and easy to get to. So it’s not likely that humanity will stop using it soon. Nuclear energy might be the only way of dampening the effects of climate change and preventing a catastrophic man-made global warming. Compared to the other things we do, nuclear energy is relatively clean. So, even if it is a good idea to quit nuclear energy long-term, it might be a good solution for the next hundred years or so, compared to the alternatives.

核能源可以说是最好的方式减少对环境损害在与化石燃料相比,我们的主要能源。自1976年以来,约64亿吨的温室气体没被排放出来,感谢核能源~而到了21世纪中叶,这可以是额外的80-240亿吨。人类的能源消耗正在稳步上升。根据美国政府的预测,在未来的10年中国每10天增加一个新的600兆瓦的燃煤电厂。中国每年已经燃烧400万吨煤。煤很便宜,相对丰富,而且容易得到。因此,人类不大可能会很快的停止用它们。核能可能是抑制气候变化的影响的唯一途径并防止灾难性的人为的全球变暖。相比于我们做其他的事情,核能是比较干净。所以,即使是退出核能长期是一个好主意,这可能是在未来百年左右一个很好的解决方案相比替代方案。

Three: new technologies.

第三:新技术。

Maybe technology will solve the problem of nuclear waste and dangerous power plants. The nuclear reactors we’ve used so far are mostly outdated technology, because nuclear innovation stopped in the 1970s. There are models, like the thorium reactor, that could solve the problem altogether. Thorium is abundant, really hard to turn into nuclear weapons, and up to two orders of magnitude less wasteful than current nuclear reactors. The waste material might also be only dangerous for a few hundred years, in contrast to a couple of thousand years. 1 ton of thorium is estimated to provide the same amount of energy as 200 tons of uranium or 3.5 million tons of coal. So while we cannot know for sure if alternative nuclear technology will keep its promises, shouldn’t we at least do more research before we forego an opportunity to solve lots of humanity’s current problems? It may not be an easy challenge, but that hasn’t stopped us before.

也许工业将解决核废料和危险电厂的问题。到目前为止,我所使用的核反应堆大多是过时的技术,因为在20世纪70年代核创新就停止了。这里有机型,如钍反应堆,可能完全解决这个问题。钍很多,但是真的很难变成核武器,和幅度比目前的核反应堆少浪费高达两个数量级。废料也可能只针对几百年的危险,而相比之下,一两千年。吨钍的估计,以提供相同量200吨铀或350万吨煤的能源。所以,虽然我们无法了解是否真的可以替代核技术,难道我们不应该至少做更多的研究在之前,我们放弃解决了大量的人类当前的问题的机会?它可能不是一件容易的挑战,但在此之前,一直没有停止过我们。

So, should we use nuclear energy? There are risks involved in any great human endeavor, and we have to make an informed decision, rather than rely on gut feeling.

所以,我们需不需要用核能源?每一个伟大的人类努力的探究都有危险,我们必须作出明智的决定,而不是依赖于直觉的感觉。

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