Nuclear Energy: The Silent Solution
by Izaak Garcia
Climate change is a dilemma that has been debated on for decades, prompting opinions and perspectives from people all over the world. Scientists and climate change activists alike have discussed solutions to this great problem. In order to solve any problem, one must know how it is caused—and more importantly, how it began. Over the 4.5 billion years of Earth’s existence in our solar system, global temperature has fluctuated greatly. This is mostly due to Earth’s ever-changing environment, including events like ice ages. The Earth’s temperature has never remained stable… so how do we know that global warming is a real threat, and not just a warm front (the opposite of an ice age)?
Carbon dioxide (or CO2) is naturally released by plants and animals all the time, and this kind of CO2 leaves a distinct trace that can be identified by chemists. The reason why this is so valuable is because the CO2 released by burning fossil fuels traps heat— and is the main contributing factor to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. As CO2 levels increase, the gas outputs heat into the atmosphere, trapping it there and causing the global temperature to rise. This is our dilemma, and it is destroying our planet. But what if there was a way not only to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but create a clean and efficient source of energy? The solution is nuclear energy—not only is it cost effective, but it could power human functions for eras to come.
The core concept of nuclear energy lies inside of uranium fuel, consisting of small, ceramic pellets that—when bound together—are inserted into a nuclear reactor. One pellet, according to Hitachi Global, contains the same amount of energy as one ton of coal, and can provide up to “five years of heat for power generation.” Not only efficient, uranium is also abundant on Earth. This means that access to the supplies needed to create power is neither difficult nor costly. Unlike other sources of renewable energy like solar or wind, nuclear energy can be created on command, and is available at any time of the year, no matter the conditions.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Is nuclear energy safe? According to the World Nuclear Association, in the past 60 years accidents at power plants were extremely low, with only 3 major nuclear reactor incidents occurring. The standard the nuclear industry holds for safety is one of the highest in the nation. Nuclear energy is the forefront of modern technology, and learning to understand, not fear it, will put humanity one step closer to a clean and efficient future.
About Izaak Garcia
Izaak Garcia is currently a senior at Richwoods High School, enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Garcia plans to study Computer Science. He has played soccer with FC Peoria and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and Computer Science for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two total productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new coding languages, and video games.