Looking for essays on nuclear energy and the environment? We have thousands of essays on this topic and more.
According to the United Nations Joint Group of Experts on
the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP) of 1972,
marine pollution is ?the introduction by man directly or indirectly,
of substances or energy to the marine environment resulting in deleterious effects such as harm to living resources, hazards to human health; hindrance of marine activities including fishing, impairing the quality for use of sea water, and reduction of amenities?(Clark 3). Since the beginning of modern civilization, man has continuously polluted the oceans. As more and more pollution entered the Earth?s oceans and problems became evident, man has been given the obligation to prevent further damage. Sewage, marine debris, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, oil, and radioactive materials constitute six major categories of marine pollutants that mankind needs to prevent from entering the worlds oceans.
Sewage has a short lifespan, it decomposes due to microscopic organisms like bacteria and fungi. However, in the respiration process microorganisms consume oxygen, creating ?biological oxygen demand?(Johnston 56). If there is too little oxygen in the water to support the biological oxygen demand for these biodegraders, they die and so do all the plants and animals that depend on them for food. When raw sewage is dumped into an area without strong currents to disperse it, the oxygen is likely to be used up. When this happens, the only form of decomposition that can take place is anaerobic which takes a very long time. This process is called eutrophication (Clark 5). When nutrient rich sewage enters the ocean, an extreme overgrowth of toxic phytoplankton. This process causes what is known as red-tides that kill many forms of marine life.
Marine debris is another form of pollution that is a major threat to the earth?s oceans. Marine debris consists of discarded plastic, glass, and metal that does not easily decompose. Some debris such as abandoned ships and old cars that sink attract fish because they form artificial reefs. Some artificial reefs have been purposely made by humans out of sinking marine debris for the sole purpose of providing sea life with an ecosystem. The pollution problem is more centered around floating marine debris such as plastic. Because plastic floats it constitutes a threat to sea birds and mammals who either eat it or become entangled in it. Each year 30,000 northern fur seals as well as hundreds of thousands of other marine animals die due to being entangled in discarded plastic(Johnston 63). These plastics when eaten can lodge in the intestines and stomach to block the digestive tract to cause malnutrition and death. Not only does marine debris effect sea life, but humans as well. Marine debris interferes with ship navigation and litters beaches along coastal water.
Toxic chemicals are extremely hazardous to the oceans. Three of the most deadly chemicals are constantly running off land into water. These chemicals; DDT, PCBs, and dioxins belong to a family of industrial and agricultural chemicals that do not brake down easily in our environment. When these chemicals enter the ocean they are first absorbed by phytoplankton and zooplankton. These planktons are an important part of a fish?s diet, therefore; fish eat them and the toxic chemicals are stored in the fish?s fatty tissue. Because fish are low on the food chain, each time the toxic chemicals are passed on from predator to predator the concentration gets higher. High concentrations of these chemicals cause premature birth , birth defects, nerve damage, learning disabilities, and remain in the fatty tissue of marine animals.
Another major pollutant found in our oceans is heavy metals. Heavy metals are dense elements such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. Each of these elements has a different and harmful effect on sea life. Lead can make fish toxic for consumption and create more lead in the food chain. In animals, lead causes delayed development of offspring, nervous system disorders, and learning disabilities. Mercury is very toxic, even in low concentrations. It disrupts the central nervous system functions in animals. Mercury is extremely dangerous because mixed with other pollutants, the toxicity can be very deadly. Cadmium becomes toxic to sea animals by eventually replacing the calcium, thus making bones fragile and easily broken.
Oil as ocean pollution has been ... more
Find essay on Nuclear Energy And The Environment
Plutonium, Our Country's Only Feasible Solution
Should we begin to manufacture one of the most destructive and infamous
substances on the face on the Earth once again? The engineers say yes, but
the public says no. The United States stopped making this element with the
ban on manufacturing nuclear weapons. But with the continuing problem with
our ever diminishing energy sources, some want us to begin using more
nuclear energy and less energy from natural resources. This paper is going
to discuss what plutonium is, the advantages and disadvantages of its use,
and why we should think about restarting our production of this useful
After the United States dropped "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" on Japan ending
World War II, the public has had some type of understanding about the
power of plutonium and its devastating properties, but that is all anyone
After WWII, Americans started to think about what the atomic bomb could do
to the U.S. and its people. When anyone mentioned plutonium or the word
"nuclear" the idea of Hiroshima or Nagasaki being destroyed was the first
thing people thought about. No one could even ponder the idea that it
could be used for other more constructive things like sources of energy or
to kept a person's heart beating. Then we started to build more reactors
and produce more of the substance but mostly for our nuclear weapons
Along with reactors, sometimes comes a meltdown which can produce harmful
effects if it isn't controlled quickly enough. After such instances as the
Hanford, Washington reactor meltdown and the accident in the U.S.S.R. at
the Chernobyl site, no one wanted to hear about the use of plutonium. The
United States government banned nuclear testing and also ended the
production of plutonium.(Ref. 5) Now we are in a dilemma.
We are in need of future sources of energy to power our nation. We are
running out of coal and oil to run our power plants.(Ref. 7) We also need
it to further our space exploration program. People need to understand the
advantages to using plutonium and that the disadvantages are not as
catastrophic as they seem. With the turn of the century on its way, the
reemergence of plutonium production will need to be a reality for us to
In 1941, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered
something that would change our planet forever. The man's name, Glenn T.
Seaborg, and what did he discover?, the element plutonium.(ref. 10)
Plutonium, or Pu #94 on the periodic table, is one of the most unstable
elements on the earth. It is formed when Uranium 235, another highly
unstable element, absorbs a neutron. Plutonium is a silvery-white metal
that has a very high density of 19.816 g/cm3.(ref. 10 ) It has been
rarely found in the earth's crust but the majority of the substance has to
be produced in the cores of nuclear reactors.
Plutonium can be found fifteen different forms, or isotopes and their mass
number can range from 232-246.(ref. 13) Radionuclide batteries used in
pacemakers use Pu-238, while Pu-239 is used in reactors and for Nuclear
weapons.(ref. 13) This paper will focus on the isotopes Pu-238 and Pu-239.
Plutonium can be very advantageous for the United States. It can be used
for several purposes. The three major advantages to using this element are
for an energy source, power for nuclear propulsion in space exploration
and thermo-electric generators in cardiac pacemakers.
The first use for plutonium, nuclear power, is obviously the most
beneficial use. Plutonium 239 can be used to power nuclear reactors. The
average nuclear reactor contains about 325 kilograms of plutonium within
its uranium fuel.(ref. 7) This complements the uranium fission process.
With the continually decreasing supply of coal and oil to power our
nation, we need a substitute to complement our energy needs and right now
the best replacement is that of nuclear energy.(ref. 7) At the moment
there are one hundred and ten nuclear power plants in the United States
and they produce one-fifth of the nations electricity. Nuclear energy has
been proven to be the cheapest, safest, cleanest and probably the most
Nuclear power plants do not use as much fuel as the plants burning coal
oil. One ton of uranium produces more energy than several million tons of
coal and plutonium can produce much more energy than uranium.(ref. 12)
Also the burning of coal and oil pollute our air and the last thing we
need is more pollution to worsen the greenhouse effect.
Nuclear power plants cannot contaminate the environment because they do
not ... more
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