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A Double-Edged Sword

A double-edged sword is an idiom for an opinion or a plan which can be helpful while it can be harmful at the same time. A dagger, made up of double-edged blades were created and used, from B.C. 300s to long swords used in the sixteenth century. Of course there are risks when you are using the double-edged swords. But you dont abandon it altogether and use only the single-sided swords because of the danger. It would be idiotic to forbid cars because the danger of accidents. What do we do? We use it with some cautiousness. According to this logic, everything is a double-edged sword, because it has two sides. Everything has distinct and indistinct advantages and disadvantages. Even a single-edged sword is a double-edged one. Even though the perception of the nuclear technology has changed in the recent years, the thoughts that nuclear technology is dangerous are prevalent. Yes, these thoughts are surely logical after the advent of the technology through the Manhattan Project. The bomber of the Enola Gay suffered mental damage, and the citizens might have, as well. The Chernobyl incident showed how a heating of the nuclear power reactor could cause such a result. The city, Chernobyl still lies as a dead city. Some think that the development of the nuclear technology could exacerbate the problem. But like a double-edged sword, we need to control the nuclear technology to our benefit. I definitely agree that these examples exemplifying the consequences of mishandled technology must be never repeated. No matter how many lives the bomb might have saved by ending the war quickly, this incident must never be repeated, looking at the view of human rights. However, even though the incidents left mankind beaten and tattered, I am arguing that it is imperative that we use the technology for the good of mankind. I will prove that nuclear technology has more benefits than disadvantages, because of its low-costs, eco-

friendliness, and efficiency. No human being can say that nuclear technology is not harmful at all. Yes, we must not forget Hiroshima, Nagasaki, as well as Chernobyl. We must not forget the past, but we must use it as a lesson to gingerly treat the power of the atom. We should, and must use the nuclear technology because of its benefits.

No need to say, nuclear technology makes cheaper electricity a viable option. It costs approximately US $32 per megawatt, while it costs US $35 with the next cheapest, petroleum. Therefore, it would be logical for us to invest a lot of money in this technology. Not only that it is cheaper, it is also much more stable. It might seem quite irrelevant, but did you know that the price of the ice cream is related to the oil price? This is because the petroleum is the powerhouse operating the ice cream factory, as well as most other industries, so when the oil price appreciates, the companies need to spend more money in order to operate the machines. Unfortunately for these industries relying on electricity produced by petroleum, the petroleum is notorious for unstable prices, with oil shocks happening in 1973 and 1979. If we are too dependent on petroleum, a slight sneeze from the OPEC could mean a serious flu for the importing countries. But alas, one might ask, what would happen when a worldwide inflation occurs and the price of the uranium soars? Even when the market suffers an economic crisis, the power plants would not be affected severely, because the price of the uranium takes only a small portion of the production costs. In contrast to this nuclear technology, petroleum take up most parts of the money required when producing electricity. Therefore, if we are reliant on petroleum, it means that we are reliant on the oil-exporting countries, like UAE. Too much dependency on foreign countries can cause catastrophic consequences, as the two main oil shocks showed us.

Of course, one may argue that alternative sources could be used, like solar energy. Of course, these are completely environmentally friendly with zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, it is not that economically friendly; it costs approximately US $604 per one megawatt. Compared with 32 dollars, it costs slightly less than twenty times the money. For the same amount of energy. Concerning economics, the cheap production cost isnt the only merit of the nuclear technology; the recent export of a nuclear reactor from South Korea to UAE (United Arab Emirates) loaded Koreans with a heavy sum of twenty-billion dollars. According to Korea Economics, basically the equal to Americas Wall Street Journal, it has the same effect on the market as exporting sixty-two A380 airbuses. Moreover, it has created 110 thousand jobs for the next ten years. Not only is it cheap, it itself is a frontier for countries seeking for economic opportunities. Therefore, development of nuclear technology is a mean to harness cheap electricity to our needs, as well as a ticket into a giant market, able to provide hundreds of billion dollars. Yes, it is indeed true that the radioactive rays, which are the unwanted creations of the nuclear power plants, can cause a critical contamination to the nature and the citizens. The Chernobyl incident showed how dangerous radioactive rays can be. Indeed, radioactive rays are dangerous when released, but with scientific growth, and examples like the Yucca Mountain Project (which is a project of storing nuclear waste by digging a tunnel in a mountain, and covering the waste by a corrosion-resistant titanium), the worries of nuclear waste have decreased significantly. Other ways instead of string in tunnels include permanent underground cave storage, or even storing them deep in the ground, at least several hundred meters deep.

One other reason that many countries are beginning to think of nuclear technology as environmentally friendly is primarily because it releases no greenhouse gases. Because advanced nations feel that they have a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are looking for a feasible energy source that could produce energy without any greenhouse gas emissions. Wind turbine, solar panels, solar heat, wave power, and many other alternative energy sources exist, but because they are expensive and inefficient, nuclear energy is attracting countries.

Because it is environmentally-friendly, and economically-friendly, it is natural for a big market to grow. Another wonderful benefit that nuclear technology has is its efficiency. Because it is such a powerful sector of technology, like the alchemy of the twenty-first century, it is so effective, perhaps too effective. Its efficiency showed its extreme power when two bombs hit the two Japanese cities, the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki. Its efficiency can surely be deadly, if you have evil intentions, even a cute little harmless-looking teddy bear can be used for choking a victim. So, by harnessing it with good intentions, the efficiency can be more than just useful. Unlike other sources like oil and gas, you are able to produce an astonishing amount of energy. For example, one kilogram of uranium can produce the same amount of power as one ton of gasoline.

Not only that, even though the initial cost can be expensive compared to the construction cost of the coal or gas power stations, one station can last long, and because of the efficiency itself, one power station equals to so much energy. The power stations location is not limited to other energy sources. For example, you need a windy and mountainous terrain for wind turbine, and inland countries cannot harness wave power. Not only that, mineral-poor countries have to suffer disadvantages when trying to activate coal plants or oil plants. However, nuclear power plants can be stationed anywhere, even a desert. This is why the nuclear energy holds a lot of possibilities and can be efficient.

Because it is so cheap, efficient, and has zero greenhouse gas emissions, it is naturally a choice for most countries. It is attractive, especially after many studies have shown that fossil fuel would run out in the next fifty years. It would be a fools choice to abandon the nuclear technology, in a time that global warming is advancing and fossil fuels are running out. Excalibur, the legendary sword in the stone, was the possession that empowered King Arthur. Perhaps the Nuclear energy is the modern Excalibur, empowering and producing 17% of

all electricity in the world, and taking as much as 80% in France. The Excalibur was thrown into the river, as King Arthur ordered before he succumbed after a strike by an enemy. However, we must not throw away the nuclear technology as Excalibur had been; we must brandish it, and minimize its risks.

-Jordan Jeong July 31, 2010

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