Zayne Starr Washington

Thorium-Based Nuclear Power

America can't stand idly by while we deplete all of our coal and oil anymore, if we don't invest in new nuclear technologies, this world may not be habitable anymore.

Dear Next President,

Our world is running out of fossil fuels at an alarming rate. It’s hypothesized that oil will most likely run out sometime around 2051, but if oil consumption continues to increase, we will run out much faster. Lots of environmental groups seem to think that hydro, wind, and solar power is going to save us all, but the sad truth is that those big three power sources just won’t make up for the loss. We used to think our coal won’t run out for hundreds of years, but if coal production is stepped up to make up for the loss of oil, not only will coal run out well before 2100, but our atmosphere will become too polluted for us to breath. So what’s the answer to the problem of disappearing fuel sources? Many americans are scared to think about it, but nuclear power looks like the best option for the future. 

Nuclear energy is still a rather new technology. We only started focusing on harnessing nuclear energy in 1945. Plutonium and Uranium are currently the only fuel sources being widely used despite being easily weaponized by other countries. For the past 60 years we’ve put almost all of our funding behind plutonium and uranium, even though we knew about other fuel sources. Why would we do something like that?

Thorium is a seldom mentioned nuclear fuel source that has much less potential to be weaponized. Thorium is much more abundant in the Us, and much cheaper to obtain than other nuclear fuels. Scientists have recently begun researching use of thorium, but most research has been heavily underfunded and overlooked. Since thorium seems to have amazing potential, why haven’t we started using it yet? A possible explanation is that it would cost a lot of money to research and develop new, thorium-based, nuclear power plants. The US also has one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear warheads, so there's an incentive to keep making weapons, but when one third of our nuclear warheads could destroy all of earth, why should we need to produce any more missiles? Thorium based power may be expensive to research, but that knowledge could be worth a lot of money to other countries later on, and an abundant source of power that america is the best at tapping into, is virtually a goldmine.

So current possible gain aside, how will thorium solve our problems with running out of fossil fuels? Nuclear power, pound for pound, produces two to three million times more energy than coal or oil, if we halted all use of coal and made up for the energy lost using nuclear energy in 2017, we would only use 400 tons of thorium, that sounds like a lot, but it seems like nothing in comparison to the projected 1.2 billion tons of coal we will burn in 2017. Since thorium is abundant in the US, using thorium based nuclear power would easily satisfy the US for a very long time. Combining that with hydroelectric power (currently the most used renewable source of power) would satisfy the world for a very long time. That, next president, is how you solve the fossil fuel crisis.

The Community School

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