As a result of the climate change agreement signed by more than 190 countries around the world in Paris over a year ago, measures are now being done to discourage ourselves from using fossil fuels.
But with oil, coal and gas providing the vast majority of energy used worldwide – even if they are primarily to blame for increasing air pollution – doing so will really be a very tall order.
Clean and renewable would be the ideal type of energy to be used, but so far, the current technology of solar, wind and other power generation methods are not efficient enough to provide sufficient energy to replace that created by fossil fuel combustion.
While biogas is also a potential energy source, it also pales in comparison to the sheer volume of energy generated by fossil fuels.
The only method left, the one and so far only genuine contender which could alleviate all of our energy woes in one fell swoop, is nuclear power.
Nuclear is the only energy in use today which rivals fossil fuels in terms of the potential power it can create. While it does still release some radioactive elements into the atmosphere, these are far less damaging than the radiation created by coal-fired power plants, while its carbon and methane emissions are virtually negligible in comparison.
Furthermore, it is created through the mining and processing of uranium. Though this is a finite resource, it is thought to be in more plentiful supply than fossil fuels, which are rapidly depleting. Crucially, it also has far greater potential than oil, coal or gas – more power can be gleaned from uranium supplies than can be generated from an equivalent amount of fossil fuels.
However, that being said, nuclear is not a renewable energy. Despite the vast potential of uranium, it will also eventually run out, meaning that nuclear energy can only ever be a stopgap solution.
Neither is it clean. Since it emits a certain amount of harmful contaminants into the air, nuclear is also responsible for creating a significant amount of volatile waste. In the wrong hands or subjected to the wrong conditions, nuclear waste has a devastating potential to contaminate our air, land and water for a prolonged period of time, not to mention the explosions it could cause.
We only need to go through history to see examples of nuclear disasters and their catastrophic effects. In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster which took place in the former USSR was the first major tragedy involving the energy source that the world had seen, and it claimed many lives and contaminated much land. However, it remained the only major accident to occur throughout around 500 reactors worldwide for 25 years until 2011.
The Fukushima incident in Japan shook human faith in the infallibility of nuclear power once again after thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands more were forced to evacuate from their homes. Despite the passage of several years, tests reveal that isotope levels in the surrounding soil remain alarmingly high.
The bottom line is that although nuclear power does currently represent our most feasible option for dispensing with fossil fuels, it must be remembered that as an energy source, it is neither clean nor renewable and it always has the potential to cause deadly and disastrous accidents.
As such, although some would argue that nuclear is still our best choice today given our present circumstances, I believe that it would still be more advisable to withdraw investment and effort in the development of that type of energy and concentrate on greener sources of efficient energy production like solar and wind power.
The Philippines, being located near the equator, would still be an ideal place to further improve the technology that solar and wind power has to offer.
And when compared to nuclear power, these are definitely renewable and sustainable energy sources, whose development and use would prove to be to our advantage in the long run.
Maybe it would be better if the national government would provide more incentives for investors and scientists to hasten the development of solar and wind power technology here.