The Instigator
Superboy777
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
mageist24
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Nuclear Power is the most viable substitute from fossil fuels

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Superboy777
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/26/2010 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,184 times Debate No: 13794
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

Superboy777

Pro

I thank whoever accepts this debate.

As the pro side, I define nuclear power as power generated as a result of nuclear fission and fossil fuels as coal, natural gas, and oil. The job of my opponent is to provide a suitable alternative that is more viable than nuclear in substituting fossil fuels.

My first argument is nuclear power's ease of location. A nuclear plant can be built anywhere on land (and possibly sea) which could provide power for more desolate places or places which have temperature extremes. While the sun may be shining for the day, there are many places where solar panels are not cost effective. Geothermal energy is self explanatory as it can only be done where there is sufficient warmth in the ground. Wind energy has to be put in rather desolate places that have seasonal temperatures as the cost of maintaining wind farms in a blizzard is tremendous. Hydro has to be near water and cannot be inland without rivers. Nuclear plants can be built anywhere and the energy can be generated at a rather low cost which will later tie into my second point. Nuclear power can be in all temperatures and can be provided to every place in the world. Even coal, oil and natural gas have to be reasonably to a mine or well or the transportation cost would be too high. As shown in the following website, the cost of uranium needed for nuclear does not really affect the price. Logically following, the location of the uranium that it uses does not have to close to the plant. http://www.world-nuclear.org... (chart is about 1/3 of the way down)

I look forward to anyone accepting this debate and presenting an alternative that can replace fossil fuels and is more viable than nuclear, which I currently believe is easily the most viable.
mageist24

Con

Thank you for this debate, I believe very strongly what I am about to say, and this is an issue that needs to be hammered out to get to the real problems.

I am going to argue for the alternative energy source known as geothermal energy.

It is obvious that fossil fuels are finite, and we as humans need to be responsible in creating a safe, reliable, and (if possible) limitless energy. Thank goodness there is such a resource.

Why geothermal energy?

1) Geothermal energy is inexpensive and easy to obtain. My opponent makes the claim that GE can only be obtained in places where sufficient warmth is available. What he doesn't say is that place is EVERYWHERE. The US being the best country to take advantage of this(1). However, no matter where you are in the world, you can dig a hole. There are better areas than others to dig, of course, but the process to gain the energy is extremely cheap because all you need to do is make generators similar to those in nuclear power plants to get the steam. This means that we can peacefully extract resources in our own country without sending troops to other countries to extract oil in the Middle East.

2) Geothermal energy is virtually limitless. The Earth's core holds around 8,000 zeta joules of energy ripe for the taking. It takes .5 zeta joules of energy to power the rest of the world for eternity. Tapping into this beast of an energy supply is obviously in our benefit. Why not use our planets most powerful energy creating resource into our hands?

Why not Nuclear Energy?

1) Nuclear energy is dangerous to obtain. The mining of uranium, as well as its refining and enrichment, and the production of plutonium produce radioactive isotopes that contaminate the surrounding area, including the groundwater, air, land, plants, and equipment. As a result, humans and the entire ecosystem are adversely and profoundly affected. Some of these radioactive isotopes are extraordinarily long-lived, remaining toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Presently, we are only beginning to observe and experience the consequences of producing nuclear energy. If our goal is to preserve the environment and protect our future on Earth, then this seems like one of the worst ways to do it.

2) We cannot share nuclear energy technology other countries for risk of nuclear proliferation. Nuclear energy relies on the fact that some elements can be split (in a process called fission) and will release part of their energy as heat. Because it fissions easily, Uranium-235 (U-235) is one of the elements most commonly used to produce nuclear energy. It is generally used in a mixture with Uranium-238, and produces Plutonium-239 (Pu-239) as waste in the process. The technology for producing nuclear energy that is shared among nations, particularly the process that turns raw uranium into lowly-enriched uranium, can also be used to produce highly-enriched, weapons-grade uranium. We do not and cannot share this information with many nations because it is a great risk to security. This problem is completely absent in the drive for geothermal energy.

In conclusion, we may need alternative sources of energy, but nuclear energy is not the way to obtain it. Geothermal energy is plentiful, cheap, and safe to get.

Thank you

1-http://www.ucsusa.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Superboy777

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

First, the rebuttals on why geothermal energy would NOT be a viable resource to replace fossil fuels and why nuclear power would be a better choice. Geothermal energy as my opponent claims is everywhere. That's about the same as saying that we all live above Earth's core. If one drills 3 TO 4 MILES deep, one can reach temperatures of about 300 to 400F (about 200 degrees Celsius). I ask my opponent how this is economically viable in any way. Secondly, after doing some research on geothermal energy, I found that there are actually many requirements of locations of geothermal energies. One first needs magma that heats up ground water to 100 degrees Celsius (212 F) in order to be USABLE. My opponent uses the States as an example where geothermal energy is everywhere. It's not. It is only in Western USA, Alaska, and Hawaii that these geothermal place are actually viable. I quote from a website on geothermal.
"To be both usable and economical a (geothermal) site must have an adequate volume of hot water or steam that is not too impure to use, a surface water source to cool generating equipment, and close proximity to power transmission lines. So, even in promising areas, economically usable sites are few and they are difficult to locate. "

Not only are geothermal places difficult to find, the drilling cost of these sites in a hot, dry and corrosive location is far higher than any other kind of drilling. There are also many very toxic and corrosive materials in the process of geothermal drilling. Arsenic, mercury and ammonia all come with the hot water generated from geothermal and cause many health hazards on a near daily basis.
http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com...
http://www.energy-consumers-edge.com...

Now I will begin to defend my points.
My opponent claims that nuclear energy is dangerous to explain. He claims the mining of uranium is very dangerous. I ask him to refer to the following chart on how "dangerous" it is. Now, I know people with think of the Chernobyl accident in Russia, but nuclear plants have improved tremendously, and that plant did not even have an upper containment system. Now, no nuclear plant in the world does not have a containment system, and the last major accident of nuclear was pretty much Chernobyl in 1986.

Comparing deaths/TWh for all energy sources

Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

Coal – world average 161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal – China 278
Coal – USA 15
Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass 12
Peat 12
Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

*Notice that geothermal is not even included because the percentage where it is actually used is smaller than 0.1%.

Uranium mining is just like any other kind of mining and uranium itself is more abundant than gold. The concentration uranium is not high enough to be any danger and there has NEVER been a death related to nuclear radiation in the US EVER. The disposal of nuclear waste has many ways, such as the Yucca mountain idea. However, I personally agree with France's way of reprocessing the nuclear waste so it can be reused and the parts left will become not radioactive in just a few hundred years. Nearly all of the world's largest countries already have access to nuclear energy. All of these countries first made nuclear weapons and then turned to civilian nuclear plants. These plants can be built for countries without nuclear secrets as it has been done before. As long as the plant is for civilian purposes, most countries will agree to build a nuclear plant for a country as a method of producing electricity.
http://www.world-nuclear.org...

Finally, I will present my second point. Nuclear energy is one of the cheapest energies that can produce a large amount. Nuclear energy costs under 2 cents a kilowatt and the amount of energy one pound of uranium can produce is absolutely tremendous. Nuclear power can be adjusted to produce more energy in on-peak times and less energy in off-peak times and is one of the very few that can keep up with demand in nearly any conditions. Nuclear factories can be mass produced in the world and France currently has more than 75% of its energy from Nuclear. France is a large European country so it is a working example of how nuclear energy can be a suitable replacement from fossil fuels.

I ask my opponent to give an example of a country that has more than half or even 40% of its energy produced from geothermal. For nuclear, I can give (over 40%) Armenia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine. Germany is currently considering to also go into nuclear power because it can be mass produced and provides energy at a low cost. For the reasons I give above, it is my firm belief that nuclear energy is the best substitute and most viable substitute from fossil fuels. Geothermal simply just does not have that kind of capacity.

Thank You.
mageist24

Con

I apologize for leaving this to the last minute, but I will finish this debate.

My opponent starts off by making the following statements.

1) Digging holes can't possibly be economical.

My opponent asks me how digging holes can possibly be economical. Well, I thought it was obvious, but I will explain why "digging holes" is a very enlightened choice when trying to save money or even decrease our country's deficit. The reason why geothermal energy will be so economical is because EVERYONE WILL WANT IT. It will cost a lot less because you do not have a limited amount of it, as we do oil and plutonium. Creating geothermal energy could even be economic boom our economy needs right now. Weening off of our dependence on oil in the middle east. Now on to the science evidence your presented

2) "To be both usable and economical a (geothermal) site must have an adequate volume of hot water or steam that is not too impure to use, a surface water source to cool generating equipment, and close proximity to power transmission lines. So, even in promising areas, economically usable sites are few and they are difficult to locate. "

My opponent here is assuming that we need to find areas that have water in them at high temperatures, and admits that it only takes a few miles of digging from anywhere for adequate heat, which as proven above is easily obtainable and economical. So the only real problem here is, we need bodies of water. OR the third option, which is supplying water ourselves. In the evidence I sited in my last speech, "Enhanced Geothermal Systems" are capable of such things. Hot rock reservoirs are given water and the steam from the heated rocks + water is harnessed as energy, thus also eliminating our need for perfect water bodies at our desired locations. It can be anywhere.

Now onto my opponents refutations of my attacks.

1) My opponent offers a chart of deaths.

First of all, I would like to see the link for this please. And since I cannot see the link, or a description of this chart, I assume that his survey was done in one week or month. There is no timeline. This evidence is incomplete. In opposition you also claim that mining uranium is like mining anything else, but offer no evidence on the validity of this. I offer the following articles as evidence to the contrary (1) (2) . My numbered one article specifically talks about the mining risks, but the rejection of the fact that retrieving nuclear energy IS dangerous because is puts off radiation is not productive in this debate. It is a FACT that radiation is created by particles traveling at almost the speed of light and can be very dangerous going through the human body. It can be the cause of cancer and sexual deficiencies. If even there has never been a death in the U.S., which by the way only claimed with no link to this source, it creates diseases to be passed down in their children, and becomes very serious.

2) A lot of countries have the ability to produce nuclear weapons, but they promised they wouldn't. But that's alright we trust them.

We are giving countries the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Countries that hate democracy, countries that deny the Holocaust ever happened, countries that want to see the U.S. in flames. There is no way to turn geothermal energy into a weapon of mass destruction, exception maybe in a squirt gun fight. Giving other countries the ability to use geothermal energy and giving them the technology to accomplish this does not put the U.S. in a bad position to where we have to choose between environmental safety or preventing nuclear winter. In the world of the con, we have both pretty easily.

3) Nuclear energy is very cheap.

So is geothermal energy, what's your point? Geothermal energy doesn't damage humans or our environment.

4) My opponent wants me to name a country that uses geothermal energy. A lot.

What kind of an argument is this? Because it is not popular and funded as much as nuclear energy, it isn't as good? Well if I was thinking the same way as you then Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga are the best musicians because they are the most popular and richest. Or that the best race is Asian, because there are a lot more Asians in the world then any other race. That makes absolutely no sense and judges should just ignore this argument.

In conclusion, geothermal energy is better because it is cheap and easy to obtain just like nuclear energy is, but we do not need to worry about nuclear proliferation and radiation if we share this information to the world. And if we can easily share our technology with other countries without needing to worry about WMDs, our environment can benefit at a much accelerated rate than nuclear energy ever would, simply because the US would not allow it.

http://www.wagingpeace.org...
http://www.physics.isu.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
Superboy777

Pro

I apologize for not posting the link to the chart and it is as follows.

http://nextbigfuture.com...

The quote of "To be both usable and economical a (geothermal) site must have an adequate volume of hot water or steam that is not too impure to use, a surface water source to cool generating equipment, and close proximity to power transmission lines. So, even in promising areas, economically usable sites are few and they are difficult to locate. " was directly taken from a website link I provided and was not of my opinion even though I agree to it. My opponent has yet to provide the real cost of digging a hole a couple miles deep and releasing many toxic materials as I have previously mentioned. My opponent is suggesting that we just transport thousands of gallons of water to our desired 2 to 3 mile hole and allow it to turn into steam. After that, we could just use this steam to generate our geothermal energy, or so he claims. While this is technically possible, the actions of this would make geothermal energy even less viable than it is currently. While I know that many people think of nuclear energy as very dangerous and radiation related, this is not true. Nuclear has been safe for more 20 years. There is a reason governments don't just dig holes in random places and dump water into it. While I am not part of any government, I suppose it to be because it is simply just way to expensive to do.

As for my "lack" of evidence for mining uranium. I offer this link. http://www.world-nuclear.org...
I previously believed that I had posted that link but now after checking I did neglect to add it. For the claim of the lack of deaths, I got that information from a book but also found it at the following link. http://www.washingtonpost.com...

I agree with my opponent that radiation is very dangerous. However, studies have been made which have found that radiation beside nuclear plants is actually less than radiation around some places without nuclear plants. I offer this link
http://www.scientificamerican.com...
and
http://www-formal.stanford.edu...

As to my opponents second rebuttal, I am quite offended. I ask him to do his research first before making any rash statements. I have never said that many countries have the ability to make nuclear weapons nor any promise that they would not use them. There is A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CIVILIAN NUCLEAR PLANT AND A NUCLEAR BOMB. A huge difference actually. That is the reason why countries are having their nuclear plants made by foreign countries even if they don't possess the secret of the nuclear bomb. I believe there is a reason that countries do not use geothermal energy because it is neither cost effective nor can it produce energy en mass and enough to supply demand. Nuclear can.

http://www.wisegeek.com...

Towards the end of the article, one can see that many countries that have nuclear power plants are not currently holders of nuclear weapons. I wonder why that is??

My point on the fact that very few countries that use geothermal energy use it to produce very little amounts because there simply aren't that many places to make it en mass and still cost efficient. I ask my opponent not to twist my words. I specified for a country that uses geothermal energy over 40% not just use. There is a reason that countries do not use a lot of geothermal energy because it simply isn't that cost efficient and there aren't enough places where is economically viable. For nuclear however, there are numerous countries that use it over 40% as I have in my previous argument stated.

I am rather confused by his statement of "And if we can easily share our technology with other countries without needing to worry about WMDs, our environment can benefit at a much accelerated rate than nuclear energy ever would, simply because the US would not allow it." especially the last statement and I would ask him to explain it.

In conclusion, my opponent has failed to provide valid reasons on why geothermal would be a viable replacement economically and the amount of energy it can produce. They have instead offered a highly idealistic and extremely expensive way of how geothermal energy could in theory be produced en mass. Nuclear however, does not even need theories to produce energy that can supply the world. One just needs sufficient nuclear plants. I however, have offered reasons including nuclear can be done anywhere in the world and that nuclear is one of the cheapest energies that can supply our world. My opponent has failed to refute these two points and has instead sidetracked them while I have met his points head on. For these reasons, I strongly urge a pro vote.
mageist24

Con

Thank you for this interesting and invigorating debate.

First of all I would like to thank you for posting the link to the chart. I was pretty confused but I am no longer confused, but this chart is irrelevant to my arguments as they are about diseases and afflictions that are caused by radiation and toxicity of the enrichment process to create energy. This matters very little this debate however because the numbers are completely unknown, so I will drop this argument.

My opponent then continues to say "My opponent has yet to provide the real cost of digging a hole a couple miles deep and releasing many toxic materials as I have previously mentioned."

You mean like how you gave the real cost to creating a powerplant? We do not need to give exact numbers, reasonable comparisons can be made in exchange. Judges please base this off of logic and reasoning AS WELL AS persuasive evidence. My comparison is, of course, oil. Companies who obtain oil must dig holes to extract it. But in the world of my opponent, they won't get past digging the hole because of how expensive it is? That makes no sense to me. Every bit of energy we obtained must be prepared. For example, coal needs to be mined in a facility, oil needs to be drilled, nuclear energy needs to be fissioned in proper conditions, geothermal energy needs to be drilled. How is geothermal energy hole drilling any more expensive than oil hole drilling? Realistically, it is not.

My opponent goes on to say "My opponent is suggesting that we just transport thousands of gallons of water to our desired 2 to 3 mile hole and allow it to turn into steam."

Yes exactly, just like how nuclear energy requires the transportation of 60,000 tons uranium (number from your evidence cited for the "chart") each year. How does this make either sources of energy any less viable? Just because we aren't getting spoon fed alternative energy sources means we cannot work hard to obtain it? That is utter nonsense.

My opponent also says "As to my opponents second rebuttal, I am quite offended. I ask him to do his research first before making any rash statements."

No, you asked me a question where you and I both already knew the answer. Of course geothermal energy is not used 40% or more in other countries. It is a new science, we are still learning about how to make it better and more productive. I made a few comparisons to what you attempted to do with Lady Gaga, which you happened to slither right by. Judges take note of this because later on he makes the claim of hitting all of my arguments "head on" because that little line is all he said about it. He did not defend WHY energies should be judged on that scale, only that they should with no warrant for his claim, and when I call him out on his lack of warrants, he gets "offended."

He then continues his statement by saying "There is A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CIVILIAN NUCLEAR PLANT AND A NUCLEAR BOMB."

This is a great example of him not hitting MY arguments head on. My argument is not the nuclear plants are similar to nuclear bombs. It is THE PROCESS of taking energy from uranium is EXTREMELY SIMILAR to the process that creates weapons grade plutonium. Other countries are given the right to plans of nuclear powerplants, but they are under constant watch by US forces exactly for the reason that the two processes are so similar. But lets go into a scenario. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen decide to go to war with the United States. Uh oh, we already taught them how to make nuclear weapons, do you think that since there would be a war between us that they would respect our rights enough to not make nuclear weapons? Absolutely not. The risk of nuclear proliferation is greater than anything you can imagine. Communist Soviet Union actually wanted to maintain power and did not drop bombs on the US because they knew we would do the same thing. But how would an extremist country like Iran handle that situation. Amadimajhad is already trigger happy to drop bombs on our allies even without nuclear weapons. If we completely replaced nuclear energy with geothermal energy, the risk of nuclear proliferation is completely absent.

My opponent goes on to speculate with "I believe there is a reason that countries do not use geothermal energy because it is neither cost effective nor can it produce energy en mass and enough to supply demand. Nuclear can."

Well, if I was going to speculate, I would say that the reason that we use nuclear instead of geothermal energy is for three reasons.
1) it is too new. not very many people realize its potential, proven by our debate.
2) nuclear energy produces weapons grade plutonium that our military can use. (therefore the GOV funds it.)
3) The oil and coal industries have made it almost impossible to provide an alternative energy source with pure money (buying off country leaders, buying off politicians, muscling out small companies, everything needing energy relies on gas or oil.)

My opponent makes this funny statement next "Towards the end of the article, one can see that many countries that have nuclear power plants are not currently holders of nuclear weapons. I wonder why that is??"

First of all, that is nuclear weapons that we know about. Secondly, only 7 countries are ALLOWED to carry nuclear weapons. If any country carries nuclear weapons that is not the US, France, Pakistan, Israel, Russia, India, or China, they would have to go through a process to be allowed to have them. Iran and Saudi Arabia do not tell us they have nuclear weapons because they know we will not allow it.

And as to my statement that I made that confused my opponent, I agree it is confusing so let me clarify. What I meant was that if we used geothermal energy instead of nuclear energy, we could share this technology with the world without fearing WMDs, and if we did, our environment would become safer at a faster rate than with nuclear energy because our government will simply not allow most countries to build nuclear power plants. I am sorry for my grammatical mistake.

To pull this whole debate together, I have proven that geothermal energy is just as viable and just as economical as nuclear energy, but can actually be shared with the world to benefit us as a whole and without supplying other countries with the means to make nuclear weapons. My opponent says he has hit my points head on, I still have yet to see him do that. Even if nuclear energy WAS cheaper, and I will never admit that it is, it is not worth that risk of nuclear proliferation which we are forced to fear right now because we do not have control of every country. The risks of having nuclear energy outweigh the benefits. Geothermal energy has the same benefits and little to no risks. In the world of the Pro, we live in a world with great alternative energy and the possibility for every country who uses nuclear power plants to make WMDs. In the world of the Con, the same exact thing, except it can never cause nuclear winter.

Vote Con,

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by mageist24 3 years ago
mageist24
Roy
thanks for the RFD
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
The resolution should be "substitute for" not "substitute from."

Geothermal power is not remotely economical at present, and Con would have had to present very strong evidence that something specific would happen to make it economical. He didn't. Pro had the data. For debate purposes, solar power from satellites beamed down on microwaves would be an alternative; it runs 24/7 and has been studied for a very long time. Cheaper launch technology would make it practical.

Data on what is now implemented for power generation is not particularly relevant, because the debate is on what will replace fossil fuels in the future.

Uranium is surface mined rather than mined underground, so the mining process is reasonably safe. That radiation is unsafe is no more relevant than pointing out that gasoline is poisonous. The extra exposure from power plans is trivial.

Note that the debate was really only about generating electricity; cars and planes are unlikely to run on nukes.

Overall, Pro had more substance in his arguments and better back up.
Posted by Superboy777 3 years ago
Superboy777
yeah same here
im doing an essay on the topic of nuclear and was not sure pro or con

u taught me alot too.:)
Posted by mageist24 3 years ago
mageist24
Hey thanks again for the debate. I definitely learned a lot about this subject during the debate. You did well.
Posted by Superboy777 3 years ago
Superboy777
no cause i had wayyyy to much people ditch me
Posted by mageist24 3 years ago
mageist24
Take some Rhitalin bro. I am pretty busy, so I might not post my arguments RIGHT after you post yours. We will all find some way to live.
Posted by Superboy777 3 years ago
Superboy777
WHY DONT PEOPLE FINISH DEBATES LIKE WOWWOWOWOWOWOw
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
Superboy777mageist24Tied
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Vote Placed by gavin.ogden 3 years ago
gavin.ogden
Superboy777mageist24Tied
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