The Instigator
Con (against)
14 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Nuclear Power

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: Select Winner
Started: 3/21/2017 Category: Technology
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,228 times Debate No: 101220
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (25)
Votes (2)





Smooosh applied to debate me on this topic and on these sides through my "You Choose the Topic" debate challenge. I am looking forward to an excellent round!

In order to ensure quality judging, I have nominated the following judges: Tej, Hayd, Whiteflame, Warren, Max, and Danielle. Those judges, by accepting this debate, agree to set aside their personal views on the topic and to adjudicate the round as impartially as they can; they also agree to refrain from discussing their vote or the outcome of the debate with any third party or the debaters themselves before casting their ballot. If Smooosh would like to have this list altered in any way, he should inform me before the start of the debate. The voting period lasts 14 days.


Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.


Countries - areas of land controlled by a sovereign government
Ought - implies moral desirability
Prohibit - to forbid (ban)
Production - the creation of utility, specifically, the making of goods available for use
Nuclear Power - electric or motive power generated by a nuclear reactor


1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate (unless otherwise specified in R1)
9. The BOP is evenly shared
10. Pro must post their arguments in R1 and waive in R5
11. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
12. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss


R1. Pro's Case
R2. Con's Case; Pro generic Rebuttal
R3. Con generic Rebuttal; Pro generic Rebuttal
R4. Con generic Rebuttal; Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary
R5. Con generic Rebuttal and Summary; Pro Wiaves

Thanks... Smooosh for this debate. I'm looking forward to a fun dialogue!


The primary intention of my argument, will be to convince the reader that nuclear energy is becoming obsolete. I hope to put nuclear energy in the same category as fossil fuels, and perhaps show that nuclear energies carbon footprint actually has more impact on the environment than oil, coal, and all other fossil fuels. I believe that nuclear energy represents an old standard of large, company owned energy when society is on the cusp of technological advances that will help promote individually owned energy. While energy saving batteries and solar panels become more advanced and cheaper as time moves forward, nuclear energy, and all energy companies may find it increasingly difficult to compete, and will struggle to justify their existence. If we owned the means of our own energy production, then the risks involved with nuclear energy would become unnecessary. Out of all forms of terrorism, nuclear terrorism is on the highest rung of terror. One could argue that steps could be taken to lessen the risk of a terrorist attack on a nulclear plant, but that would raise the price of nuclear energy, and there's never a garuantee. Unfortunately, terrorism is more technologically advanced too. Cyber terrorism can potentially penatrate the safeguards of a nuclear power plant, and destroy lives. The only true garuantee against such a nightmarish scenario would be to abandon nuclear energy, and embrace renewables, embrace the future. Any government investment in a renewable energy based infrastructure could potentially be paid back to the taxpayers in the form of savings on energy costs. Investments in nuclear power would come from the consumers, and may not have the same energy saving bennefit. I will show you that money used to "update" nuclear power plants doesn't fall solely on the consumers, but on taxpayers as well. In my oppinion, goverment investment in nulclear energy is nothing more than a bailout, whereas a government investment in renewables, is an investment for the future of energy.

*Nulclear is becoming obsolete*
The Tesla power wall and other products like it are becoming more of a mainstream option for home energy consumers. More and more renewables are being looked at as a viable option for homeowners and renters. Less and less are renewables being thought of as solely an environmentally conscious decision by the wealthy. Renewables are becoming more efficient and less expensive, and there's no evidence that trend will plateau anytime soon. True, waste annihilating molten salt reactors (wamsr) are a technological advancement for the nuclear industry, but they are not inducive toward individually owned energy. WAMSRs also don't represent a cheaper trending source of energy. Actually, the cost of nuclear energy may go up initially because of the cost of converting old reactors into newer WAMSRs. As time goes on renewables are becoming more of a mainstream option for energy consumers.

*Nulclear is not clean energy*
High grade uranium is a finite recourse, so nuclear energy is automatically barred from being considered a renewable energy. Nuclear reactors need uranium to function. The uranium minning process is an environmental nightmare. Just like coal minning, uranium minning leaves toxic remnants but the remnants of uranium minning are toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. And of course, just like coal minning, uranium minning needs large heavy machinery to move and process, and then needs to be shipped to the plants. All this moving and processing needs fossil burning fueled truck and machinery. Then there is the spent nuclear rods, and other nuclear waste that has to be isolated for hundreds of thousands of years. WAMSRs can help with using up much of the nuclear waste, but does nothing to lessen the environmentally disruptive minning process, and won't be able to use up all the nuclear waste. When you consider the environmental litigation, the storing of used material, the energy needed to convert nuclear power into energy, (it takes energy for nuclear conversion) then nuclear energy is very inefficient. In my humble opinion along with many in the science community, nuclear energy is the WORST polluter of all energy sources. Most scientists believe, if we stop using fossil fuels today the effects on the environment would begin to reverse in as little as a decade. If we stop using nuclear power today, we will have to deal with the environmental effects for hundreds of thousands of years to come. Don't believe the hype, nuclear energy isn't clean!

*Nulclear power plants are susceptible to terrorism*
The fact of the matter is, terrorists don't need old fashioned brute force and guns to gain control of a nuclear power plant. Cyber terrorism is the new technological weapon in the arsenal, and there's far less calorie burning required, much to the chagrin of the lazy terrorist. A skilled computer tech, or a team of techs could potentially infiltrate a nuclear power plant and shut it down, release radioactive material into the air, or even cause a meltdown. But for the nostalgic terrorist, guns and brut force still is an option.

*Nuclear power relies on goverment bailouts*
The nuclear industry has needed government assistance to help save them from bankruptcy. They also need government assistance for environmental litigation and high insurance costs. The taxpayers money needed to help the nuclear industry qstay afloat may never be reimbursed to the taxpayers, and there's no assurance that the nuclear industry will stop needing assistance for the foreseeable future because of old outdated and crumbling nuclear plants.

I would like to thank my opponent for letting me debate him on this matter. I look forward to some thought provoking argument. I wish my opponent good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Smooosh for this debate. I will now present my case.

I. Intro

Pro is implicitly using a cost-benefit analysis framework to analyze the arguments in this debate by appealing to the negative consequence he believes will arise from negating the resolution. That's fine--I can accept a cost-benefit analysis framework for this debate. This allows us to skip a lengthy framework debate and move straight into the issues.

Given that many of the disadvantages to negating (e.g. terrorism) that Pro brings up would seem to be inherent to nuclear power at all times, Pro should argue for immediate or near immediate prohibition of nuclear power. Any phase-out mere prolongs the dangers Pro talks about, if you buy that his dangers are real. This is particularly relevant in terms of global warming (GW). If the point of reducing pollution is to end global warming, then action ought to be taken immediately (as I will show later on). And if uranium mining is as polluting as Pro claims, Pro ought to want it to end now, not later. Pro himself writes, "nuclear energy is the WORST polluter of all energy sources. Most scientists believe, if we stop using fossil fuels today the effects on the environment would begin to reverse in as little as a decade." Clearly, Pro should want us to stop using nuclear "today" if this is what he's arguing.

Finally, it is important to note that it is not my task to show that nuclear energy will always be desirable in all circumstances. Merely, I must show that it ought not be prohibited. In this sense, Pro has a harder task ahead of him, because if nuclear power has neutral or beneficial outcomes, there is no good reason to prohibit it. Only if nuclear power is clearly harmful, would Pro be able to affirm under a cost-benefit paradigm.

II. Global Warming

A. GW Needs to be Tackled Soon

We've all seen the reports about rising temperatures and sea levels. We've heard political pundits on the right deny that the problem exists and castigate the left for its alarmism. Yet, the data seems to confirm that the left's alarmism may be justified. If the earth's temperature rises between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, 20-30% of the world's animals and plants could vanish. [1] This would constitute a mass extinction. Increasing temperatures could cause sea levels to rise such that island nations like the Maldives or Marshall Islands, or coastal cities like Venice and Bangkok, could become entirely submerged; it could also cause crop yields to decrease, resulting in global food shortages. [2, 3] In order to stabilize temperatures before 2050, CO2 emissions will have to fall 60-80% by that time. [4]

B. Nuclear Power cuts down on Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

"Cumulatively, nearly 60 GtCO2 have been avoided globally since 1971, thanks to nuclear power. Thus, if the present nuclear energy capacity were to be phased out and replaced by remaining technologies in the world's current energy annual CO2 emissions from electricity supply would rise by 12%." [5] These OECD findings also show that, when factoring in direct and indirect emissions, nuclear power is cleaner than coal, natural gas, biomass, solar, and hydropower energy. The example of France is also a great case study in how nuclear power can significantly and positively impact the environmental picture. In fact, "the speediest drop in greenhouse gas pollution on record occurred in France in the 1970s and '80s, when that country transitioned from burning fossil fuels to nuclear fission for electricity, lowering its greenhouse emissions by roughly 2 percent per year." [6]

C. Nuclear Plants vs. the Alternatives

I've already established that nuclear power is cleaner, in terms of GHG emissions, than the alternatives, but it also has some other advantages related to its energy capacity.

In the US, the average solar plant or wind farm operates at 15 or 25% capacity, respectively. In contrast, a "nuclear plant can operate also at 90 percent of full capacity and can replace a coal-fired plant on a one-to-one basis." It would take six solar plants or four wind plants to replace a single coal-fired plant. [7]

Moreover, many alternative forms of energy suffer from inherent intermittency. The wind is not always blowing, the sun is not always shining, and the rivers are not always flowing (or at peak fullness). Nuclear power, however, can run at the same pace year round, and is not contingent on the weather to operate.

The fact that nuclear power is clean, can produce more energy than alternatives, and is not subject to environmental conditions in the same way that the alternatives are, makes is a key tool in combating GW. It would make sense to scale up nuclear to quickly address the threat posed by GW, because of nuclear's advantages. Any phase out would likely prolong our reliance on coal, because of the inefficiencies of the non-nuclear, clean alternatives.

III. Nuclear Power's Practical Advantages

A. Nuclear Power is Cheap

"On average, in 2011, nuclear power had the lowest electricity production costs at 2.10 cents per kilowatt hour, and petroleum had the highest at 21.56 cents per kilowatt hour." Nuclear power has a lower levelized cost than advanced coal with carbon capture, conventional combustion turbine, biomass, offshore wind, photovoltaic solar, and thermal solar. [14]

B. Nuclear Power is Safe

Nuclear power kills fewer people per terawatt hour than coal, oil, natural gas, biofuel, peat, rooftop solar, wind, and hydro, averaging just 0.04 deaths per terawatt hour. [15] Since the first nuclear power plant was constructed 63 years ago, there have only been three major nuclear meltdowns: Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Of those, only one--Chernobyl--produced any fatalities [16, 17, 18]. That's 1 accident every 21 years, but, in reality, the accidents are becoming rarer. TMI and Chernobyl were less than 10 years apart, but Fukushima was 25 years after Chernobyl [16, 17]. And, Chernobyl happened only because of a design flaw that, given its notoriety, will never again be repeated.

IV. Miscellaneous Benefits of Nuclear Power

A. Nuclear Power and Medicine

Radioisotopes are key for conducting CT Scans and nearly half of all US cancer patients receive some kind of radiation-based treatment. More than 80% of drugs are tested using radioisotopes, and radioisotopes are used in medical research (e.g. finding a cure for AIDs). [8] Moreover, alternatives like cyclotrons (a kind of particle accelerator which can produce some kinds of radioisotopes) cannot replace nuclear power in serving the medical community. "More than 80 per cent of the radioisotopes used in medical procedures worldwide come from research reactors. Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which decays to form technetium-99m...the most commonly used radioisotope--is currently only produced in nuclear research reactors. A recent report (2010) from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency indicates that non-reactor technologies for Mo-99 production are still decades away from fruition, and expresses strong doubts as to whether they could ever substitute for reactor technologies." [9]

B. Nuclear Power and Vehicles

Nuclear-powered submarines are a key elements of some countries' defense forces, and prohibiting that technology could disadvantage any one of them in the face of the others, should those others not similarly prohibit that technology. Nuclear-powered icebrakers are important for keeping Arctic trade routes open, for rescues, and for research. They are more powerful than conventional icebrakers, giving them a wider range of use. [10]

C. Nuclear Power and Space Exploration

"Unmanned spacecraft rely on radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) for the power they need for space exploration. RTGs use heat from plutonium to generate electricity." [11] RTGs of this kind could also be useful for rovers. Rovers, like the European Space Agency's Rosetta, often carry solar panels and batteries that they rely on for power. Rosetta landed in an area shaded by cliffs, meaning that it could only send out data for 64 hours before it shutdown. [12] A non-solar power source, like RTGs, could prevent wasted missions like that. They could also allow rovers even in areas not subject to constant shade to transmit continuously, not just when then sun was up. This technology is currently in the works: "The Idaho National Laboratory's Centre for Space Nuclear Research in collaboration with NASA is developing an RTG-powered hopper vehicle for Mars exploration." [12] Looking towards future missions into space beyond our solar system, nuclear power will be an essential tool. "Nuclear energy proves to be the most effective when attempting to make long distance missions in space. Nuclear energy not only provides way more power than batteries, fuel cells, and photovoltaic, but it also is an enduring source of energy as it has a much longer lifespan. Unlike solar energy, nuclear power is not dependent on the intensity of the Sun's rays, which makes it the optimal choice for traveling into deep space." [13]

V. Sources

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Thus, I negate. Thanks to the readers for following along and to Smooosh for the debate. I look forward to a great debate. Please Vote Con!


Thank You Mr President for an insightful look into the "bennefits" of nuclear power. Now onto my rebuttal!

Nuclear power is safe?
I would have to consider the claim by my opponent that nuclear power is safe, to be a little more than a stretch, it's outright false. There are several factors my opponent failed to consider. First let's consider the health effects on the uranium minners!
Since most uranium minning is not done in western countries, most westerners are unaware of the effects that plague uranium minners, and that extends to the enrichment process as well. My opponent seems to downplay the effects of major meltdowns. When radioactive material is released on as large of a scale as it was at chernobyl, the radiation becomes omnipresent. It doesn't act like a liquid or a chemical which are influenced by matter, instead it radiates through the air, the vegetation on the ground, and the ground itself, including groundwater, insects and animals. It moves through solid earth as if the earth isn't even there. It contaminates the earth, the insects, the animals, the vegetation and groundwater in the effected area for hundreds of years. Only 25 to 40 deaths can be inextricably linked to the Chernobyl meltdown, but the World Health Organization says that number is probably far higher, but since radiation sickness effects each person differently, it would be impossible to directly link each death to that specific incident. Furthermore, the WHO (the organization, not the band) has noted a rise in cancer and infant mortality rates in the effected areas of the Chernobyl meltdown. More than three quarters of the nuclear power plants in the US have reported some kind of radiation leak. My opponent also brings up the fact that sea levels are rising which should also be of concern for all of us because nuclear power plants need large amounts of water, so they are built near water. It may not take a mega earthquake to cause the next nuclear accident. Because of global warming, powerful storms happen more often, these storms may be a risk to the "safety" of nuclear power. In March of 2014, a Malaysian flight with more than 200 people went missing. Officials believe the pilot purpously took the plane off course and flew it into the ocean, it has never been seen or heard of since. Could a nuclear technician with suicidal feelings be capable of sabotaging a reactor and cause unspeakable damage to lives? This scenario is conjecture I know, but in my mind, the only way to know with 100% certainty that it can't happen would be to prohibit nuclear energy.
There's also the storing of radioactive waste, which has to be stored, cooled, and monitored for 100,000 years. The facilities that store the waste has to be maintained and checked for leaks, and guarded because of the hazards it can pose to humans, and its appeal to terrorists. This does not sound safe to me. None of these problems would arise from renewable energy. If the glove don't fit, we must prohibit!

Nuclear is NOT clean.
My opponent points out that solar and wind farms need backup generators far more often then nuclear, he also points out that nuclear plants produce far more energy. I don't dispute those claims, but when you put them into context, you realize that nuclear would need to rely on backup generators just as much, if not more. Nuclear plants produce more energy than solar or wind, but when a nuclear plant is down, it would need more, or larger generators to compensate for a higher energy demand. Furthermore, as I pointed out in my opening statement, energy saving batteries are becoming cheaper and more efficient, which eliminates the need for backup generators. I also pointed out that nuclear has to rely on GHG burning equipment for minning and processing, and trucks and trains for shipping. The process of creating nuclear energy is NOT free of GHG emissions.
Thermal pollution is also an environmental concern posed by nuclear power.

When you take into consideration the cost of building an energy producing facility, and the cost of gathering and processing the fuel needed for the energy source, it gives you a wider spectrum of the true cost of your energy. This type of calculation is called "levelized cost". When you take all these points of analysis into consideration, nuclear doesn't do as well when compared to many different types of renewables. I must also point out that this analysis doesn't take into consideration any possible environmental impact posed by each power source, so renewables would fair even better vs traditional power sources.

My opponent seems to be prodding me to argue for prohibiting nuclear power immediately, however I see no need for this resolution. I think as renewables become more of a mainstream option, countries will recognize that traditional power sources are obsolete and will no longer renew the contracts needed for continuing production. Furthermore there is nothing in the proposal by my opponent that suggests I have to adhere to an "immediate end to nuclear" argument.

Testify, bsh1.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, Smooosh!

I. Uranium Mining

Most of my opponent's argumentation has to do with uranium mining. He argues at various points that it is environmentally hazardous and unsafe, though these issues are somewhat interrelated. He also suggests that the finite nature of uranium makes nuclear a non-renewable resources. It is important therefore to explain the real impact of uranium mining moving forward.

A. Breeder Reactors

Breeder reactors are reactors which produce more fissile material than they consume, allowing some of the produced fissile material to be reused as fuel. Imagine if I could produce ten units of energy, from a single unit. I can then use one of the ten units I created to create an additional ten units, and so on. The system feeds itself. [1] This kind of reactor has the potential to substantially reduce the need for uranium mining in the future because it can recycle its own fuel. Breeder reactors are 100x more efficient than other kinds of reactors, and "in fact can supply all the world's energy needs at present costs." [2] Russia, China, and India are all actively pursuing this technology, and it has already been deployed in various facilities around the world (e.g. Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant). [1] Rapid investment in and development of this kind of reactor could solve the vast majority of the harms Pro talks about by drastically cutting demand for uranium.

Breeder reactors also solve for sustainability. "It is frequently said that the amount of uranium available can support the world's energy needs for only about 1000 years. Under this definition, nuclear fission is not a very long-term energy source. Such arguments ignore the fact that usual estimates of the world's uranium resources refer to quantities available at the current market price of about $40 per pound...However, if used in breeder reactors, the cost/kWh is reduced by more than a factor of 100, so one can afford to use much more expensive uranium. For example, uranium costing $1000/lb would contribute only 0.03 cents/kW-h to the cost of electricity and would thus represent less than 1 % of the total cost. At that price, the fuel cost would be equivalent to that of gasoline priced at a half cent per gallon." [2] Taking into account various sources of uranium, my source finds that "all the world's energy requirements for the remaining 5"10^9 yrs of existence of life on Earth could be provided by breeder reactors without the cost of electricity rising b as much as 1% due to fuel costs. This is consistent with the definition of a 'renewable' energy source in the sense in which that term is generally used." [2]

B. Research & Data

If you refer back to my last speech, you will find some evidence from the OECD, which accounts for both the "direct and indirect" impacts of nuclear power on pollution. These indirect effects explicitly consider uranium mining. The report states, "there are some indirect emissions that can be attributed to nuclear energy, principally due to the use of fossil-based energy sources in the various steps of the nuclear fuel cycle (for example, during uranium mining)." Despite factoring in uranium mining, the reports nevertheless concludes that nuclear power is cleaner than coal, natural gas, biomass, solar, and hydropower energy. [3]

Pro does a lot to tell us how uranium mining pollutes the environment, but he never puts forth any empirical data which compare the polluting effects of uranium mining against the environmental clean benefits of nuclear plants. This data shows that, when all elements of the nuclear energy chain are considered, nuclear power still benefits the environment.

II. Cost Savings

A. Levelized Costs

Pro says that we should assess the cost of nuclear power using "levelized costs." I agree, which is why the data I cited used levelized costs. I repeat my study's findings: "Nuclear power has a lower levelized cost than advanced coal with carbon capture, conventional combustion turbine, biomass, offshore wind, photovoltaic solar, and thermal solar." [4] The very method Pro says is most credible supports the Con position.

B. Bailouts

Honestly, I don't see how this is relevant. Firstly, it's just non-unique. Fossil fuels and renewables are all heavily reliant on government subsidies and assistance. Consider that "[m]ost renewable energy industries are heavily dependent on government subsidies, and without constant taxpayer support, many renewable energy industries cannot survive. Both American and British renewable energy companies have failed when policymakers decrease subsidies." [5] Secondly, given how cheap nuclear is, it stands a good chance of eventually being able to ease of the subsidies, particularly once the fossil fuel industry began to fade in earnest. Thirdly, why are bailouts necessarily bad? Keeping energy prices down for consumers with subsidies benefits the entire economy, because there is no sector of the economy which does not rely on energy. Cheaper energy thus puts more money in firms pockets so that they can grow, boosting the economy.

III. Obsolete or Necessary?

Pro cites the Tesla Powerwall as an example of a soon-to-be "mainstream option for home energy consumers." This struck me as rather perplexing for several reasons. Firstly, we're not just talking about modernized countries with homes capable of accommodating such technologies and homeowners capable of buying them. Secondly, it's not clear that this technology will be able to make up from a loss of nuclear power any time soon. In the US, the Paolo Verde nuclear plant, which has three reactors, is capable of 94,488 MWh. If we divide this by three to approximate a single reactor, and then convert it to KWh, we get this number: 31,496,000 KWh. [6] Tesla's best model, by comparison, can manage 250 KWh. [7] In other words, a single nuclear reactor can produce about 126,000x the energy. As of right now, the 2,500 Powerwalls in existence seem nowhere close to being able to fill the void Pro is hoping they'll fill.

And this just isn't about the Powerwalls, novel as they are. The evidence I have shown repeatedly illustrates that nuclear plants fill a void that alternatives just can't--either because those alternatives are unable to produce sufficient quantities of energy or because of intermittency. Pro also claims that renewables will likely continue to improve apace; that's possible, but not guaranteed. But it is equally possible that nuclear power will also become "more efficient and less expensive," particularly as technologies like breeder reactors revolutionize the industry.

Finally, Pro concedes that renewables like wind and solar are intermittent, but seems to miss the part where I show that nuclear power plants can run at 90% capacity year-round. [8] Therefore, nuclear plants don't require back-up generators, unlike wind and solar.

IV. Miscellaneous

A. Terrorism

Pro cites literally no case of nuclear terrorism happening, nor does he offer any data on how likely it might be to happen. But, let's talk about some specific risks. Firstly, cyberterrorists could conceivably cause a meltdown, but only if all security protocols (including emergency shutdowns) were penetrated. Even then, it is unclear if a meltdown would kill anyone, because nearby communities are often well-trained to respond to a meltdown situation [9] and because only 1 meltdown has every resulted in fatalities. Secondly, there is the risk of a physical assault on a power plant, leading to a meltdown--which again brings up the issue of whether a meltdown would result in fatalities. Thirdly, Pro worries about "inside jobs." But, employees would likely undergo extreme vetting, making these unlikely. Finally, another fear would be terrorists stealing material to make a dirty bomb or similar device. Yet, most of the damage from a dirty bomb would be confined to the immediate area of the explosion (less than a city block up to a few square miles), and radiation levels would likely be so low that they would not pose any immediate health risks. Plus, such bombs would emit gamma radiation which is readily detectable. [10] In other words, these devices are little more lethal than conventional explosives.

B. Thermal Pollution

Pro makes a completely unsubstantiated and offhand comment about thermal pollution. In fact, thermal pollution is basically irrelevant. "The study analyzes whether the magnitude and distribution of thermal pollution is sufficient to be a meaningful contributor to global and regional climate change...The authors find that, in total, the magnitude of the thermal pollution around the globe is very small (nearly negligible) in comparison to estimates of the influence of the 'greenhouse effect'." [11]

C. Drops

Pro drops quite a few of my key arguments, including: Nuclear Power and Medicine, Nuclear Power and Vehicles, and Nuclear Power and Space Exploration. Pro never directly responds to my data showing that nuclear power kills fewer people per terawatt hour than other energy sources or to the fact that nuclear meltdowns seem to be getting rarer. He also never even mentions the France example.

D. Time

Pro says he doesn't want immediate implementation. But, remember, emissions must drop 80% by 2050 to avert a GW catastrophe. If he can't show that alternatives can achieve this without nuclear, he incurs those harms. And if he truly believes nuclear is net contributor of pollution, he should want to stop them sooner rather than later to avert that threshold.

V. Sources

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4 - R2, Source 14
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8 - R2, Source 7
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Thus, I negate. Thanks to the readers for following along and to Smooosh for the debate. Please Vote Con!


Breeder reactors are nothing new!
My opponents gleaming description of fast breeder reactors gives the reader a sense that breeder reactors are the great white hope for the nuclear industry. Finally, the problem of nuclear waste can be solved. Whoa whoa, don't break out the champagne just yet. Fast breeder reactors are nothing new, they've been around since the dawn of nuclear power. The breeder reactor was created by Leo Zhilard in 1943, and anyone who knows that name, knows that Dr Zhilard worked on the Manhattan project. Breeder reactors are nothing new, and there are reasons they haven't been in wide use commercially since their inception. This technology has proven to be insanely expensive to create, and breeder reactors are known for being unreliable. One might get the idea that these reactors can just start eating up spent nuclear waste material like a hungry hippo and that's the end of that, but the truth is breeder reactors still need a reliable source of uranium. Also, the nulclear waste these reactors can allegedly clean up, needs further processing before it's reactor ready, and that's an industrial sized operation, and also leaves a radioactive salt residue that will need to be stored. If we look at plutonium as a commercial commodity, plutonium costs are known to swing wildly because of processing costs, and ever changing global policy on storing, procesing, and shipping. Experiment breeder reactors have never been able to reach their intended goals of output because of plutonium cost. Also there are fears of shipping the plutonium, because those shipments could be sought after by terrorists, or could be invoved in an accident, which could cause an environmental catastrophe. There are a number countries that are in persuitt of developing this technology, but many scientists around the world point out that Germany and France have tried this technology in the seventees and they did not have gleaming results.

Nulclear reactors take to long to build.
My opponent claims nuclear power is the most effective way to reduce global warming. He points to the year 2050 as the point of no return. Page 9 of this report shows, the US National Commission of Energy estimates the US would need to build 300 to 400 new reactors in the next 30 to 40 years for the US to become carbon free. Nuclear reactors can take up to 10 years to build and have taken far longer, and no country has the ability to build that many reactors in that short of a time frame. I'm sorry, but nuclear power is not a viable option for reducing green house emissions to a safe level by 2050. Furthermore, I do concede that solar and wind farms produce less energy than nuclear, because that is the old outdated standard of renewables, and they need to rely heavily on fossil fuels. The new standard of homeowner solar or wind, combined with energy storing batteries is becoming more efficient and less expensive and will not need to rely on fossil fuel backups. Energy storing batteries may not be able to store enough energy yet, but I wonder what this debate will be like 5 or even 10 years from now. We must realize there are so many companies working toward the goal of "off the grid" energy production that by a simple calculation of reason, renewable energy will continue to advance rapidly and will easily meet the goal of cutting carbon emissions by 2050. Here's another renewable technology coming to fruition.

Are you prepared for nuclear terrorism?
My opponents (and all of societies) near complacent attitude toward nuclear terrorism is frightening. Harvard University concluded that there are so many organizations working toward the same goal of nuclear terrorism that we have to expect that a nuclear terrorist attack WILL occur in a western nation eventually. Even more alarming is that same report said that we cannot rule out the possibility of a terrorist organization building an improvised weapon that could be as destructive as the Hiroshima bomb! A US and Russian joint report said that once a terrorist organization is able to obtain the components needed, it would only take a few skilled technicians to build an improvised nuclear weapon.

Inside job!!!!
My opponent brings up the fact that nuclear technicians and anybody who has access to a nuclear power plant goes through a stringent background check and psychological examination, however he showed no evidence of that. I pointed out that an airliner packed with passengers went missing, and it's believed the pilot purpously downed the plane. I should point out that pilots go through a stringent background check, and psychological check as well, but that's not a fix all solution by any means. Furthermore, there are no global governing laws on nuclear plant vetting procedures, and even if there were, these procedures could certainly not be enforced in countries that are unfriendly to western countries. A terrorist organization could concievably get what they need in another country to inflict the harm in our country.

Nuclear relies on goverment bailouts!!!
Government investment in renewables are a measure of implementing new technology and making it more available to the public. Government investments in nulclear energy, is to save nuclear energy companies from failing. I understand renewable energy relies on goverment money to help bring their products to the masses, and to help further develop promising technologies. Renewable energy is on the cutting edge of advancement, whereas nuclear energy has nothing more to offer. There is no "new" reactor prototype. Waste annihilators and fast breeders have been around since the inception of the industry. I will answer my opponents question "why are bailouts necessarily bad?" In my oppinion, if taxes are taken from someone who does not rely on nuclear power, and used to help stabilize nuclear energy costs, it's not fair to that taxpayer, and it's not ethical. Furthermore, if taxes are taken from someone who does rely on nuclear power, then they're paying twice. That's not really cost stabilization. If tax dollars are taken from taxpayers to invest in a new technology (renewables) that will eventually be paid back to said taxpayers in the form of lower energy costs, then that's a smart government investment. The renewable industry will eventually be self reliant and prove to be more cost effective, the nuclear industry has never been capable of that.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks, Smooosh.

I. Breeder Reactors

Pro argues that breeder reactors are expensive, unreliable, and are susceptible to terrorism.

Shipping plutonium would be a rare event, largely because breeder reactors can make their own plutonium. "[T]he number of neutrons produced per plutonium-239 fission is 25% more than from uranium, and this means that there are enough (after losses) not only to maintain the chain reaction but also continually to convert U-238 into more Pu-239...So, the fast reactor 'burns' and 'breeds' fissile plutonium...Both U-238 and Pu-240 are 'fertile' (materials), i.e. by capturing a neutron they become...fissile Pu-239 and Pu-241 respectively." [1] In other words, breeder reactors would only require an initial shipment of plutonium before basically becoming self-sufficient. This minimizes the risk of terrorist attacks on plutonium shipments. The same holds true for uranium.

Breeder reactors could reduce the risk of plutonium-related terror by reducing the world's plutonium supplies. Regarding civilian plutonium waste, "much of that British plutonium...has been extracted from spent fuel with the intention of using it to power an earlier generation of fast reactors that were never built. This makes it much more vulnerable to theft and use in nuclear weapons than plutonium still held inside spent fuel, as most of the U.S. stockpile is." [2] Plutonium stockpiles are already sitting around. Either we use it as fuel, or we bury it and isolate it for thousands of years. Pro has repeatedly railed against the latter option as dangerous and potentially calamitous for the environment, so it seems wiser to simply use it up as fuel. Moreover, no one has even built a geological repository for this kind of plutonium. [2] Since plutonium reactors can be run in different ways (i.e. to maximize plutonium creation, to stabilize plutonium levels, or to destroy plutonium introduced into the system) breeder reactors are capable of both destroying these reserves and later being adapted to stabilize the amount of plutonium (so no new shipments or mining). [2] Such a process would reduce the net amount of available plutonium reserves in the world, decreasing the risk that such material could be used for nefarious ends, including in terrorism. This plan would also prevent the creation of the kind of waste storage sites Pro objects to. It's a win-win.

Simply put, "[t]he plutonium stockpiles have to be dealt with. The only viable alternative to re-use is burial, which carries its own risks, and continued storage, with vast expense and unknowable security hazards to present and countless future generations." Since breeder reactors are the only way to eliminate these stockpiles, we need to be investing in breeder technology. [2]

As for the other issues, Pro says that breeder reactor technology has been "expensive to create." Firstly, developing the technology and implementing it are different issues, and it seems that, overtime, breeder reactors would likely recoup any initial losses by substantially reducing the expenses related to uranium and plutonium mining and shipment. Recall that in breeder reactors, the cost of uranium supplies is reduced "by more than a factor of 100." [3] Secondly, even if Pro were to demonstrate that breeder reactors are costly, that is not the same thing as proving that their utility does not justify their cost, however usurious that cost may be. Finally, the issues of reliability Pro talks about, and also his arguments regarding cost, seem to hinge (based on a quick reading of his sources) on a single bungled test reactor experiment in India and an example in Japan, which went afoul more because of administrative incompetence than anything else, as the article notes. Neither of these cases indicate inherent flaws in the technologies or plants themselves.

II. Too Long to Build

I looked at Pro's source, and at the source Pro's source cited. I found no substantiation for the claim that 300 to 400 new reactors would be needed in the next 30-50 years. I found precisely one reference to this statistic in the original report, buried on page 58. It reads in part: "If the number of nuclear reactors in the United States is to double or triple over the next 30 to 50 years, however, and the number worldwide is to grow ten-fold--as would be needed to have a large impact on greenhouse gas emissions." [4] Forgive me if I don't find this un-sourced claim particularly inspiring. It is also interesting to note that this same report, on page 109, argues for expanding nuclear energy, not curtailing it. [5] If Pro is going to endorse the claim on page 58, he should not be able to avoid endorsing the claim on page 109.

Even so, the example of France--which was dropped completely by Pro earlier--is a key success story in regard to rapid decarbonization. It manage to rapidly expand its nuclear capacity from the early 1980s to 2007 (a little under 30 years). In conjunction with the nuclear program, it also increase hydroelectric plants, so that 90% of its power was supplied by those two sources in 2007 (75% by nuclear alone). This more than meets the 60-80% goal within the timelimits given. France also used some innovative techniques to assist in the rapid development of nuclear power: "the most important aspect of French nuclear policy is its procurement strategy, which is centered on producing one standard nuclear technology, the pressurized water reactor...By focusing on a single type of reactor, the government encouraged standardization, economies of scale, rapid construction and quick installation in the emerging nuclear industry." [5] If other countries replicate the French model, it is not inconceivable that the danger threshold could be averted in time. This is empirically demonstrates that what I propose can be done.

It's also worth mentioning that I, of course, am not arguing for nuclear power to the exclusion of all other sources. I think nuclear is a key part of our energy portfolio, but, as with France, it should be combined with other useful energy sources. Also, I do not need to endorse "complete" decarbonization--only 60-80% decarbonization.

Finally, Pro makes some vague mention about in-home energy sources, saying: "Energy storing batteries may not be able to store enough energy yet, but I wonder what this debate will be like 5 or even 10 years from now." But that is just the point: all Pro can do is wonder. There has been scant evidence in this debate that things like the Powerwall will be able to solve in time. Pro is trying to create a panacea out of hopes, dreams, and optimism--none of which happen to be concrete data and none of which always materialize in the face of an oftentimes frustrating and difficult world.

III. Terrorism

Pro gives no reason why nuclear terror is unique to my world. Recall that we already have large stores of fissile material that are not simply going to vanish if nuclear plants shutdown. If a nuclear terrorist incident is inevitable, it is inevitable no matter which side prevails. We cannot even know if the incident would be worse in one world or another because such arguments boil down to mere speculation.

To make a true nuclear bomb, terrorists would need highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium. [6] Regarding the latter, I've already explained how negating could make terrorists using plutonium less likely. Regarding the former, HEU is currently being phased out of most of the reactors that use it, in favor of LEU. [7] This policy ought to continue, and would significantly impede efforts by terrorists to make a Hiroshima-esque bomb, or even something less grandiose.

Pro adds that I haven't shown that people need to be background checked in order to access nuclear plants. I would've thought that self-evident, but there is evidence which supports my assertion. [8] I would also posit that it is more likely than not that nuclear technicians will have more thorough security checks than airlines pilots given the sensitivity of their jobs and of the technology they work with. Even in states unfriendly to the West, e.g. North Korea, understand that it would be idiotic not to secure their nuclear facilities.

IV. Bailouts

Firstly, my opponent lambastes breeder reactors as costly to develop, yet justifies massive subsidies for renewables because those subsidies are there to support new industries. This is hypocritical on its face. Even if the technology existed before, it is now being deployed on a scale it never had been before. In that sense, it is a new industry. Why support subsidies for one, but not the other? Secondly, the subsidies for renewables are still there to stop them failing. If the argument is that bailing out companies that couldn't otherwise survive is bad, then we ought not to be bailing out renewables either. Thirdly, nuclear will likely recoup its costs, as shown earlier. Fourthly, Pro never really contests that keeping energy costs down through subsidies benefits the economy. Finally, since we're using a cost-benefit analysis weighing calculus in this debate, Pro's ethical concerns about taxpayers are simply irrelevant. They don't weigh.

V. Drops

Since R4 is Pro's last speech, he cannot rebut anything he has dropped so far, per the rules against new arguments. Pro has dropped a lot--that thermal pollution is irrelevant, the OECD data, the levelized cost data, the Tesla Powerwall's pitfalls, that nuclear plants don't need back-up generators, and all four arguments under "Terrorism" in my R3, not to mention all the drops I noted under "Drops" in R3. These points are all now untouchable. I'll impact them next round.

VI. Sources

1 -
2 -
3 - R3, Source 2
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -

Thus, I negate. Thanks to Smooosh and the readers. Please, Vote Con!


Breeder reactors are a pipe dream!!!!!!
I'm perplexed by my opponents claim that "ship(ment of) plutonium would be a rare event". Plutonium is the by-product of the nuclear reaction process, it is essentially nuclear waste. Most of the worlds plutonium is stored in safe storage facilities, not at the power plants themselves. My opponent claims that fast breeder reactors can reduce the worlds plutonium supply, and he claims that shipping would be a rare event. For the breeder reactors to reduce the worlds plutonium supply, all the plutonium would need to be shipped to said reactors. The claim that shipping of plutonium would be rare, is entirely false.

Furthermore, as I've pointed out before, this plutonium is not reactor ready, it needs an extra process of fusion with a heavy metal before it could be used in a breeder reactor. This extra process is an industrial sized task, which would require specialized processing plants, which would compound the already outrageously high price of the breeder reactors themselves. After the plutonium fusion process, there is a radioactive salt residue left behind. The nulclear industry has no plans in place to deal with the residue, and doesn't even speak of the residue for that matter. It would probably need to be stored away in a safe facility for hundreds of thousands of years. There is also the fact that this reprocessed plutonium is a very pure form of plutonium, and it would cause untold devestation if it were involved in an accident during shipment. This very pure plutonium would be exactly what a terrorist would need to build a true nuclear bomb.

The idea of breeder reactors being used commercially, borders on pseudo science, or science fiction. I challenge my opponent to answer one simple question. IF BREEDER REACTORS HAVE BEEN AROUND SINCE 1943, WHY ARE THEY NOT IN WIDESPREAD COMMERCIAL USE TODAY? In my oppinion the high cost, (which is estimated at 4 to 8 billion dollars) and the time it takes to make these reactors, coupled with technical difficulties that still have yet to be completely worked out, make these reactors an expensive option at best. Furthermore, any potential accident of a breeder reactor could make Chernobyl look like a nice walk in the park.

This statement is irrefutable: there has never been a commercially successful breeder reactor. Yes, there are a few breeder reactors in use today, but they are experiments in the economic feasibility of breeder reactors, which many countries have tried in the past, but all have failed.

My opponent claims that the high cost of breeder reactor development is different than implementation of those reactors. I find that argument holds no water, because the cost of developing those reactors will be passed onto the consumers, or the taxpayers. The nulclear industry are not going to eat the losses out of the kindness of their hearts, someone will have to pay for it.

Proponents of fast burning breeder reactors, and waste annihilating molten salt reactors, and any other experimental reactors will still try and push the need for further investment in the nuclear industry, even in lieu of all the evidence that nuclear waste reuse is expensive and dangerous. The only argument these proponents are left with, sounds more like a threat than a credible argument when they say, it's the only option we have to get rid of the worlds nulclear waste. So, what there trying to say is, WE have to pay for cleaning up the nuclear industries waste!?! I think that WE as a society are smart enough to not be intimidated or fooled by the nuclear industry any longer!!!

Invest in renewables instead!!!!!!!
There seems to be alot of back and fourth about government investment (bailouts) in this debate, and I'm not willing to let that die. My opponents argument relies heavily on the fact that renewables rely on goverment subsidies. I'm a libertarian, so the idea of any government subsidies sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, but there is an energy crisis looming, our energy consumption is polluting our earth, and we need to deal with it. If we are going to collectively invest in a RENEWABLE, clean energy source, then that is a government investment that I will except. If we will continue to invest in an industry that leaves behind a toxic pollution that remains for hundreds of thousands of years, and there method of waste clean-up is unproven and underdeveloped, then that's unacceptable in my mind. I've provided evidence that renewable energy costs are continuously falling, while renewable energy efficiency is continuously rising. My opponent does nothing to show that nuclear energy costs are falling, or even stable, only to say that government investment in nulclear energy is what's needed for stabilizing costs.

Prove nuclear power is safe!!!!!
My opponent will need to show that reprocessing plutonium into the very pure strain needed for use in a breeder reactor, and then shipping that plutonium, is not dangerous. This highly pure strain of plutonium is exactly what a terrorist would need "to make a true nuclear bomb". The best method for keeping the ingredients of a true nuclear bomb out of the hands of terrorists, would be to not reprocess the plutonium, and abandon nuclear power altogether.

My opponent fails to prove that nuclear power plants are 100% safe from cyber-terrorism or infiltration by force. All my opponent can offer as a rebuttal to this point is the fact that it hasn't happened in the past. I brought up the fact that US and Russian intelligence both consider a nuclear terrorist attack inevitable.

My opponent opponent didn't even touch the fact that the UN and WHO both concluded that the true death toll of Chernobyl can never truly be known because radiation sickness can sometimes takes years or decades to kill someone, therefore can't be directly linked to Chernobyl, even though the initial radiation poisoning may have caused the death. My opponent shows a rather complacent attitude toward the possibility of a nuclear accident. Given the fact that major meltdowns have taken place in the past, proves it can happen again. My opponent also entirely dropped the point I made that, since most nuclear power plants are built by water, the possibility of an accident (flood at a nuclear power plant) is elevated, especially in lieu of rising sea levels and more frequent and more powerful storms.

Nuclear power cannot impact greenhouse gas emissions in time!!!!!!!!
I brought up the fact that the US National Commission of Energy estimates that the US would need to build 300 to 400 reactors before 2050 to make an appreciable impact on greenhouse gas emissions. I think his rebuttal missed the point entirely. That would mean 10 reactors a year for the next 30 years. I'm gonna go out on a limb, and call that impossible to do, furthermore that number of 300 to 400 reactors is only for the US, it doesn't include the number of reactors every other country would have to make by 2050. I implore my opponent to prove that either those numbers are a miscalculation, or that those numbers are an achievable task.

I've assembled a number of questions that may help the reader put into context the many points made in this argument, and possibly make a better essesment of the argument.

*Has my opponent proven nuclear power to be the most environmentally safe energy option?
*Has my opponent shown that breeder reactors, or "next generation reactors" are safe, clean, and economically sound?
*Has my opponent shown that breeder reactors are a viable option, or a continually failed experiment?
*Has my opponent proven that meltdowns, radioactive leaks, or nuclear accidents are a thing of the past?
*Has my opponent proven nuclear power costs are stable?
*Has my opponent shown that the nuclear industry can be self sufficient and function without government subsidies?
*Has my opponent shown that nuclear terrorism is impossible, or not likely?
*If my opponent hasn't shown that nuclear terrorism is unlikely, has he shown that nuclear terrorism is not very impact full?
*Will my opponent answer the question I pose to him, if breeder reactors have been around since 1943, why aren't they in wide spread commercial use today?

*Have I proven renewables are safer than nuclear energy?
*Have I proven renewable energy costs are falling?
*Have I proven renewable energy is continually becoming more efficient?
*Have I cast doubt on the ability of the nuclear industry to eliminate the possibility of an accident during shipment of reprocessed plutonium?
*Have I shown that reprocessed plutonium can become a tool for terrorists?
*Have I shown that breeder reactors are not economically sound?
*Have I shown breeder reactors are unreliable, and unsafe?
*Have I shown that breeder reactors are just a failed experiment by the nuclear industry?
*Have I cast doubt on the ability of the nuclear industry to eliminate the nuclear waste it has accumulated over time?
*Have I shown to you that nuclear energy is becoming obsolete?
*Have I shown to you that nuclear energy is an unreliable, expensive and dangerous option?
*Have I shown to you that we would benefit greatly from investments in renewable energy?
*Have I shown that investments in nuclear energy is needless?

I would like to extend my gratitude to bsh1 for this debate, it is the most interesting one I've been involved in. It was a great reminder of why I love this site. I wish bsh1 good luck, I hope to have more interesting debates with you in the future!!!
Debate Round No. 4


Thanks, Smooosh, for a great debate!

I. Breeder Reactors


Why did I mention breeder reactors in the first place? I mentioned them as a possible way to solve for the harms of uranium mining pollution. By dropping the OECD evidence, Pro has breeders irrelevant. The OECD evidence shows that, when factoring in direct and indirect emissions (including uranium mining pollution), nuclear power (not just breeders) is cleaner than fossil fuels, biomass, solar, and hydro. The report adds "[c]umulatively, nearly 60 GtCO2 have been avoided globally since 1971, thanks to nuclear power." [1] In other words, nuclear power is cleaner than some of the renewables Pro endorses. In fact, Pro repeatedly mentions and defends solar throughout this round.

B. Shipment

I think it is clear from the text of my argument that I meant the shipment of plutonium and uranium from mines would become rarer. And, in the long term, all types of shipment would become rarer, because after existing stockpiles of these elements are eliminated, the breeder reactors can be converted to become self-sustaining, without the need to new mining operations.

C. Plutonium

Pro criticizes me for failing to prove that "nuclear power plants are 100% safe" from terror. Yet, Pro is quick to say that the plutonium in his world will be "stored in safe storage facilities, not at the power plants themselves." Can Pro assure me that those safe storage facilities are 100% safe from terror? Of course not. Pro is imposing an absurd double standard. The real issue is not whether either of us can be 100% safe, but rather whether nuclear power is safe enough that the benefits offset the risks.

Moreover, in Pro's world, there will be more net plutonium than in mine. Obviously, if our goal is to minimize the chances of that plutonium falling into the wrong hands, we ought to attempt to destroy it. That means voting Con.

On the point about costs, the plutonium from the already existing stores would not require additional refinement. My source explicitly notes that these stockpiles have already been "purified," because they were "extracted from spent fuel with the intention of using it to power an earlier generation of fast reactors." [2] Even if they did require refinement, that would only be a temporary expense, as eventually the reactors would become self-sustaining. This gets back to the issue of long-term vs. short-term costs.

D. Costs

Pro is only focusing on short-term costs. As I said in my last speech: "overtime, breeder reactors would likely recoup any initial losses by substantially reducing the expenses related to uranium and plutonium mining and shipment. Recall that in breeder reactors, the cost of uranium supplies is reduced 'by more than a factor of 100.'" Pro never substantively addresses my argument here; he says only that the "costs will be passed on to consumers." But again, those costs will only be passed on in the short-term; in the long-term, it should end up saving consumers money.

On commercial viability, I would point out that his source cites a single failed breeder reactor from 1966. Again, this is cherry-picked, just like his random example from India. His Japan example wasn't even the fault of the reactor itself--his own source placed the blame for the reactor's failure at the feet of incompetent administrators, not faulty technology. The fact is, nuclear technology has come a long way since 1966, and we're now seeing breeders come into commercial use. As I noted in R3, China, India, and Russia are all pursuing this technology; I even cited the Beloyarsk facility, which employs a commercial breeder reactor.

Pro's other source (buzzle--which doesn't seem credible to begin with) is undated, so I cannot know if it reflects every breeder reactor currently in use. The source only says that the breeder reactor is not commercially viable. This seems no different than non-commercially viable renewables or normal nuclear plants, which are all supported by government subsidies.

Finally, all of Pro's cost arguments are meaningless if we determine that breeder reactors are worth the expense. Pro writes: "If we are going to collectively invest in a RENEWABLE, clean energy source, then that is a government investment that I will except." I have already shown that breeders (a) solve for sustainability--they could fulfill our energy needs for the next 5 billion years (see R3; Pro dropped that argument) and (b) are clean. It seems I've met Pro's own criteria.

II. Safety

A. Attributable Deaths

Pro dropped that "[n]uclear power kills fewer people per terawatt hour than coal, oil, natural gas, biofuel, peat, rooftop solar, wind, and hydro, averaging just 0.04 deaths per terawatt hour" (see R2). These hard numbers are going to outweigh all of Pro's speculative comments about Chernobyl. Pro never disputes that only Chernobyl resulted in deaths--not Fukushima, not TMI--and he engages in rhetorical fear-mongering to make the Chernobyl disaster seem as bad as possible. The fact is, Pro doesn't know how bad it was--perhaps it was 100 deaths, or 500. Pro can't tell us. I gave you hard numbers; prefer them over conjecture.

Moreover, nuclear pollutes less than solar at the very least (per the OECD data), and so is gaining some advantage there. Pro never contested that nuclear meltdowns are becoming rarer. The time between the first two meltdowns (TMI, Chernobyl) was less than half of the time between the most recent two meltdowns (Chernobyl, Fukushima). Pro has also failed to respond to the argument that Chernobyl only failed due to a design flaw that now, given the flaw's infamy, is unlikely to ever be repeated.

B. Drops

Add in my medical arguments here. These went entirely conceded throughout the debate. 80% of drugs are tested using radioistopes. You need nuclear reactors to get the right radioisotopes. Pro's world would be a world where 80% of drugs failed to undergo necessary or useful testing. Pro's world would also make conducting CT scans more difficult and deny more than half of US cancer patients needed treatments. That only endangers life. If you use medicine, Pro's world is not the safer one.

C. Terrorism

Pro dropped a litany of points: (a) the possibility of nuclear terrorism is not unique to my world, (b) HEU is currently being phased out of most reactors in favor of LEU, (c) dirty bombs are not significantly more dangerous than conventional explosives, (d) nuclear meltdowns have historically not been very deadly and (e) people who live near reactors are usually well trained and equipped to respond to a meltdown. Keep in mind too, no nuclear terrorist incident has yet occurred.

Terrorists have two options: either steal fissile material to weaponize or trigger a meltdown. Meltdowns haven't been been very deadly in the past, and because employees are background checked and electronic systems are digitally protected, it would be hard to even trigger a meltdown. Also, because LEU is substantially less of a threat and because dirty bombs are not really more dangerous than conventional ones, it doesn't seem like stealing nuclear material would be all that productive for the terrorist either.

III. Too Long to Build

Pro's decision to merely restate his original argument does nothing to respond to the attacks I made against that argument. There was no internal justification within his source for that 300-400 number. His own source even called for expanding nuclear power--if he trusts the report, he should trust all of it, including its support of my position. That 300-400 number was based, according to Pro, on complete decarbonization by 2050, which is not my advocacy. And, most importantly, Pro entirely drops the example of France, which is a case study in how to do exactly what I am proposing. France proves that my proposal is feasible.

IV. Miscellaneous Offense

A. Alternatives

Pro dropped that renewables are intermittent and require back-up generators, unlike nuclear plants. He conceded that nuclear plants produce substantially more power than alternatives. Both of these factors make nuclear an important part of our energy portfolio; nuclear makes up for renewables' deficits.

Pro also talks vaguely about in-home energy sources--but all he does is speculate. He dropped his only concrete example of these (the Powerwall).

B. Costs

Pro drops the levelized cost data (which isn't specific to breeder reactors). I am therefore showing (by Pro's preferred method) that nuclear reactors are cheaper than fossil fuels, as well as "biomass, offshore wind, photovoltaic solar, and thermal solar."

Pro also basically drops his bailout argument, saying only that he's a libertarian. But the standard in this debate is cost-benefit analysis, and his personal convictions don't change that.

C. Really Miscellaneous

Pro drops the stuff about nuclear vehicles and space exploration. At the very least, these offer some kind of benefits.

V. Conclusion

This debate comes down to weighing the costs against the benefits. In terms of costs, terrorism represents a minimal risk because it is not clear that nuclear plants would enhance their killing ability. Meltdowns rarely produce fatalities and dirty bombs aren't anything to write home about. Breeder reactors may not be good in the short-term, and some vague in-home alternatives may eventually materialize. In terms of benefits, nuclear power kills fewer people per terawatt hour than alternatives, is essential for medical treatments and research, is cheaper than alternatives (per levelized costs), are clean, produce large volumes of energy, could help us explore space, and could help us (via the French model) avert the GW danger threshold. Nuclear is safe, affordable, and useful. The benefits clearly outweigh the costs, and, therefore, we ought not prohibit it. Thus, I negate.

VI. Sources

1 - R1, Source 5
2 - R4, Source 2

Thanks to Smooosh and to the readers and voters. Please, VOTE CON!


Pro waives the final round.
Debate Round No. 5
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 9 months ago
>Reported vote: Whiteflame// Mod action: NOT Removed<

7 points to Con (Select Winner). Reasons for voting decision: RFD given here: Sorry, it's a little broken up (I left out a portion of the second part and posted it later, so make sure you scroll down to the third post before going back to the second)

[*Reason for NON-removal*] The link to the full vote is clearly given and works. Furthermore, after reviewing the vote in the link provided the voter gives more than sufficient analysis of the arguments given by both sides.
Posted by Smooosh 9 months ago
It was a great debate. Congratulations bsh1. If ever your not busy, I would love to revisit this topic, or any other you may think of. Thanks!
Posted by bsh1 9 months ago
This was an interesting debate. I took a devil's advocate position, so it was fun to challenge myself. It was a great debate.
Posted by bsh1 9 months ago
Smooosh, just copy and paste the URL into the search bar. Or go to the forum named in the links and search for the thread.
Posted by Smooosh 9 months ago
I can't click on the links they posted for their RFDs for some reason.
Posted by Smooosh 9 months ago
I can't click on the links they posted for their RFDs for some reason.
Posted by warren42 9 months ago
Finishing up my RFD.
Posted by bsh1 9 months ago
Done. Just post "waive" or something like in the final round and then it can be turned over to the voters.
Posted by Smooosh 9 months ago
Thank You sir, I will not disappoint!!!!!
Posted by bsh1 9 months ago
You've got just 7 hours to post, Smooosh.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 9 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD given here: Sorry, it's a little broken up (I left out a portion of the second part and posted it later, so make sure you scroll down to the third post before going back to the second)
Vote Placed by warren42 9 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: