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

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 2/28/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 948 times Debate No: 70848
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (4)




== Structure ==

R1: Acceptance
R2: Case
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals and closing

== Rules ==

(1) You accept all definitions provided in R1. Contest any of the rules, structure, or definitions in the comment section BEFORE accepting.
(2) Try to refrain from semantics
(3) Place sources WITHIN the text of the debate--no comment section, no external link
(4) Don't break the structure

== Definitions ==

Nuclear power: "Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactors to release nuclear energy, and thereby generate electricity." --

The rest of the resolution does not need defining as it is common knowledge. Don't be a troll and use semantics :P

Minimum voting elo is 2000.
I think that is it...


First and foremost, I would like point out that there have been too many close calls with nuclear weapons. The Cold War era is a perfect example. Tsar Bomba could have ended life as we know it.
Radioactive materials have been known to cause plenty of issues. Some of the issues (emphasis on SOME) include, birth defects, death, water contamination, and radiation poisoning.
If that's not bad enough for you, then look the fear it has caused. During the Cold War era, schools practiced nuclear bomb drills. I'm sure that the Middle Eastern area is scared out of their minds that we, or other countries, will wipe them off the face of the earth with nuclear weapons. Nuclear power has the potential to destroy everything. We SHOULD be afraid. Almost every country that has nuclear weapons, has threatened other countries with them. They could be the downfall of humanity. Of all the other things that could kill us all, we are the largest threat. Without nuclear power, the world would be one step better.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent broke the first round acceptance structure, and thus loses the debate… But since my opponent is a new member I will not let that ruin the debate—so ignore that rule for this one infringement.

C1) Global warming is real and is a threat

To deny global warming is real and is a threat is akin to denying evolution, germ theory, and gravity. Of all the articles published between 1991 and 2012, a survey of the literature looked for explicit rejections of anthropogenic global warming theory. Of the 13,950 papers, only 24 rejected AGW theory [1.].

A second survey of the literature found 4,000 papers which held a position on climate change. Of those, 97% endorsed that climate change was real and that humans are the main cause of global warming. The study also found—as it tracks the consensus/minority opinion by year—that “the consensus has grown to about 98% as of 2011.” [2.].

I will leave the evidence at this. Unless my opponent opposes climate change, I will expand upon this contention. But due to the fact academics pretty much agree on the issue, I will assume my opponent will concede/agree with this point.

C2) Nuclear power reduces carbon emissions

Climate change is predominantly man-made due to the fact humanity is emitting CO2 emissions. The way to prevent warming is to find an energy source which emits the least amount of CO2 possible. A review of the research suggests nuclear power is the *best* energy source if we are to pursue an end to carbon emissions.

A review of 21 studies has analyzed the lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of different energy sources. This is measured via CO2 emitted per megawatt hour. The least clean energy sources were coal, oil, and natural gas—with natural gas being the cleanest of the fossil fuels. The three energy sources which emitted the least was nuclear power, hydroelectric power, and wind. Solar power actually emits a surprisingly high amount of CO2 at 85 tones per megawatt hour (compared to nuclear which comes in at 28). Hydroelectric and wind power emit 26 tones per megawatt hour. It must be noted, however, that the error bars for both wind and hydro are much larger than for nuclear. This means the two are about even. The maximum estimate for nuclear is 130 tones per megawatt hour, whereas wind’s max is 124 and hydroelectric at 237. The minimum estimate puts nuclear at 2 tones per megawatt hour and wind at 6. The differences between the two are so minor that the study authors concluded “Greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power plants are among the lowest of any electricity generation method and on a lifecycle basis are comparable to wind, hydro-electricity and biomass.” [3.].

The obvious objection is wind and hydroelectric, if they are comparable from a greenhouse gas emission perspective, is why not prefer them over nuclear power. The answer is efficiency. Wind is an intermittent power source. It only produces power when the wind is blowing. This means when the wind is not blowing, no energy is being created. Another power source would be needed in order to fill in the gaps. Nuclear power, as a clean source of energy, would be the obvious choice. So even assuming we put wind power everywhere, we would need nuclear power in order to keep a constant level of electricity running through the grid to meet peak demand. Hydroelectric, although a good power source, is already maxed out.

Hydroelectric, although the “best-established means of electricity generation from renewable sources”, has many issues for *future* energy production. The World Nuclear association argues, “Hydropower using large storage reservoirs is not a major option for the future in the developed countries because most major sites in these countries having potential for harnessing gravity in this way are either being exploited already or are unavailable for other reasons such as environmental considerations.” [4.].

It should be noted nuclear power has actually been shown to already save lives due to the fact it emits close to zero greenhouse gas emissions. Assuming nuclear power becomes the *sole* energy source (and depending on which energy source it replaces), research has found that “nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000–7.04 million deaths and 80–240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces” [5.].

The three energy sources needed to stop global warming—nuclear power, wind power, and hydroelectric power—require nuclear power in order to prevent environmental catastrophe. Wind power alone cannot reduce emissions as it is intermittent, and either fossil fuels or nuclear power is required to fill in the gaps, and hydroelectric power will likely not be able to create more energy than it already is today. So, no matter the angle you look at this issue, nuclear power is required to prevent catastrophe.

C3) Nuclear power provides cheap energy and is economically efficient

Not only does it provide cheap energy, but it provides jobs. One nuclear power plant generates $450 million each year of economic output, which has translated into $40 million dollars per year income for workers. Each nuclear power plant provides 400 – 700 permanent jobs which pay, on average, 36% more than other jobs in the area. Construction of a nuclear power plant provides in excess of 3,000 temporary jobs. “Analysis shows that every dollar spent by the average nuclear plant results in the creation of $1.04 in the local community, $1.18 in the state economy and $1.87 in the U.S. economy.” [6.].

In fact, other than solar power, nuclear power provides the most jobs per megawatt hour. But nuclear power plants provide the highest paying jobs and the most jobs provided in the local area—solar power makes a lot of jobs outside of the country. Nuclear power then creates the largest workforce of all of the energy sources as well as the highest paying jobs [7.].

Nuclear power is one of the cheapest forms of energy. Coal is generally regarded as the cheapest form of energy, but nuclear power actually is cheaper. “[N]uclear generat[es] power at 2.40 c/kWh, compared with coal at 3.27 cents and gas at 3.40 cents.” [8.].

A peer-reviewed study done in Finland comes to a similar conclusion. Energy prices have been increasing all over Europe, the study argued. But nuclear power’s cost only increases 9%, whereas coal got 31% more expensive and gas became 66% more expensive. Further, newer nuclear power plants are significantly reducing uranium fuel costs in order to make nuclear power even cheaper [8].

The biggest argument against nuclear power in this area is the fact nuclear power has large up-front costs. It is well known that creating a nuclear power plant can cost about 8 billion dollars. So using a lower number of 430 million, over the lifetime of a nuclear power plant (30-40 years) a nuclear power plant can create up to 13 – 17 billion dollars over its lifetime—a 5 through 9 billion dollar return. Using the higher number of 450, we get 13.5 billion through 18 billion. Using the highest estimate of 470 million per year, 14.1 billion to 18.8 billion. No matter which estimate you use, the economic profit of a nuclear power plant significantly outweighs the startup costs. In 17 years, the original construction cost is accounted for with a 460 million dollar return. Thus, nuclear power is actually a good investment.

It should be noted that the benefits of nuclear power could easily explode if government interference was reduced. The current regulatory structure “operates under an outdated regulatory system that has yet to adapt to new technology and designs, and it overregulates existing nuclear plants and technologies. … The commercial nuclear industry has a lot to offer American customers in the way of safe, efficient, abundant, and inexpensive energy, but that will require removing politics and burdensome government policies from the picture and replacing them with free-market policies to unlock nuclear energy’s potential.” [9.].

A similar conclusion was reached in a peer reviewed paper—not just by conservative extremists like me—in 2006. The paper was published in the Journal of Business Ethics. The government has significantly increased the costs while reducing the benefits of nuclear power with extensive regulation, which “has reduced the ability of entrepreneurs to develop and provide new means for the generation of energy using nuclear fuel.” [10.].

So, if government interference is reduced (or reformed), the economics of nuclear power actually becomes even better than it already is. Newer reactors are much more efficient and would make the returns much larger and make the returns come much sooner!

Nuclear power = the best power



Oh... I feel so smart right now (not), how do I forfeit... I thought this was a different topic... I apologize. Good job with your argument also!
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for graciously conceding. I suggest, in order to avoid confusion in the future, that you read the round 1. Generally the instigator (me) lays out definitions and such and prevents confusion. If my opponent wants to debate in the future about something I would gladly accept.

Vote Pro.


Meeehi10 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Meeehi10 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
I really want to accept this, but too many hard debate commitments....
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
Probably not. I got gold bugs to support a fiat money system in my debate with HG, which is an impossible task :P

The best argument against nuclear power is economic feasibility
Posted by Jonbonbon 2 years ago
Yeah it's not a truism, but I do agree with you. I'll just be following this and see if con can convince me I'm wrong.
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
It isn't
Posted by 18Karl 2 years ago
Debating a truism eh?
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Concession from Con in R2.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeits
Vote Placed by ResponsiblyIrresponsible 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. Only Pro presented arguments.