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

The U.S. should substantially increase Nuclear energy. No What if arguements please.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/16/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,097 times Debate No: 5419
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)




I use to live in Alabama and every time we have heard tropical, we thought tropical storm. This topic has a lot to do with nuclear energy, but before we begin we need to unravel that just because you hear the word nuclear, doesn't mean nuclear bomb. Like with tropical, tropical by itself sounds like paradise, but when you add storm it turns into a Chinese fire drill. So remember when you hear nuclear, don't think bomb, think energy, two totally different things that happen to share the same word at the beginning. So now onto the resolution The United States should significantly increase its use of nuclear energy. What the topic is asking of the affirmative side to prove is why we should have more nuclear energy. First lets take a look at the history of nuclear energy and the effects of pollution. Then we will see how increasing energy means more jobs in a shaky economy and finally see why the future needs to be Nuclear energy.

Contention 1 Environment
Nuclear energy was first generated for the first time in 1951 at an experimental facility in Arco, Idaho. Since then there have been about 100 nuclear reactors created in the U.S., with the last one made operational in 1996. Why this is even important to today's debate is that the reason, why we have stopped making more plants is because of environmental pressure groups who as I stated above confuse nuclear energy with nuclear bomb. This kind of thinking has to stop, because nuclear energy is one of the safest energy sources at our disposal. Out of the 143 nuclear power plants made 39 were closed for environmental reasons. As the nuclear plants have decreased we have leaned on fossil fuels to be our main energy source. Burning coal is one of the worst energy sources to use on the environment because it is a leading contributor to acid rain and air pollution. According to Neil M. Cabreza Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, "A typical 1000-megawatt coal-burning plant emits 100,000 tons of sulphur dioxide, 75,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 5000 tons of fly ash into the environment per year while a typical 1000-megawatt oil-burning plant emits about 16,000 tons of sulphur dioxide and 20,000 tons of nitrogen oxides. These emissions account for damaging human lungs, the formation of acid precipitation that defaces monuments and buildings and kills the life in countless lakes. However, the problems don't stop here. These type of plants also emit great quantities of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide tends to trap heat on the earth's surface and thus in sufficient concentrations, could create the dreaded greenhouse effect. High enough concentrations could also increase global temperatures which could affect the distribution of rainfall and could create deserts of much of the Northern Hemisphere, causing irreversible catastrophes of unparalleled magnitude, affecting all of mankind. ", This sums it up right there, we need to get off coal now rather than later and at least start the process, by significantly increasing it.

Contention 2 Economics
According to Neil M. Cabreza again, "Because the fuel used in nuclear power plants exist in abundant supply, the price is very cheap, unlike for fossil fuels where the supply is finite and slowly diminishing. A typical fuel pellet cost about $7. This one fuel pellet has an equivalent energy of three barrels of oil, which cost $84, or one ton of coal, which cost $29. In 1993, the fossil fuels displaced by nuclear energy totaled: 470 million tons of coal and 96 million barrels of oil which translated to about $17 billion. By using nuclear energy at $7 per pellet, a savings of about $13 billion was generated in just one year. ", This simply means it is cheaper for the masses. Decreasing energy costs will also have an effect of helping the economy by having the citizens paying less for energy. This can help stimulate the economy in a variety of ways. Also the opening of new plants or old can give individuals jobs in an economy that has been shaken to its roots. So we need to increase to help our citizens survive a little easier now and of course in the future.

Contention 3 Energy security
According to the Department of Energy, "an over reliance on a single fuel source, like natural gas, is a potential vulnerability to the long-term security of our Nation's energy supply and new nuclear plants must be built in the next decade to address increasing concerns over air quality and to ease the pressures on natural gas supply. ", It is pretty simple if you depend a lot on a single energy than you will have problems. A perfect example was in the south in the 1900's, the south's major crop at the time was cotton. At that time a very smart individual named George Washington Carver warned them that they need to grow peanuts, because of a bug called the cotton weevil. The farmers who listened were fine, while the others felt the effect of all their crops being destroyed by this bug. Same thing if you invest a lot in only one area you are going to have a risk you cannot take and even though it is a what if, it is the idea of readiness. We must diversify our energy and substantially increasing it is diversifying it. We are still going to have coal and wind and solar, but we need to increase and start the increase in order to have a prosperous energy future.


Hello, my fellow debaters. In today's argument, I shall show why the U.S. should not substantially increase nuclear energy. There are a multitude of reasons not to seriously consider nuclear power beyond those installations already in place. I will address some of the major ones, and in addition, provide better alternatives to nuclear power for your comparison.

1.) Nuclear power is expensive.

Nuclear power has never, ever been cost-efficient on a private-sector basis, and there is no nuclear plant in the entire world capable of operating without very large government subsidy. This does not apply to solar or wind or any renewable energy source worth considering. On a cents per kilowatt-hour scale, nuclear energy tends to linger around 12 to 15 cents. Compare that to wind energy, 4-7 cents, or tidal energy, 2-3 cents, nuclear energy seems like a joke. Solar energy two years ago was approximately 15-20 cents, and with recent advances in solar technology making it vastly more efficient(1), and with cheap fuel cell technology recently being essentially perfected(2) allowing us to more or less store solar energy overnight, the costs of solar energy are going to drop exponentially in the very near future.

2) Nuclear power is a mature technology and it doesn't work with economies of scale.

To put it more bluntly - nuclear energy is not going to get any cheaper because of scientific advances (pebble bed reactors are still going to cost buckets of money), and it's not going to get cheaper if we make a lot of them. On the contrary, all evidence points to the fact that nuclear plants actually get more expensive the more of them you build. On top of that, nuclear plants represent massive infrastructure investments that just don't exist for the likes of solar and wind.

3.) Nuclear plants require constant supervision.

Nuclear plants are not like solar panels or windmills, which you basically just set up and then check on every once in a while. Nuclear plants are gigantic complicated things that require continuous expert staffing for good reasons (most of which involve the word "radioactivity"). And we all want safer nuclear plants, but the problem is that safer nuclear plants means more oversight, complicated devices, and staffing - meaning that the safer you want the plant, the more expensive it is to operate.

4.) Nuclear plants need enriched uranium to use as fuel.

Nuclear energy fans, when discussing the prospects for nuclear fuel, typically point out that there is loads of uranium left on the planet. The problem is that we've already used up most of the naturally occurring enriched uranium in nuclear plants already, and most of what's left isn't easily accessible. This means for the long term, we have two options: 1.) strip-mining to get at the last naturally enriched uranium, and 2.) refining the raw, low-grade uranium that is most of our planet's supply into fuel-grade uranium. Either of these skyrockets the cost of nuclear power, making economically inefficient.

5.) The new "safer" reactors nuclear energy fans love to talk about barely exist. Pebble-bed reactors are still an experimental technology. We are decades away from mass installation of pebble-bed reactors.

Now let's take that pin out of the meltdown and waste issues and discuss it rationally without talking about two-headed mutant babies. We don't have a foolproof way of burying nuclear waste that can prevent it from seeping into groundwater; even if we did, what you're then talking about is yet another additional cost assigned to nuclear power that solar and wind do not have in any meaningful context. Likewise, the necessity of preventing meltdowns greatly increases nuclear energy's cost. Even before we consider things like radioactive risk, nuclear energy is just a bad deal.

Now, the nuke-fan might respond by saying "well it doesn't matter if it's expensive or not - wind and solar can't do the job themselves." Wind can't do the job itself, that's true (it can probably do a good chunk of it, say twenty percent or so, but that's probably about it at present). Solar, however, can. If you don't believe me, go ask Popular Mechanics (3), who used a very conservative plan (which, incidentally, is already outdated less than a year later as scientific advances have rendered solar collection more efficient) and determined that the USA could be fully solar-powered by 2050 for an investment cost of about $1 billion per year.

In conclusion, I have proven that while alternative energies are needed to secure the U.S.'s energy future, nuclear is not a viable method. My opponent's first and third contentions have been addresses through my references to solar and wind energy, and the second contention blatantly disproved. Nuclear energy is inefficient, expensive, and dangerous, and there are much better alternatives available. Clearly, the only intelligent choice is to vote for CON.


Arguments taken from



Debate Round No. 1


"1.) Nuclear power is expensive.", Really hum, well according to this Information from Neil Cabreza Nuclear Engineer Berkeley, CA "Research is currently being conducted for the utilization of solar and geothermal power. These types of energy will have very little environmental impact as well as no threat of a nuclear accident, however, these technologies have not been perfected. Solar power has proven to be an expensive power source while geothermal is unreliable as well as expensive. " and the DOE "The most important long-term challenge facing renewable energy remains economic. Renewable energy costs are often barrels. it has fallen by 20 percent since then to 26 barrels
greater than those of other energy sources", From the DOE , Basicaly Renewables are a hope, they are clean, but we hope that we can achieve this. Also the evidence you showed discounting the price is lower for nuclear is not in any of the evidence you posted, so that needs to be gone from the round.

"2) Nuclear power is a mature technology and it doesn't work with economies of scale.", you mention infastructure, but your own evidence states it will cost about 14 billion dollars a year for 39 years, for the solar plan to work. On Technology that is experimental. Yes Nuclear is mature, but it is proven to work, rather than what you have said or what your evidence says about solar.

"3.) Nuclear plants require constant supervision.", All that means is more jobs for America, also your own evidence from that plan, states"It will shut down 300 coal plants, and 300 natural gas plants. What about there jobs, they are gone, which in turn hurts the economy.

4." Those prices will come but it is a abundant resource that can used over and over again and on point 5, the sdafer plants don't exist, because there has not been a new reactor since the 1970"s, so duh, your telling they haven't found anything to be safer in 30 years of research.
on YOur next evidence about wind, or a chunk, renewables only account for about 3% of all our energy at present according to the DOE.
Lastly I like other energies, but coal is terrible, however relying on one source of energy, like in my point 3 says, will harm us in the long run. The infastructure on solar is experimental from your evidence and I sorry to say it but we need to increase Nuclear energy. Thank you


While I am grateful to my opponent for providing such a rapid response, I am rather nonplussed to see that if he understood my arguments, he completely disregarded them and attempted to confuse other debaters following along with our debate. I shall endeavor to re-explain my arguments in a simpler fashion so my opponent might follow along.

1. My opponent's source, this "Neil Cabreza", is not a verifiable source. Upon searching Berkley's nuclear department website, his name cannot be found anywhere. In addition, there is no date of publication on this report, nor are the sources cited correctly, leaving me unable to look them up, despite my numerous attempts.

If this source is, in fact, a creditable source, Mr. Cabreza has made several errors, and is at the least very outdated.

In 2006 alone, the price for a pound of uranium doubled from $36.25 to $72(1). This price is that of normal uranium, which has yet to be enriched. For every one pound of enriched uranium achieved, four pounds of depleted uranium result(2), which has to be contained as radioactive waste. In addition, with the recent technological advancement of improving solar technology(3)(4), Mr. Cabreza's argument is outdated and inaccurate.

Also, documentation of prices of nuclear energy can be found here, (5), as my opponent would have found should he googled the issue.

2. Here, my opponent deliberately misunderstands the data. Let me put the issue of infrastructure into perspective:
A wind farm requires turbines and electrical grids(6).
A solar energy plant requires solar panels, solar cells, and an electrical grid.
A nuclear reactor requires (7):
Nuclear fuel
Nuclear reactor core
Neutron moderator
Neutron poison
Control rods
Reactor vessel
Boiler feedwater pump
Steam generators
Steam turbine
Electrical generator
Cooling tower
Radwaste System
Refueling Floor
Spent fuel pool
Reactor Protective System (RPS)
Emergency Core Cooling Systems (ECCS)
Standby Liquid Control System (emergency boron injection, in BWRs only)
Containment building
Control room
Emergency Operations Facility
And just under 1000 employees.

As a comparison of the infrastructure necessary and the costs the creation of such infrastructure would produce...

Clearly, wind and solar are the winners here.

3. People will not pay for expensive energy. Cheap energy is the basis of our society. Our economy is in a recession right now because of the rising energy costs. Having more jobs as nuclear plant workers means the cost of energy will rise even more, hurting the economy far more than it helps.

Should we switch to purely wind and solar power, the price of energy will plummet. This will drastically slash costs for companies, allowing them to greatly expand production, resulting in the hiring of new workers. These workers will then have more disposable income to spend on goods and services, which results in higher production, which leads to the hiring of more workers, and the cycle continues.

In comparison, nuclear power costs millions to billions of dollars to set up and keep running for higher energy prices. Solar power would cost a fraction of the price to set up and would expand the GDP.

Clearly, solar power would not hurt our economy.

4. "so duh, your [sic] telling me they haven't found anything to be safer in 30 years of research."

Yes. Yes, I am. This means for expensive energy that's going to damage our economy. radioactive waste will need to be contained for millions of years, said waste will be filtering into our groundwater, cancer rates will triple, and the possibility of meltdown will be a constant threat over day-to-day life.

5. My opponent's 3% figure is insignificant and irrelevant to this debate as we are discussing increasing energy through investment and the like. Current figures do not matter, only production costs and possible expansion fees and repercussions.

I agree with my opponent, however, on the necessity of using more than one source of energy. Wind and solar together will do the job nicely. As can the remaining oil and natural gas we have, along with the nuclear power plants already established. We simply shouldn't make any more.

In conclusion, I have re-explained my arguments in a way so even my opponent must realize his arguments and responses are null and void. I have shown nuclear energy is incredibly expensive, dangerous, and damaging to the economy. Furthermore, I have addressed all my opponents claims attacking solar energy and re-established it as a viable alternative.

I extend my other previous arguments as well, and eagerly anticipate my opponent's response in Round 3.

Debate Round No. 2


Okay for my first point to address and kick out of this debate is the one about cancer increasing because the waste reaches our water supply, the area they are burying it is in the desert underneath sandstone, and other hard rocks, basically not dirt. And there is no water underneath the area where they are burying, so this should be gone. Second the 3% is very revelant, because the simple fact is solar is expensive and that is because it is unproven. It is like electric cars, they are cool and neat, but they do not have a way to make large scales of the cars to sell at cheap prices. Same thing with alternatives(Solar,Wind), which were not discounted in this debate, even if you don't go by the Engineer from the Nuclear department at Berekely. The DOE has stated numerous times that alternatives are unproven, as I stated before Nuclear is proven technology. All of the evidence that was given to you about solar on MIT etc., it said it could, we have invented fushion in Britain, but we don't have the technology to do on a large scale. Things take a while to make and are expensive because of the time that goes into making them. So the item that was shown, showing what is needed to make the plants. Those items take along time to make, especially with solar panels. Largely solar is just unproven and why would you want to invest in unproven technology. I have not skewed anything The U.S. needs power plants now to deal with demand, we need them now, at least 2020 not in 2050 to keep up with demand. If we don't make more plants we will be in trouble, so do we invest in nuclear which is safer than Oil, Coal, and natural gas being burnt for energy. We need power plants fast and we know how to make Nuclear and it is the most reliable plant right now, so we have to go with Nuclear. Solar is probably the future, but it is largely unproven to made in a large scale, sure they probably built or have a blueprint of a plant is the god of power plants, but it is all for not, if you can't builf it on a large scale. Also I would like to thank my opponent for debating me and giving me some ideas to chew on.


In this round, my opponent again misunderstood and misinterpreted my arguments either deliberately or accidentally.

He claims that solar technology is unproven, despite the fact it has been proven for years.

He claims recent developments in solar technology are unknown, despite the fact they have been proven several times.

He claims that we need nuclear energy NOW, and that using alternative forms of energy should come later as they take too much time, despite nuclear reactors taking much longer to set up than solar power plants.

He also brings up that nuclear waste is stored in the desert, so it can't reach our water supply, despite the fact most nuclear power plants are on the East coast, where no such desert to seclude the radioactive waste exists.

In conclusion, with every point of my opponent's argument refuted, the United States should clearly NOT substantially increase nuclear energy. With your vote obliged to go to CON, I thank you for reading and bid you good day :D
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by bigbass3000 9 years ago
Yes, I know that is my point.
Posted by Rezzealaux 9 years ago
Yeah I know. But that's not an argument.

And it's the easiest ever thing to counter.

They say: "What if a terrorist steals nuclear waste?"
All YOU have to say is: "What if a terrorist doesn't? You aren't proving anything."
Posted by bigbass3000 9 years ago
All what if means, is arguements like What if a terrorist steals nuclear waste, or what if the power plant expodes. I already know those and I need to find a solid arguement on neg. On Aff as well, but Aff is what most people will side with.
Posted by Rezzealaux 9 years ago
"what if" is not an argument. it is a suggestion :D
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