- Politics and Social Issues
Explain the Classification of the Selected Resources Shown
The low social acceptability of nuclear power is largely due to past accidents, such as Chernobyl 1986 and Fukushima 2011, which have massively increased "NIMBYism" relating to al forms of nuclear power. Because of this, there has been a relative lack of funding into nuclear (fission) power research, and the economic cost remains high, which is also due to the nature of the materials used, e.g. uranium, which is radioactive, and so is costly to extract and transport safely.
Wind power is more socially acceptable, but is held back by noise pollution, eyesore concerns, and reports of birds being killed by the turbines.
Coal is perhaps an anomaly, having high social acceptability despite having the worst environmental impacts. This may be due to its widespread use over the last two centuries, and we have only recently begun to fully understand its effects. Its low cost and high availability make it preferable to industry.
Biofuels have high social acceptability as they are marketed as a clean new renewable energy source, with relatively little environmental impact.
Burning coal releases large amounts of greenhouse gases, which lead to human enhanced global warming. This has a much greater impact on the global environment than nuclear waste, which is generally considered safe when stored properly, but takes up space, and can stay radioactive for thousands of years.
The impact of wind turbines on the environment has been assessed as more significant than that of biofuels, despite the latter often requiring rainforest to be destroyed for biofuel crops, as is common in Brazil; one of the main benefits of wind turbines is that they can be located at sea, or on brownfield sites, where habitats do not have to be destroyed to facilitate energy production.