Is a Nuclear-Free World a Realistic Aim?
Will we ever stop using Nuclear Sources?
"A world without nuclear weapons is less stable and would be more dangerous." This statement is made by Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Britain and is indeed some sort of reflection on reality. We have witnessed nuclear disasters such as the Chernobyl explosion in Russia and the nuclear plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan that resulted in thousands of casualties. However, nuclear technology has brought us many benefits that its merits have outweigh the possible consequences. Although some may propose the use of treaties and agreements to eliminate the use of nuclear technology, we cannot deny the fact that not all nations possessing nuclear technology will abide to it.
Nuclear Energy Shortage
A nuclear-free world may not be a realistic aim as nuclear plants are essential to generate sustainable energy for the current and future generations of humans. As the demand for energy consumption skyrockets due to greater use of electrical appliances in the years to come, the world needs a source of energy which may be harnessed to meet the demand and yet keep the earth free from pollution. Up to this date, nuclear energy is the key to this problem. Nuclear energy has been harnessed in Japan to power up at least 40% of households in 2011 and after the catastrophic nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, it faced an urgent shortage of electricity for a short period of time. Thus nuclear energy may be very imperative to some of the nations. Nuclear technology may be the only source of sustainable and clean energy that the humans may use and ergo, relinquishing the use of nuclear technology may not be practical for the time being.
Nuclear Weapon - Gain Control
Nuclear weapons may empower the political status of a country and thus abandonment of such tool may not be realistic as they may want to use it to protect its dominance in the world. A single nuclear bomb may be enough to destroy the whole Washington in U.S in minutes and cause an aftermath of inhabitability and complete retardation of the civilization in that affected areas for at least 100 years. How horrifying is that! The consequences of engaging the nuclear weapons are dire and detrimental. Some countries saw this technology as a possible tool to threaten the sovereignty between the nations in a bid to receive economic aids or to gain advantage in the political stance. An example would be North Korea which equipped themselves with such technology in the late 1970s. The late great supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il once signed an agreement with the U.S for nuclear disarmament in exchange for food aid.
However, recently, the new supreme leader Kim Jong Un broke the agreement and was ready to declare nuclear war with the world and once again question the possibility of achieving a zero-nuclear world. hence, it is an unrealistic aim for a nuclear-free world for which the attractiveness for some nations to utilize it as a bargaining chip is very strong.
Not All Hopes Lost
Nonetheless, we have seen some efforts made in the past to eliminate the use of nuclear technology. there are several countries or nations who signed agreements to limit the use of such technology to reasonable rationales like nuclear energy generation which do not threaten human lives immediately. in 1975, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed by most of the countries like U.S and Russia and it was meant to restrict the use of nuclear powert to peaceful purposes only. it also included the disarmament of nuclear weapons and that the nations who signed the agreement are not supposed to launch them in favour of harming the lives of many. As such, there may be a chance were nuclear technology is completely out of use in the world if the nations were to abide to the agreements faithfully. However, there have been instances where the countries disregard the rules and arm the weapons against other countries. For example, the North Koreans opted itself out of the program and prepared its nuclear missiles to be fired at South Korea and the U.S. Such hostility showed the propensity of nuclear technology to be eradicated completely may be quite low.
Possibilities of Alternative Sources of Energy
On the bright side, some argued that other types of sustainable energy such as solar energy and geothermal energy are able to replace nuclear energy and thus fully replace it in the future. Therefore a nuclear-free world may still be possible. At present, solar energy is the most commonly used source of energy to make the automobile and other manufacturing processes function. The efficiency of using such renewable power sources have been improving over the years and is comparable to nuclear energy. There have been solar-powered cars which may run largely on solar energy for several months and it manifests the possibility that nuclear energy may not be required in the future.
However, it is important to note that nuclear energy remains the best choice for the government and producers to consider due to the significantly higher volumes of energy harnessed within a given period of time. It is also a more stable source of energy as compared to other alternatives.
All in all, nuclear technology's importance in the world still remained unparalleled and countries may still continue to rely on the use of it for various reasons. Hence, a nuclear-free world may still be an unrealistic aim until the science and technology improves by leaps and bounds.
© 2015 Wong Seng Wee