Social Sustainability Through Nuclear Energy And Waste Disposal Essay

¶ … Meta-Analysis of Nuclear Energy and Waste Disposal in Social Sustainability A Dissertation Presented using the Meta-Analysis Technique

Komi Emmanuel Fiagbe Gbedegan

Christina Anastasia PH-D, Chair

[Committee Name], [Degree], Committee Member

[Committee Name], [Degree], Committee Member

Date Approved

Komi Emmanuel Fiagbe Gbedegan, 2016

This research proposal explores the link between public perceptions of nuclear power, how those perceptions are formed, and what influence those opinions have on energy policy. These issues are important in light of two realities. First, nuclear energy is declining in its share of global energy. Second, nuclear energy offers what might well be the best solution to climate change. Given the threat posed by climate change, greater understanding of why nuclear is decreasing rather than increasing is the purpose of this proposed study. This Research proposal seeks to look at some of the issues facing nuclear power, and how it can overcome these issues to increase share going forward. The research will utilize meta-analysis technique to examine the use of nuclear energy and waste disposal in social sustainability.

Add a Dedication, if desired [Add Acknowledgements]

Table of Contents

Abstract ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgements iv

Table of Contents v

List of Tables viii

List of Figures vii

Chapter One: Introduction 1

Topic Overview 7

Problem Statement 8

Purpose Statement 10

Social Dimension in Nuclear Energy 3

Political Dimension in Nuclear Energy 4

Economic Dimension in Nuclear Energy 6

Research Objectives 7

Hypothesis 9

Hypothesis #1 9

Hypothesis #2 10

Hypothesis#3 11

Hypothesis #4 11

Theoretical Perspectives 12

Assumptions and Biases 14

Significance of the Study 16

Delimitation 17

Limitations 18

Definition of Key Terms 19

General Overview of the Research Design 20

Summary of Chapter One 21

Organization of the Study 22

Chapter Two: Literature Review 23

Hypothesis #1: Public perceptions of nuclear energy are largely driven by disasters. 24

Hypothesis #2: Public perceptions can influence political decision-making 28

Hypothesis #3: Unresolved technical issues contribute to policy 30

Hypothesis #4 Nuclear energy is not viewed as a viable solution to climate change 34

Chapter Three: Methodology 41

Research Traditions 41

Research Questions and Hypotheses 44

Research Design 47

Validity 48

Reliability 48

Ethical Issues in the Research 49

Summary of Chapter Three 99

List of Figures

[Add List of Figures here]

viii

Chapter One: Introduction

Overview

Nuclear energy was first harnessed for power in 1954, at the Obninsk scientific city some 110km outside of Moscow (Josephson, 2000, p.2). At the time, nuclear power was viewed as the energy of the future. Unharnessing the power of the atom, it was thought, was to provide a stable, reliable source of energy for the future. Even at the time, it was known that fossil fuels were not going to sustainable as an energy source. The use of atomic weapons at the end of the Second World War highlighted the value of harnessing the atom -- nuclear energy was essential in war, and to meet civilian energy needs. The most technologically advanced societies of that age, the U.S. and USSR, were the leaders in the development of nuclear technology, but they were soon joined by a number of other nations.

Nuclear energy can be described as the energy in the core or nucleus of an atom, which is a small unit that contributes to all matter in the universe. Nuclear energy is derived from nuclear reactions, which are used to produce heat that is most commonly used in steam turbines to generate electricity, especially in a nuclear power station. According to Remo (2015), nuclear energy, which is utilized in weapons and for generating electricity, has the probability of destroying life and saving lives on Earth (p.38). As a result, the likelihood of effective use of nuclear energy to save lives as well as for producing a catastrophic thermonuclear war on Earth has contributed to a huge debate and controversy relating to nuclear energy.

Today, nuclear energy provides for roughly 10% of the world's energy needs. There are reactors in 31 countries, for a total of 427 reactors as of 2013 (Schneider et al., 2013). That is seventeen fewer reactors than there were in 2002, and the installed capacity of the industry is at 364 GWe, down from 375 GWe in 2002. Thus, the nuclear power industry is in decline. While some of this can be attributed to the Fukushima disaster that took some of Japan's capacity offline, the fact that nuclear energy is not growing is somewhat perplexing. Since 2002, the world's collective knowledge of climate change has increased substantially. Many nations around the world made commitments...

...

Total capacity has declined as noted above, and given that overall energy production capacity has likely increased in this period, the market share for nuclear power has declined significantly in this period. Three-quarters of the decline came from Japan, but the top five other nuclear power generators also decreased their output as well (Schneider et al., 2013). In 1993, nuclear power peaked at 17% of total global energy production but now sits at 10% (Ibid, p.7). With no major new build programs, the average age of the world's nuclear reactors is at 28 years, with over 190 units having run for over 30 years, and 44 units having run for over 40 years (Ibid, p.7). There is some new construction, in fourteen countries, with one (the UAE) being a new member of the nuclear power club. There have been many delays that have stalled progress in prospective new members to the nuclear power club, comprised largely of developing world nations (Ibid, p.7).
Problem Statement

There are a number of different issues that need to be examined to determine the future of nuclear power. First, there are the social and political dimensions. So many would-be nuclear powers have had trouble getting their reactors built, Bangladesh, Belarus, Jordan, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam among them (Schneider, et al., p.7). In established nuclear power countries, there is a lack of investment in adding new capacity. Where there is new construction, it is to replace aging facilities.

Secondly, nuclear power policy is in the political domain and in many countries public sentiment affects the political domain. So there are issues raised with respect to the perceptions that public and governments have and whether or not those perceptions are responsible for the decline of nuclear power. Two issues, in particular, are whether disasters such as Fukushima impact public policy and whether climate change and the need to transition away from fossil fuels is helping to change public perceptions about nuclear power, and its role in the power mix of a given nation (Sovacool, n.d.).

The third issue that has risen in the course of researching the subject is the handling of nuclear waste. Public perception is not all that relevant to this issue -- while there are no studies on the subject, it seems reasonable to conclude that few members of the general public understand the science behind the generation and handling of nuclear waste. But public policy is often informed by the science, and the disposal of nuclear waste remains an emerging field, where scientists are still learning. There are many challenges associated with handling nuclear waste, and these may be playing a role in the diminishing importance of nuclear power around the world (Dunlap, Kraft & Rosa, 2013)

The opportunity presented by the current situation is to determine what the factors are that are constraining the growth of the nuclear power industry. Once these factors are understood, policymakers can have a better sense of how to work around these challenges. There remain a lot of compelling arguments in favor of nuclear power, for its efficiency, for its ability to mitigate the impacts of climate change and even for its safety (Sailor et al., 2000). In order to restore growth to the industry, and the promise of atomic energy, in general, the issues that have befallen nuclear power in recent years will need to be better understood.

The general problem is that nuclear energy has been declining in its share in the global energy resource. The decline in the share of nuclear energy has been influenced by various factors including the political, social, and economic dimensions relating to nuclear power. These varying dimensions have in turn generated several issues that face nuclear power and played a major role in shaping public perception on this source of energy. Public perceptions have in turn had considerable impacts on energy policy and affected the development and growth of nuclear power as a major source of energy (Schwarz & Cochran, 2012).

The specific problem is that nuclear power is not used as a major source of energy despite its potential to help in lessening global climate change or global warming. Global climate change or global warming is brought by burning of fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gasses into the Earth's atmosphere. These factors that contribute to the problem of global warming are in turn brought by the current sources of energy. As the problem of global climate change continues to escalate due to the current sources of energy, it is surprising that nuclear power has not been considered as an alternative energy source that could help deal with this problem (Schwarz & Cochran, 2012). In essence, a greater understanding of…

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