Coal provides about 78% of Australia's electricity. It is also the main source for carbon dioxide emissions from electricity and heat production. Coal fires produce pollutants into the atmosphere; mainly they are the gases carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. These cause acid rain and lead to the greenhouse effect. Australia is practically the only developed country not using electricity from nuclear energy.
If Australia was to replace its coal-fired plants with gas-fired plants, there would be a reduction of about 25-30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being produced, but if this was to be replaced by around six nuclear reactors, there would be a reduction of 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Every 22 tonnes of uranium used saves the emission of one million tonnes of carbon dioxide relative to coal. Although nuclear power plants give out less carbon dioxide, it produces other pollution such as radiation and radioactive substances, which must be contained.
Australia should reduce its use of coal and become more dependent on nuclear energy because Australia now, is contributing to the greenhouse which is thought to be running global warming. Carbon dioxide levels are now 27% higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years and if it keeps rising it will possibly result in higher temperatures and rising sea levels.
Although the use of nuclear energy is controversial because of the risks andthe problem of storing radioactive waste for many years ahead, the possibility for severe radioactive contamination by accident or sabotage, and the possibility that its use in some countries could lead to the production of nuclear weapons. Many people believe that these risks are small and can be reduced by the technology in the new reactors. They insist that the safety record is already good when compared to other...