11Oct13 Meeting of Academic Conversations

Today we talked about if we should pursue nuclear energy as an answer to
global warming. First we watched the following clips:
TED debate
http://www.ted.com/talks/debate_does_the_world_need_nuclear_energy.html

Pandora's promise (pro nuclear film trailor)
http://pandoraspromise.com/

terra power explained, 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIfMmqKYC6w

fukishima
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=820sIi_-dY8

At the start of class we broke into groups of two to discuss the pros and
cons of nuclear energy and get an idea of how our partner felt about
nuclear energy. Then we gathered as one large group to present our partners
view as a listening and paraphrasing skills practice.
Some of the pros and cons of nuclear energy presented were:

Main arguments for nuclear energy:
cheap once built
much safer than use to be
uses little space
clean burning
many countries using it have not nor plan to make nuclear weapons
risks of overheating planet outweighs risk of nuclear incident
solar & wind energy are not constant, not reliable, not enough to power
energy for world
Need to get off fossil fuels 

Main arguments against nuclear/for renewable energy:
technology could be used to make nuclear weapons
takes too long to build, wind and solar are available now
plenty of solar and wind (statistics show we have enough)
nuclear accidents very dangerous (waste on trucks and trains could have
accident
terrorist target
research being conducted to put renewable energy in middle of ocean so
space won’t be a problem
Too expensive, wind and solar energy are free once installed
Technology is too new, don't know if really works 

Most of us were on fence about nuclear energy. The past disasters scare
everyone. Nuclear energy may be more reliable than sun and wind but it’s a
lot more dangerous. There is a definite worry about the technology being
used for weapons development or terrorist targets. We discussed it might be
better to put money into wind and solar energy because the technology could
greatly advance in the next few years and solve some of the current
problems, getting rid of the need for nuclear energy. We all agreed nuclear
power is better than coal and we need to get away from fossil fuels. Green
options are expensive and the government needs to give more breaks and
incentives for going green. Isabella and Kyle came up with the government
installing solar panels on everyone’s roof for free and letting the homes
use a percentage of the power generated. Jack thinks plastics are a more
pressing problem than fossil fuels. No one trusts governments to handle the
issues of global warming or tell the complete truth. Japan thought it’s
nuclear power plant was completely safe. Josh brought up the fact the
current US government can’t even decide on an action for healthcare, with
the current government shutdown, so how can we trust them to work
efficiently on a plan for global warming? Many governments are too tied to
oil companies to take action. Grassroots individuals need to take action. 

Everyone in our group is hopeful. We think it’s up to us to educate others
and take action. Jack and Walden inspired us with the films they have made
to stop the production of plastics and styrofoam. They’d like to think they
had something to do with getting the ban on plastic bags and styrofoam in
Alameda county. Nuclear energy may not be the answer to global warming but
people thinking about options and weighing the risks and benefits and
taking action are.

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