The world is in need of an alternative energy source. Fusion should be that alternative.
The world currently relies a great deal on oil for its energy needs. This is not only for the petrol in our cars, which is bad enough, but also to drive the turbines that produce our electricity. The process of extraction scars our environment but spills cost billions in dollars and countless deaths in our wilderness.
Coal and oil burning power stations are also a major contributor to CO2 emissions. This is seen as the major contributing factor in damage to the atmosphere, which in turn raises the world’s temperature. Increases in temperature have been linked to the increase in extreme weather events such as flooding. In short, our current energy needs and methods are literally costing the Earth.
Nuclear Fission, the more popular sister to fusion, is nervously proffered as an alternative to fossil fuels. Energy is plentiful from Nuclear reactors and it does not contribute to greenhouse gases. However, Fission is fuelled with neutron based material, which in turns creates radioactive waste. The half-life of such waste is recorded in the tens of thousands of years. It would also mean that dangerous plutonium mines could be shut once and for all. These mines are not just an environmental disaster ready to happen but a constant threat to world security.
With fission comes the danger of a chain reaction that could lead to a breach in containment and leakage of radioactive material into the atmosphere, the sea and into the land. This material leads to large swathes of land being uninhabitable and areas of the sea lost as a resource for food. Japan and Russia have experienced large scale meltdowns in most of our living memories and it is still the plot line for top Hollywood films, particularly with the advent of the term “dirty bomb,” the stuff of all our nightmares.
Fracking is the a relatively new form of mining for resources in difficult to reach cracks and fissures deep underground. The process of fracking involves the creation of small scale explosions that release the gases stored and then allows for collection. Although the scarring to the landscape is not as prominent as with traditional mining techniques, the concern of environmentalists relates to pollution of the water table and the effect on the stability of the land. Many areas that have experienced fracking have also experienced tremors similar to earthquakes.
It’s not just that fusion will create a cheap, clean energy resource that will replace costlier methods, it is that fusion can provide the energy need to fuel planetary recovery. Areas of the Middle East could benefit from huge desalination plants, which could harvest water from the oceans and fertilise barren areas of land. Not only would this reclaim land for human use but the increase foliage would work to counter the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere.
It is also proposed that fusion power could be used to fuel artificial trees. The role of these trees would be to breathe in CO2 and therefore reduce the chances of disastrous and irreversible climate change.