The world’s population is constantly on the rise, and in the same manner, people are constantly craving for better standards of living. The constantly increasing world population coupled with the ever increasing standard of living has led to an increased demand for energy, and to curb this seemingly insatiable appetite for energy, efforts are in place to source for reliable, sustainable and large sources of energy. Several sources of energy are being explored to compliment the old methods like hydroelectric power; notably, hydroelectric power has for a long time been considered a pertinent source of energy due to its clean and renewable nature. The efforts to devise new sources of energy has led to the identification to some sources of energy which, besides promising the world a lot of energy to help satisfy the mighty demand for energy, also promise the world an endless trail of negative consequences. Even as hydroelectric power continues to dominate as the one of the world’s primary sources of energy (perhaps only second to fossil fuel), empirical research findings give insight to some negative ramifications that can be tied to this source of energy. In this regard, a comparison for the negative ramifications attached to hydroelectric power alongside the possible negative consequences of developing nuclear power (a controversial alternative to fossil fuels) emerges as a very important topic of discussion, which can be validated by an outlook of some the world’s energy related disasters such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 20th century Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster and Chernobyl nuclear meltdown
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster was as a result of a massive Japanese earthquake in Northeastern Japan that occurred on 11th March 2011 (Buck, Upton & Folger, 2011). The earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused a meltdown several nuclear reactors at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant leading to more than 30 000 fatalities. As Scheffran (2012) contends, the huge number of fatalities recorded following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster has since rendered it the largest industrial catastrophe in the world. The fatalities were reportedly caused by harmful radiations released into the air following the meltdown.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster is only comparable to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1986 that occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant situated in Ukraine following a fire breakdown in one of the Chernobyl plant reactors that was caused by a larger spike whose causation has since been reported to have emanated from an emergency shutdown attempt to avert the effects of a power surge (Lüsted, 2011). Even though the exact number of fatalities suffered during the disaster is not clearly known, the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown still stand as one of the greatest nuclear accidents in the world owing to its effects.
Negative Ramification of Hydroelectric power against the consequences of Nuclear Power
Even though there is no any major accident to hydroelectric power that has occurred in the world, related there some of the negative ramifications associated with hydroelectric power. Firstly, the setting up of a hydroelectric power station requires a high upfront investment as well as a long term planning and long term agreements (Ferrier & Jenkins, 2009). Professedly, the cost of setting up a hydroelectric power plant is overly high since the dams to hold the water must be built at high standards to be able to hold massive amounts of water hence they are meant to hold. Besides, since the construction of the dam might at times mean blocking the progress of a river one county, issues might arise between the countries that depend on the river that country intending to construction the hydroelectric power station. This explains why the construction of the station might involve a lot planning and agreements.
Additionally, hydroelectric power option may be involve resettlement besides impeding navigation in rivers (Ferrier & Jenkins, 2009). One a dam has been constructed across a river, navigation of the river by people can no longer be possible. In the same manner, the dam restricts fish migration due to the high-walled dams constructed across the river. Ideally, the effects of such though hard to quantify are inherently far reaching. In this light, Ferrier & Jenkins (2009) contends that most of the effects of contrasting a hydroelectric power plant are related changes in the ecosystem. Other possible effects of such plants include; outbreaks of water borne diseases, modifications in land use, and inundation of terrestrial habitat.
A keen look at the effects on hydroelectric power option yields that most of the disadvantages associated with hydroelectric power option also apply to nuclear power generation. Just like hydroelectric power option, nuclear power generation requires a high upfront investment particularly due to the grave danger that nuclear plants pose to the environment and people. Notwithstanding, the plants also interfere with movements of people and in most cases result in resettlement of people. However, the negative consequences this otherwise great source energy extends to some incalculable consequences that serve to challenge the admissibility of nuclear energy as a source of energy to supplement other sources of energy. These consequences encompass; high risk of cancer for instance thyroid cancer as was witnessed after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, genetic damage leading to amoralities in births (which has since been the case in both of the two historic nuclear disasters). Admittedly, even as the most countries are embracing nuclear powers as an alternative to fossil fuel, its consequences are far still too many and grievous compare to the negative ramifications of hydroelectric power.
Buck, E. H., Upton, H. F., & Folger, P. (2011). Effects of radiation from Fukushima Daiichi on the U.S. marine environment. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
Ferrier, R. C., & Jenkins, A. (2009). Handbook of catchment management. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Lüsted, M. A. (2011). The Chernobyl Disaster. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub.
Scheffran, J. (2012). Climate Change, Human Security and Violent Conflict: Challenges for Societal Stability. Berlin: Springer.