Time to Consider our Options to the Global Energy and Climate Crisis

Christian Mattheu

Human activity has been historically recorded to have caused environmental issues over the period of our existence, whether it be the decrease in a species populous to an energy crisis that could eventually cause our own atmosphere to burn up.

Global carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses, mass pollution and large-scale wildfires are all causes of these problems in our world as well as the many more not listed. But how do we solve this problem, and save our future generations?

This question has been debated among many scientists and even most of the world itself. We have many ideas on how to solve this growing issue but how to put it into action is an entirely different discussion. Many have proposed natural energies like wind and solar, some have proposed nuclear, and there are people who just don’t believe we have an issue to be discussing in the first place.

One concern that is causing our environmental issues is the major problem of CO2 commissions in our atmosphere. There is currently more of it floating around earth than there has been in the last 800,000 years (Greenhouse Gas Emissions).   Mr. Woodward, coordinator of Kenwood High’s Environmental Club, shares, “The oil and natural gas industry has very powerful lobbies in D.C and within it the individual states and our entire infrastructure is dependent upon fossil fuels; it’s not as a simple a light switch to other energy types. We would need a major shift in our economy. Everything is transported through vehicles that require the use of fossil fuels. If we stop putting carbon in the air, we save our planet.”

When it comes to the possibility of implementating of nuclear energy Mr. Woodward adds, “I fear that if it falls into the hands or an unstable government it’s not going to be maintained properly. I think it’s dangerous, but it may be necessary.”

Kenwood’s INT Physics and Chemistry teacher,  Mr. Rahman, sees the potentional advantages of nuclear implementation. “Nuclear power has a lot of advantages. Those who believe that global warming is directly due to human activity, would argue that a major advantage of nuclear power is that it does not produce greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and methane. It can also be a very steady and consistent source of energy. Nuclear power plants are relatively cheap to run once the infrastructure has been put into place. From a practical standpoint, I think the main problem with nuclear power is probably how expensive it is to implement, not how expensive it is to run.  In other words, nuclear power plants are very expensive to even build in the first place.  So, I think what those in charge would have to do (and probably are already doing, somewhere) is really perform an in-depth cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the extremely high costs of building more nuclear power infrastructure would be worth it.”

If nuclear isn’t an option what about the possibility of  Thorium. Thorium (Th) is found in nature; it is a slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts within most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more common than uranium. Soil contains an average of around 6 parts per million of thorium (Nuclear Essentials).

Thorium is very insoluble, which is why it is plentiful in sands but not in seawater, which is a near opposite to uranium.  During the extraction process of this element, it is in a very stable state since it can’t fully be activated without the use of Plutonium. On the other hand, Uranium is prone to release cancer inducing radon gas which is highly dangerous and requires heavy ventilation in these mines to prevent casualties of the workers.

The cost factor must be applied when discussing an economy’s complete shift in its energy producer. Since thorium has a higher concentration in its ore, it means less work will be required in order to produce the same amount of raw material we would get out of uranium ore. Uranium is contained with two isotopes, U-238 (99%) and U-235 (1%) this means it requires an enrichment process in order to up the concentration of the material (Nuclear Essentials).

This is a costly process. Our infrastructure and overall economy is generally centered around the use of fossil fuels, but with Thorium a singular metric ton of it would be equivalent to 35 tons of uranium in terms of energy production. This is also equivalent to 4 million tons of coal total (Nuclear Essentials). Think about the amount of potential something like that has.

The central advantage of Thorium as a nuclear fuel is its unique ability to be sustainably consumed in a thermal-spectrum reactor, maximizing the production of energy while minimizing the production of wastes. This is a major benefit for our planet’s health as well.

America is currently making up around 4% of the world’s population total yet emitting 25% of all carbon pollution in the air by fossil fuel burning (Greenhouse Gas Emissions). This is by far the largest share by any country’s emission rate. The earth is facing a rising issue as its rate increases by the day. Americans as well as the world should consider the seriousness of this problem and put a larger priority into this matter so something can evidently be done about it before time runs out.

Scientists have concluded the possibility of reversing this entirely is out of the question, but we can still work together to stunt the increase and slow the damage done.



“Green House Gas Emissions”. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 27 July 2021. Web. Accessed 1 November 2021.

“Nuclear Essentials”. World Nuclear Association. 2016-2021. Web Accessed 1 November 2021.