The debate over the topic “Does the world need nuclear energy?” was the first deliberation ever held on TED. Stewart Brand, a well-known environmentalist, came with a support of the “clean and safe” nuclear energy, while Mark Z. Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineer, came with a strong resistance to the “life-threatening” nuclear energy. The debaters were given six minutes each to give a brief overview of their ideas along with some of the statistical data and examples to support their stances.
Stewart Brand opened his argument with a catchy saying, “With Climate, those who know the most are the most worried. With nuclear, those who know the most are the least worried,” winning over me with its strong rhythm and subtle meaning. He then increased the credibility of his argument by referring to the book of a famous climatologist who holds the exact same notion. However, the brief description of this book was written in his power point slides instead of being explained explicitly. Therefore, I was left totally lost about what the book is all about and how that book could support his argument. After that, he addressed the need for electricity, accompanied by several dangers of coal industry and the disadvantages of wind and solar energy. His comparison of lifetime nuclear waste with a heavy coke can, and one-day coal waste with the hell of carbon dioxide managed to create an image in the audiences’ mind, convincing them that the nuclear energy is really clean and useful.
On the other side, Mark Z. Jacobson, started his argument with a strong and directly to the point saying, “Nuclear energy emits more carbon dioxide, produces more air pollutants, brings about higher mortality, and creates nuclear weapon proliferation.” Then, he explained every point he made in a knowledgeable and powerful manner. The graphs of carbon dioxide emission and death rate were displayed to account for the drawback of nuclear energy and the benefits of wind energy simultaneously. He debunked Stewart Brand’s previous argument about the impracticability of wind energy completely with several opposing evidences, and boldly proclaimed his belief in this promising renewable energy. At the end, Mark showed three pairs of photos comparing the results of wind energy and nuclear energy, last of which winning a big round of applause and acclamation from the audiences was the pictures of clear, blue sky from wind energy and that of disruptive, uncertain future from nuclear energy.
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