Michael Pollan has written “The word “sustainability” has gotten such a workout lately that the whole concept is in danger of floating away on a sea of inoffensiveness. Everybody, it seems, is for it whatever it means.”
So what does sustainability mean to you - do you think of solar panels or wind power? Buying food locally? The term is used in relation to environmental management, science, law, consumerism etc. and in so many different contexts, it can be confusing. But essentially sustainability is about sustaining the environment for future generations through forward thinking strategies to solve environmental challenges. It involves energy conservation, clean and green energy, technology that protects the environment, green building, and socially responsible organizations and employers.
But if you would like to work in some aspect of sustainability, how do you navigate your way through this confusing field and find your own path. Where would you start?
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What do you think about expanding the use of nuclear energy in California? Would you support the development of a new nuclear power plant in our state?
Energy sources fit into three main buckets--fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), renewable (e.g. wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc.) and nuclear. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by fossil fuels, there is movement toward increasing energy production from alternative sources. So, what about nuclear?
Nuclear energy is derived from the splitting of uranium atoms. In a nuclear reaction, a particle called a neutron hits the nucleus of a uranium atom. This reaction, called fission, breaks the nucleus in two, releasing more neutrons and a lot of heat. This heat can be used to create steam which turns a turbine to generate electricity. The neutrons collide with more uranium atoms, producing a chain reaction, so the process continues. Nuclear fission is very efficient, producing a lot more energy per unit weight than fossil fuel alternatives, with far fewer greenhouse emissions.