Essay Sample on Engineering Ethics with a Focus on Nuclear Energy

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  966 Words
Date:  2022-09-07


Nuclear energy is one of the engineering innovations having a lot of debates on ethical issues in the world today. Problems of the environment, economy, safety, security, and public health have a connection with nuclear energy ethics. The hot debate on nuclear power comes from the pros and cons. Nuclear energy supporters argue based on reliability, cost and sustainability, while those in opposition base on its detrimental effects. The government has proposed solutions in harmonizing the matter on the use of nuclear energy, but the aspect of ethical considerations has stood out as the main point of disagreement. An understanding of ethical issues in debating the pros and cons of nuclear energy is the aim of this essay.

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Nuclear Energy Ethics Based on its Pros

The consideration of nuclear energy development and use as ethical is because of its advantages. The first reason as for why atomic energy is ethically correct is because it has a low emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Nuclear energy leads to low pollution to the environment because it emits fewer GHGs unlike the use of fossil fuels. Atomic power utilization reduces the emission of GHS like methane, thus reducing the depletion of the ozone layer (Suna & Resch, 2016). Therefore, the use of nuclear energy is ethical because it produces fewer amounts of GHGs.

The other advantage of using nuclear energy is its contribution to global economic growth, thus ethical. Compared to other energy sources like the use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy use has a low operation. Power from nuclear energy is inexpensive because of low uranium utilization to produce electricity (Taebi & Roeser, 2015). Though the cost of establishing atomic energy plants is high, the operation cost is low leading to a long-term electricity production that is cheap. Since nuclear energy is cheap concerning operation costs, it contributes to global economic growth. As a result, the utilization of atomic energy is ethical as it leads to the growth of the economy.

Nuclear energy also has an advantage of reliability because it does not rely on weather conditions. Unlike other energy sources like wind and solar that depend on the weather conditions, nuclear energy is reliable. Using an energy production system that is reliable is considered ethical. Nuclear energy production has less disruption caused by weather, resulting in continual energy utilization. Persistence supply of atomic energy allows storage of power for use in different sectors of the economy with minimal interruptions (Thomas & Mayi, 2017). Since nuclear power is reliable, its development and utilization are ethical.

Nuclear Energy Ethics Based on its Cons

The development and use of nuclear power are unethical because of the underlying cons. The first reason why nuclear power is unethical is of its detrimental effect on people's health. Mining and processing of uranium cause air pollution that lead to respiratory diseases to people living near nuclear power plants. Moreover, the exposure of radioactive wastes to people and the atmosphere leads to other health problems like cancer (Taebi & Roeser, 2015). As a result, nuclear energy is unethical because it leads to detrimental effects on the environment as well as causes health risks to people.

Secondly, the use of nuclear energy has the limitation of causing atomic accidents that affect people's health and economy. The likelihood of nuclear accidents renders the production and use of nuclear power unethical. Nuclear energy has caused dangerous nuclear accidents that have led to the loss of lives, mutations, and persistent radiation. For instance, the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine that occurred in 1986 due to a nuclear accident led to the spread of radiations whose effect on people's health and economy has remained irreversible (Xiang & Zhu, 2011). Consequently, atomic energy utilization is unethical as it leads to accidents that affect ecology and cause cancer as well.

Apart from causing adverse effects on the environment and dangerous accidents, nuclear energy utilization is unethical because it has become a target for wars. Militants can use nuclear power to make weapons with the aim of targeting nations, a situation that can lead to deaths through terrorism. The use of atomic energy to manufacture weapons put the world at the danger of wars and attacks through terrorism (Suna & Resch, 2016). Nuclear power poses insecurity to humanity by the use of atomic weapons in terror attacks. So, nuclear energy use is unethical as it causes danger to humankind when immense power is used to make weapons.


Conclusively, from the discussion above it is evident that nuclear energy is both ethical and unethical. As per the engineering ethics, innovations should protect the environment. Since nuclear energy is environmentally friendly, it is ethical. The contribution to global economic growth also shows that nuclear energy is ethical as there is a need for innovations that contribute to world economic status. Also, reliability is important in energy production due to the need for a continuous supply of electricity, and since nuclear power supplies power continuously, it is ethical. Comparatively, from the engineering ethics perspective, nuclear energy is unethical. First, engineering ethics requires technological solutions that improve health, but nuclear power is unethical because it is detrimental to people's health. Besides, innovation should improve security, but the use of nuclear power to make weapons leads to insecurity through terrorisms. Therefore, an understanding of engineering ethics will lead to an agreement on the debate about nuclear energy.


Suna, D., & Resch, G. (2016). Is nuclear economical in comparison to renewables?. Energy Policy, 98, 199-209. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2016.08.023

Taebi, B., & Roeser, S. (Eds.). (2015). The Ethics of Nuclear Energy. Cambridge University Press.

Thomas, P., & Mayi, J. (2017). Coping after a big nuclear accident. Process Safety And Environmental Protection, 112, 1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.psep.2017.09.013

Xiang, H., & Zhu, Y. (2011). The Ethics Issues of Nuclear Energy: Hard Lessons Learned from Chernobyl and Fukushima. Online Journal Of Health Ethics, 7. doi: 10.18785/ojhe.0702.06

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