Case study: The Power of the Atom
Atom not so scary? What are the prospects and opportunities for the development of nuclear energy in the world in the face of climate change? Nuclear power plants, as a way of generating electricity, began to rapidly lose their popularity after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The failure of the power plant reactor in Japan's Fukushima (2011) completed the work and eventually plunged nuclear power. However, the world leaders, as well as the public opinion itself, in countries where nuclear power plants play an important role are divided on this issue. Nuclear power plants raise many concerns. Their action and the threat associated with failures have even become mythical, and around the topic arose a lot of so-called fake news, which do not favor this technology, because they create a climate of fear, threat and social resistance.
Recommended for: secondary schools 16+, university students, adult learners
Tags: nuclear energy, environment safety, cost of energy, sustainable energy
Building block 1. Do nuclear power plants affect the environment?
This building block analyses a very popular debate on the impact of nuclear power plants on the environment. The environment we live in for decades has been regularly polluted by human activity - it began with the industrial revolution in England in the 18th century, and then throughout Europe, and in the second half of the 20th century, spread almost all over the world. In recent years, the actions of governments of many countries and various organizations are aimed at fixing this state of affairs. Various decisions and undertakings are made to reduce environmental pollution and reduce the emission of adverse substances from various areas of the economy, industry and everyday life of people. In the case of nuclear power plants, no greenhouse gases are produced, no pollutants are released into the atmosphere, and the waste generated during energy production is stored in safe places and under strict control. Nuclear power plants do not emit harmful dust, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, greenhouse gases or heavy metals. But maybe they produce other harmful substances that adversely affect the environment? And what about the fact that you can often see large clouds of smoke rising from the chimneys of nuclear power plants? Is this not harmful to the environment? Completing this block will help students discover facts, understand the factors that influence their opinions, and make an informed assessment for themselves.
1. Wikipedia description about environmental impact of nuclear power
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_nuclear_power [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
2. Article about "How Does Nuclear Energy Affect the Environment?"
https://sciencing.com/nuclear-energy-affect-environment-4566966.html [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
3. Report about Environmental impacts of nuclear power
https://www.fortum.com/about-us/our-company/our-energy-production/our-power-plants/loviisa-nuclear-power-plant/environmental-impacts-nuclear-power [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
4. Article about environmental impact of nuclear power generation
https://www.thegreenage.co.uk/effects-of-nuclear-power/ [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
5. Pros and Cons of current issues – “Is Nuclear Power Safe for Humans and the Environment?”
https://alternativeenergy.procon.org/questions/is-nuclear-power-safe-for-humans-and-the-environment/ [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
6. Nuclear for climate declaration from Nice, France, 2015
https://www.world-nuclear.org/uploadedFiles/org/Features/Climate_Change/declaration.pdf [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
1. ”Pro-Nuclear Power …”
https://nuclearstreet.com/pro_nuclear_power_blogs/b [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
2. „Need to talk about nuclear energy”
https://about.bnef.com/blog/liebreich-need-talk-nuclear-power/ [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
The learning outcomes represent the competences which learners are expected to develop as a result of the training intervention:
1. The learner will be able to explain the what is nuclear energy and term nuclear power plants.
2. The learner will be able to identify environmental impact of nuclear power.
3. The learner will be able to recognize the nuclear power plant safety systems.
4. The learner will be aware of, and be able to list several examples how does nuclear energy affect the environment.
Suggested teaching methods
> Information searching
> Information comparison
> Present arguments
> Pro/con method
> Present findings
Suggested learning activities
> Icebreaker: List types of energy sources that you know.
> Internet search for the definition of nuclear energy and nuclear power plants and present them to the class.
> Discussion which types of energy sources is safety for the environments and which are not. List the examples.
> Discussion: If nuclear energy is good for human? (using meme #1)
> Discussion: Nuclear energy is clean and safe? (using meme #2)
> Internet search for different information about nuclear energy and nuclear power plants and their impact on the environment.
> Division classroom into 3 groups; 1st group defend positive affects, 2nd group defends negative affects of nuclear energy and nuclear power plants, 3rd group listens their arguments and select (vote) the winner
> Reading articles #2 and #5
> Watching video #1
> Discussion about opposing opinions presented in resources above.
> Learning about motivation for making and propagating dis- and misinformation .
> Evaluation, summarizing conclusions.
De Facto pillars
Frames and Framing: Discussion if nuclear energy has more or less harmful effect on the environment than other commonly used energy sources. Why we can expect that the nuclear power plant has affects the environment? What frames can be characteristic for this?
Motivated Cognition: Debate which researchers and from which universities and/or non-profit organizations are for or against the nuclear energy and nuclear power plants.
You have selected a topic from the Disinformation Games area. Please be advised that this area hosts, or links to, resources that contain misinformation or disinformation. The presence of such materials is to assist in developing and sustaining skills for navigating and detecting disinformation. To achieve this goal – and with clear intent – none of the materials are explicitly marked as true or not true.