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 4. How much nuclear energy costs - general review
We have recently seen a steady increase in energy prices. For the ordinary Kowalski or Smith this expenditure in the household budget is becoming more and more noticeable. However, not only direct costs of energy that we consume at home are felt for our wallet. Currently the energy is needed for everything - it is needed to produce food, to illuminate the store where we buy this food, to illuminate roads and streets, to enable the use of various devices, to run electric cars so fashionable lately and for many, many other purposes. And all this comes with the costs we incur every day - directly or indirectly. So, the energy costs are very important for the economy and for the ordinary person. It is therefore important that they are as low as possible. But where to get such cheap energy? From conventional power plants, coal power plants, hydroelectric power plants, wind or from nuclear power plants? Or maybe solar panels? Which energy source is the most profitable? Which source produces the cheapest energy? Is there such a thing as "cheap energy"? And is it enough for all people on the Earth? What costs should be taken into account (costs of building the plant and putting it into operation, operating costs, operating costs) in order to objectively assess which energy source is the most profitable for a person and for the whole economy? If you want to find the answers to these questions, read the materials below.
1. Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/pros-and-cons-of-nuclear-energy.php [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
2. Various Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/Disadvantages_NuclearEnergy.php [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
3. Article about nuclear power costs – “Economics of Nuclear Power"
https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-aspects/economics-of-nuclear-power.aspx [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
4. Article on Reuters “Nuclear energy too slow, too expensive to save climate: report”
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-energy-nuclearpower/nuclear-energy-too-slow-too-expensive-to-save-climate-report-idUSKBN1W909J [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
5. Wikipedia about Economics of nuclear power plants
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_nuclear_power_plants [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
6. Wikipedia about List of nuclear reactors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_reactors [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 identify and understand the pros and cost of nuclear energy.
2. The learner will be able to identify the possible costs of functionality of nuclear power plan.
3. The learner will be able to provide the examples of nuclear power plants, which countries their use, in which scope, what are their benefits of using them.
Suggested teaching methods
> Information searching
> Information comparison
> Present arguments
> Apply source- and fact-checking to a set of resources
Suggested learning activities
> At the start of the session, introduce article #1 from the list of resources about the pros and cons of nuclear energy. Ask the learners to go through the article, note the metrics. Ask how they feel about it and what they think about the overall message it conveys.
> Next, ask the learners to read the article #3 about the costs of nuclear power plants. Ask how they feel about it and what they think about the overall message it conveys. What are their opinions about this aspect of nuclear energy and its costs.
> Introduce the concepts of fact-checking and source-checking. Introduce the Eggshell model. Ask the learners to attempt to verify the claims using online search.
> After establishing the facts and the reliability of the source, ask the learners to re-evaluate their opinions from the start of the session. Trigger a quick brainstorming of the author's motivation. Discuss the intended impact and real impact.
> Ask the learner to go to the video resource #1. Use the process just learned in the previous activity. Do source-checking and fact-checking on this item. Discuss findings. Discuss motives. Discuss reliability.
> Now move to the core topic of the case study – the article resources #3, #4 and #6. Introduce the main opposition to be investigated – proc and cons resulting from the use of nuclear power plant with the special impact of its costs.
> Divide the group in two. Let the learners find short definitions: first group – advantages of nuclear energy; second group – disadvantages. Research is done exclusively in official sites and documents – do request that learners use reliable source. A representative of each group writes 3 to 4 points of proc and cons using a flipchart/whiteboard.
> Working with the whole group, define the meaning and relevance of every opinion, belief, fact, expectation found during their group work. It is important to classify the information as a fact or belief/opinion/expectation. Each subgroup is searching for information about the idea they are responsible for.
> Explain, by examples, what are memes and why they are considered parody/irony. As a challenge, ask each group to find and be ready to illustrate their key findings with the help of memes. Ask the learners to use memes that they find on the internet. Use this opportunity to show them how meme-generators work.
> Ask the groups to re-evaluate their position and the arguments found in the provided resources and already used in the debate. Encourage self-reflection with focus on information/disinformation. In full group: enlist, explain, provide example of properties which may indicate disinformation or manipulation. Discuss dangers from disinformation arising specifically in the food context.
De Facto pillars
Frames and Framing: Explain the concept and ask the learners to reflect whether the debate around nuclear power plants and their costs can be regarded through frames. Attempt to define these frames. How much nuclear energy costs? It is more or less then the othet types of power plants?
Motivated Cognition: Explain what motivated cognition is and provide examples using the activity just completed (e.g. trusting particular sources, being influenced by...) – list or refer to a list with many possible instances of motivated cognition.
Additional online tools
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.