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It remains to be seen whether the new ventures of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates will strike a chord and benefit mankind. The projects are aimed to address the issues of climate change and high reliance on fossil fuels, however they are subjected to various criticisms.
- Jeff Bezoes blasted into space in his private capsule on 21st July, while Big Gates is eager to launch his own fast breeder nuclear reactor.
- Both of them characterized their initiatives as essentially significant for environmental protection and tackling climate change.
About the Gates Plan:
- TerraPower (the nuclear company founded by Mr. Gates) has just announced an agreement with private funders and the State of Wyoming, U.S. The agreement involves the establishment of its Natrium fast reactor demonstration project in the state of Wyoming.
- The project is carried out on the belief that small, factory-built, modular reactors will be cheaper and safer.
Rationale behind the initiatives:
- Space exploration will devise ways for shifting all heavy industries and polluting industries into space. This would help in keeping the earth neat and clean.
- The development of Nuclear reactors will enhance clean energy production, thereby decreasing reliance on fossil fuels.
- Nuclear energy will also help in meeting the growing energy demands across the world.
- It will revive America’s nuclear industry and enable the United States to compete in an international market now dominated by China and Russia.
- Another benefit envisaged is that fast breeder reactors will provide a solid nuclear industrial base for meeting U.S. military nuclear requirements.
- The companies chasing space tourism dollars have drawn criticism for catering to the rich while so many are struggling amid the pandemic.
- In the case of Nuclear Reactors, there is a concern over their safety. The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan is a testimony to the havoc that can be created by a nuclear leak.
- Pursuant to this, the nuclear industry came to a standstill except in Russia, China, and India. However, a revival was seen with global warming becoming ever more apparent.
- The commercial nuclear supply can lead to the proliferation of Nuclear weapons. The fast breeder reactors have a risk of turning inert uranium into plutonium and then using the plutonium as fuel. However, plutonium is a nuclear explosive that can be used for developing a bomb.
- The recent reports that China is building two more fast reactors have immediately provoked international concerns about China’s possible weapons plutonium production.
- The opponents of TerraPower believe that China will be encouraged in its efforts to develop fast breeder reactors and may even want to buy them from Mr. Gates.
- Furthermore, in some major markets, nuclear power lacks a favorable policy and financing framework that recognize its contributions to climate change mitigation and sustainable development.
- Without such a framework, nuclear power may struggle to deliver on its full potential, even as the world remains as dependent on fossil fuels as it was three decades ago.