How does one keep a society safe at a national level?
In the past, city-states would build walls to protect the population. As technologies advanced, nations rushed to develop deadlier weapons than their enemies so that the threat of loss was greater than the reward of taking territory.
Those technologies have now developed into nuclear weapons. The destructive power of a nuclear weapon is just one threat to consider. The radioactive fallout from such a weapon can cause long-term consequences for a population that was close to the explosion. Radiated soil, weapon debris, and radioactive particles falling from the sky are all threats that must be taken seriously, which means a nation with nuclear weapons provides a great threat to a potential invader.
If enough nuclear weapons are launched and allowed to detonate, however, then life as we know it on our planet will cease to exist. Any survivors would be forced to endure unthinkable conditions.
Here are the essential pros and cons of nuclear weapons to consider.
The Pros of Nuclear Weapons
1. It is a deterrent for starting a major conflict.
Only a handful of nations are armed with nuclear weapons. The US and Russia have the most weapons, but France, China, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan all have more than 100 weapons. The presence of these weapons and their immense destructive capabilities is a major deterrent for starting a major conflict, like the two world wars that are fought in the first half of the 20th century. Even when both nations have nuclear weapons, their mutually assured destruction is enough to cause diplomacy to rule the day.
2. It reinforces national borders.
Our society is becoming ever-more global. Because of the internet, communications improvements, and other technological advances, we can talk with anyone, anywhere, with a simple data connection. New transportation technologies are in development that can provide long-distance transportation at speeds which were unthinkable just a generation ago. By reinforcing national borders, a global society of cooperation can be built through negotiation and diplomacy instead of warfare.
3. It changes the power and status of a nation.
Countries with nuclear weapons are treated different on the global stage than countries without those weapons. North Korea may only have a dozen or so nuclear weapons at best estimate, but their demands are taken with an extra level of seriousness and scrutiny because they have developed rudimentary nuclear weapon technology. Because there is a desire to avoid such a devastating conflict, most nations with nuclear weapons can generally get what they want on-demand.
4. They can be fired without a direct threat to personnel.
The nuclear weapons dropped in Japan were carried by bombers, staffed with a flight crew. Rockets can be fired remotely from stations and intercontinental ballistic technologies can let someone manage the weapon from thousands of miles away. Nuclear weapons do not require a battlefield presence in the same way a conventional weapon may require.
5. Nuclear weapons can be positioned in a variety of locations.
Submarines and naval craft can be outfitted with nuclear weapons so that they can be fired from any ocean-based location on the planet. Storage silos, buried underground, can fire ICBM-outfitted nuclear weapons. They can be fired from remote trucks, put into aircraft missiles, or still be dropped by bombers like they were in the 1940s. The versatility of positioning that a nuclear weapon offers is quite profound.
6. They provide the foundations for other technologies.
The technologies that have helped to create nuclear weapons have fostered other technologies that have benefited society in many ways. Nuclear power provides a relatively clean source of energy that is used to power hundreds of thousands of homes around the world. Nuclear reactors have been used to build naval vessels. Many types of nuclear-powered propulsion have been proposed for future spacecraft.
7. It is a highly reliable technology.
As a power source, nuclear energy can run uninterrupted for more than a year without disruption, even during difficult weather conditions. The refinement of a nuclear weapon is similar to this advantage. Once installed, the delivery platform reliability of the weapon is strong. Even if the warheads are not modernized, the surety of the weapon and its readiness make it a consistent threat that cannot be ignored.
The Cons of Nuclear Weapons
1. They have added development and maintenance costs.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States spends an estimated $34.8 billion per year to maintain, operate, and upgrade its nuclear weapons arsenal. Estimates from Nuclear Threat Initiative suggest the figures may be a little lower, but still costing the US up to $25 billion per year. To put that in perspective, an investment into food products at that level would provide up to 75 billion meals for those living in poverty.
2. Detonation has a major ethical impact.
Only two cities have ever been directly affected by nuclear weapons in history. Both were in Japan: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just two bombs caused the death of over 129,000 people, with many of them being civilians. Acute effects from the bombs may have contributed to the deaths of over 250,000 additional people in the following decades. Even if military complexes are struck with a nuclear weapon, there will be civilian casualties.
3. There are environmental concerns which must be considered with a detonation.
Since 1945, the testing of nuclear weapons has caused more than 2,100 detonations that have happened around the globe. Some have occurred underwater, while others have occurred underground. Every detonation creates radiation that, if someone were exposed to it, could create grave consequences. The threat of multiple simultaneous nuclear detonations could create a prolonged winter that would ravage the planet and potentially cause all life to cease.
4. It provides a major terror threat.
The size of a nuclear weapon is relatively small. With terrorism on the rise around the world, the threat of a “dirty bomb” cannot be ignored. A terrorist group with a nuclear weapon could cause immense and immediate damage that could change the path of an entire society. The Patriot Act of 2001 was in response to airplanes being flown into buildings. Imagine would the aftermath of a nuclear explosion could be.
5. Waste from the development of nuclear weapons must be stored somewhere.
The challenges of storing nuclear waste are evident at the Hanford Site in Washington State. It was the location of the world’s first plutonium production reactor. Up to 9 nuclear reactors and 5 plutonium processors were operating at once, creating 60,000 weapons for the US nuclear arsenal. Now the radioactive waste is stored in 177 storage tanks. Breaches and leaks are still a very real threat, despite the lack of production that occurs there today.
6. It is a non-renewable resource.
Nuclear fuels are plutonium and uranium, which are radioactive metals. This means it is a resource that is non-renewable. Even if the all the nuclear energy from weapons was transitioned into usable energy that wouldn’t produce carbon dioxide, any accident could create a threat to human health that could potentially last for thousands of years. In many ways, nuclear technologies are much like fossil fuels, but with a different threat to the environment.
7. A nuclear weapon can fail because of a degraded delivery system.
Even if the nuclear weapon is viable, the delivery system for the weapon may not be viable. Many nuclear weapons are being maintained with delivery systems that have not been modernized. In the US, the current stock of ICBM nuclear weapons is expected to remain in service until 2032. Submarine-based nuclear weapons are expected to remain in service until 2042. Unless delivery systems are upgraded and maintained in the same way as their weapon counterparts, they may not be an effective deterrent.
8. They require a skilled workforce to operate.
Although nuclear weapons can be operated from a distance, a skilled workforce is required to make them a useful tool. Scientists, engineers, and operators are critical to the viability of any nuclear weapon. Without a skilled workforce in support, the safety and security of the nuclear weapons becomes doubtful and that doubt can be enough to make the weapons less of a deterrent.
9. Testing must require a detonation at some point.
Computer simulations can show the effects of a nuclear weapon and what an expected fallout happens to be. To determine if the technology is viable, however, an actual detonation must take place. Since July 1945, the United States has fired over 1,100 nuclear weapon as part of the testing process. No tests have been conducted, however, since September 1992.
The pros and cons of nuclear weapons show that they can serve as a deterrent and support “positive” technologies. There is just one question that continues to remain unanswered: what will happen if someone finally calls the bluff and attacks a nation with nuclear capabilities? It is the potential answer to that questions which should cause everyone to pause and consider the continued need for these weapons.
IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample 36 - The threat of nuclear weapons maintains the world peace
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IELTS Writing Task 2/ IELTS Essay:
You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
The threat of nuclear weapons maintains the world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy. The benefits of nuclear technology far out-weight the disadvantages.
Do you agree or disagree?
You should write at least 250 words
Use your own knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.
Sample Essay 1:
Some countries are developing their nuclear weapons these days, and it becomes a serious threat to the world peace. But it is undeniable that nuclear technology is clean for the environment and offers low-cost energy source. Therefore a lot of people believe that nuclear technology has more positive sides than its negatives. I personally disagree with the statement and the following essay will discuss in details about it.
To begin with, even though nuclear power could be used as an alternative source of energy, but some parties could misuse the technology. Nuclear power plants can be used as propaganda by some countries, whereas they will tell the public that they only use the technology for power generation purposes. But, the public would never know what lies behind their plants, as they might be developing an advanced and sophisticated nuclear weapons.
And then, although nuclear power plants are safe to the environment and cheaper in cost, many people still believe that they are a serious threat to the surrounding areas. Some countries have tried to manage their nuclear power plants cautiously, but sometimes unexpected events happen and cause a serious effect on the surrounding areas. For example, it is undeniable that Japan is well known for its advanced, effective and modern nuclear technology. But in the year 2010, a tsunami had struck one of the country’s power plants, and as a consequence, it caused a leakage in the plants and many casualties were found.
I believe that that weapon of much destruction is always a threat to the world and it is hard to believe that a weapon can maintain world peace. The history tells us how the weapons have destroyed millions of lives and have caused severe damage to our environment.
In conclusion, although nuclear technology could be used as a clean and cheap source of energy, I strongly disagree with it. Even though strict monitoring is made sure for those nuclear plant and research centres, some countries might secretly use it as a weapon. And then, no matter how well the power plants are built, they could still be a threat for our civilisations, as we could never predict that any natural disaster could hit these power plants anytime.
[ Written by - Darwin Lesmana ]
Model Answer 2:
Nuclear power is an innovation of the modern science. It is the key source of nuclear weapons. Nuclear technology can be used for our benefits as the natural resources are limited and being exhausted every second. It can be the most efficient alternative to fuel, electricity, and other types of energy. But yet nuclear weapons are a threat to our existence and single misuse of this giant power can destroy our civilisation.
Many of the first world countries have achieved the nuclear power and have become a superpower. It can initially seem that mono-polarization of nuclear power preserves world peace but the idea is not agreeable always. The present world is not in a position where powerful countries will shout at weaker and the peace will prevail. The reality is we notice lots of suicide bombing attack and the hatred; the wrath of the people is so acute that they won't even think about the existence of our civilisation. To maintain peace there must be a peaceful way. Anger, Power threat and domination can't keep the peace in the worlds. So I disagree with the statement that nuclear weapon can maintain the world peace and far-weight the disadvantages but I do agree with the idea that nuclear power can be a great source of cheap energy.
It is very much true that nuclear power is an alternative and perhaps the most efficient source of energy during these days of the energy crisis. Unlike other natural resources such as petroleum or gas , it is highly effective for industrial, transportation and other purposes and it is pollution free. As it is limitless, there is no question of its being used up like other natural resources like natural gas. Moreover, to control the over-increasing environmental pollution we have to use this technology in every applicable field. One day we all will be bound to use nuclear power to continue our life when there won't be any natural gas, fuels at all.
However, this power is not available to all walks of life. Even it is absent in many countries who are searching for an alternative energy source. Only a few countries can produce it and unfortunately they are very strict to conceal their technology. Without having easy-access, a source of energy can not be a good one. Besides nuclear power needs the utmost and very careful handling, in the case of any indulgence, or any misuse can cause a huge loss of life and property. For instance, Chernobyl Nuclear Plant hazard affected a huge loss of lives. The balance of ecosystem was completely disturbed and even now, after this long time, people are affected by the nuclear side-effects. This is one but not the only incidence of radioactivity and we must be cautious about what might happen in future.
In addition, nuclear power tends superpower to dominate others. It has become general that a superpower can easily attack a weak nation with any lame cause but negotiate with superpowers. But this is not going to be the common scenario always.
In conclusion, the nuclear power can be used for our benefit or even for destruction. This totally depends on the ideology, humanity and our well-thinking. So we must use it for our betterment, not for our destruction.
(This model answer has been prepared by the site developer. However, please note that this is just one example out of many possible answers.)
Model Answer 3:
Nuclear energy is a two sided sword. On the one hand, it provides sustainable clean energy, while on the other hand, it provides weapons of mass destruction. However, I believe the benefits of using nuclear energy far outweigh its disadvantages, and it is essential to the world peace.
Throughout human history, man has derived energy by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Excavation and burning of fossil fuels on a large scale for factories and automobiles have disturbed the ecological balance of nature and is leading to pollution and global warming. In contrast, nuclear power provides a clean source of energy as it does not release any harmful gases into the atmosphere. Energy generated using nuclear power is even cheaper than that generated by burning fossil fuels. The radioactive waste products of nuclear energy can be kept in specially created containers so that they do not disturb the environment.
Opponents of nuclear energy always cite the risks of a nuclear war by the development of nuclear weapons. However, it is interesting to note that till today there has not been a single major war between states possessing nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia were rivals during the cold war. However, they never went to a war as doing so would mean destruction on a large scale on both sides. India and Pakistan fought three major wars since their independence. However, after possessing nuclear weapons, there has not been a single major war between them. Possession of nuclear weapons acts as a deterrent to war, as a war between two nuclear weapons state would lead to catastrophe on both sides. The only use of nuclear weapons the world has seen is on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States during World War 2. Both the cities were levelled with tens of thousands of people killed instantly and more than thousands later by the radiation poisoning. Mankind cannot afford such devastation.
In light of the above arguments, I believe the benefits of using nuclear energy far outweigh its disadvantages, and it is essential to the world peace.
(by Pankaj Kohli)
Model Answer 4:The use of nuclear power has been one of the most controversial issues over many years. Although there seem to be clear benefits of this power, its drawbacks can never be underestimated. I, however, strongly agree that the pros of this technology are much more than its cons which will be discussed in this essay.
Those who are against nuclear weapons present their arguments on the base of the threat it presents to the world. These powerful weapons, if goes into destructive hands, would be devastating enough to wipe off an entire city in minutes. The two cities of Japan namely Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroyed during the Second World War can be taken as examples. Furthermore, natural disasters like earthquakes and Tsunamis might, at any time, collapse the nuclear power plants. This will not only kill thousands of people by their radio hazards but also might leave negative impacts on the future generations.
Nevertheless, the merits that nuclear weapons bring are crucial to the world. Firstly, it is the cheapest source of energy, a tremendous amount of energy can be produced to meet the demand of the growing population with very little resources. So, the use of organic fuels can be cut down. In addition to this, it is pollution free so the global warming and greenhouse effects might be reduced to some extent by replacing fossil fuels with it. The natural resources like fuels and oils would not last forever and then the nuclear power can be the best solution as a source of energy. It would be a cheaper form of energy as a single nuclear power plant can provide the energy required to run a whole city.
Therefore, I would like to conclude that in spite of some drawbacks of nuclear weapons and power, their advantages are enumerable. They should however, be used with safety and precautions.
(Approximately 258 words)
(by Sazna Koirala)