In this paper we explain some current environmental problems and how some people are looking for quick and temporary solutions without taking into consideration the environment. These solutions might be beneficial for the human existence in the present time or for a short period of time but the imminent destruction of the environment will be permanent due to the damage caused by the last generations, which are now seeing the consequences of the irresponsible way in which nature has been exploited.
Today there are more laws, organizations, and measures to minimize or deny a holding that will favor some nations for a short time but forever destroy the environment without thinking about the next generations. In addition, we explain how United States is dealing with nuclear waste, the biggest threat to the environment; even small amounts can be extremely dangerous for the humanity. Here we will see how the location of these plants could be threatened by underground geography, and natural distastes as earthquakes.
The arctic National Wildlife Refuge The arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of species of animals and plants that are exclusive to the area. This refuge was created to protect these species from human development and interests because of how fragile the ecosystem is in this area. “The organisms living here have adapted to their environment, but any additional stress has the potential to harm or even kill them. Thus, arctic organisms are particularly vulnerable to human activities” (Raven, P. , Berg, L. & Hassenzahl, D. , 2010). The primary energy source in the area is crude oil. It has been said that the area contains enough oil to supply our nation’s needs for approximately a decade, which would temporarily reduce the nations need for dependence on foreign oil. The oil reserves that have been found in Alaska are some of the largest reserves that have been found in our nation, which helps continue to fuel the discussion for drilling to begin. The other argument for drilling is the need to reduce dependency on foreign oil.
The economic impact that drilling these oil reserves would be huge, but it would be temporary. The money spent each year on foreign oil would be reduced and utilized for other needs of the nation, but once that oil is gone and used up the nation would be back in the same position it was currently facing. The stakeholders in this case are the animal and plant species native to the area, as well as the businessmen in the oil industry and the consumers. Advocates for conserving the area will stress for the need to keep the area untouched for the sake of the life forms there.
The businessmen and the consumer will continue to advocate for the drilling of this land as long as fuel prices remain high, and as long as the nation’s dependence on foreign oil remains so substantial. There are numerous solutions that can be found to the oil problem, but none of them are cheap. Technology exists today for vehicles and businesses to run on natural gas, solar power, and even bio-diesel. These technologies are safer on the environment as well as safer for the health of the consumer. Big business leaders resist these technologies because it will cut into the profits they already make off of the oil industry.
The Yucca Mountains The Yucca Mountains, which are located roughly 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas has been identified as a location to store nuclear waste by the US government (Raven, P. , Berg, L. , & Hassenzahl, D. , 2010). In 1954 the government made the decision to be responsible in the disposal of high level nuclear waste. The first of the actions taken by the US government involved storing nuclear waste in the salts beds near Carlsbad, New Mexico (Raven, P. , Berg, L. , & Hassenzahl, D. , 2010). At this time although the Yucca Mountains has been chosen as a location to store the waste, the actual disposal process has not yet started.
There is discussion and observations of nuclear power and its impact on the environment. Nuclear waste is a result of nuclear power releasing amounts of ionizing radiation in the atmosphere. Looking at the current economics the supply of nuclear power is guessed to last 100+ years leading to the planning of waste disposal as long as it is used. Experiments show that the waste level is lower than other energy sources but has extreme concerns of risk from catastrophic accident which include water pollution and long term health issues when exposed.
Take for example the Chernobyl Accident of 1986 where a plant explosion and fires released at up to 5% of the radioactive reactor core in to the atmosphere and downwind, (“Chernobyl Accident 1986”, 2012). As a result of the accident there were fatalities and injuries and now showing cases of illness due to exposure. With the governments interest in taking responsibility in the disposal of nuclear waste using the Yucca Mountains has convinced them that the location is the right place. But before it can be executed there is more testing and experiments that are being conducted.
There is still much work to in order before execution of the disposal plan. The remote profile of the location makes for a good place. Billions of dollars have been spent by the government conducting feasibility of the area (Raven, P. , Berg, L. , & Hassenzahl, D. , 2010). There is a delay in the planning to use the mountains because there is an argument that regardless of the remoteness it is still near an area where earthquake and volcanic actions can still occur. Monitoring continues and the government over-see’s the expenses as part of their interest and responsibility to the environment.
As researchers continue explore the study of nuclear power and its waste the limited resources remain around this topic. Carlsbad had offered to dispose some of the waste but the Yucca remains to be a target. With Nevada’s best interest at hand the delay to deposit the waste may have been an indirect positive benefit right now. As an alternative strategy the as Nevada and the government try to come to an agreement suggestions of alternatives should and must be discussed. Looking at a short term solution the nuclear waste maybe disposed in substitute locations.
Another strategy to act in assistance to the concern might be to limit nuclear waste until other arrangements can be put in place by the government and participating businesses. The Three Gorge Dam The Three Gorge Dam, located on the Yangtze River (is the third largest river in the world) in China, is the world’s largest hydropower project. The dam supplies water to the hydroelectric plant. Advantages of the dam include helping control the downstream flooding and waterway navigation purposes.
River navigation is the only means of long-distance, cost-effective transportation of freight. (“Three Gorges Dam”, n. d. ). The Three Gorge Dam project has a great abundance of water currently available but the environmental impact is great. Environmental impact includes soil erosions, industrial water pollutants, loss of ecosystems, endangering species (biodiversity), disruption of local species habitat (fish migration) and siltation. (Min, n. d. ). Hundreds of factories, mines, and waste dumps were submerged creating industrial pollutants in the reservoir.
Erosion from the downstream riverbanks causes landslides and changing ecosystems. Pristine and biologically diverse river basins are being used for the construction of hydropower. Another environmental concern is the actual weight of the reservoirs water increasing seismicity. Economical and ethical issues include the project funding, the relocation of more than 1. 2 million people (to more inland urban cities), agricultural shifts, and the flooding of numerous cities, villages, and towns. (“Three Gorges Dam, China”, 2009).
Vital farmlands would be submerged (along with million dollar metal mines) and the lack of replenishing land will affect the countries agriculture prices. Additionally the reservoir would trap over 75% of the sedimentation (“natural fertilizer” for the downstream Delta). Relocating over one million people is an incredibly difficult task. The Chinese government is solely interested in this project to produce more efficient power for the country (generating 84 billion kilowatt/hour (kW/h) of hydroelectric power each year). That is equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants or large coal power plants.
Given the severe air quality problems facing China and its current reliance on imported energy, this is a great advantage. Possible strategies for creating alternative energy sources are limited. Solar energy is a great way, but China does not have much ground space for solar systems. Conservation is weighed on both sides of the argument. To preserve the existing land, ecosystems, and waterways would be the best choice in conservation. But, hydroelectric power is cheaper than fossil fuel power. And since the dam in already in place, it is time to conserve for future species and their offspring.
Ongoing studies of critically endangered species should be of primary concern. Also, conserving the rest of Chinas agricultural land is important, since a percentage was lost creating the dam. Conclusion Even though many countries around the word are looking for new sustainable energy solutions, trying very hard to minimize the impact on the environment, the leading energy companies are still not willing to make the necessary investments. These companies should receive the proper incentive and political support to start investing in our energy future.
In the last few years the “go green” culture is getting stronger and is attracting more followers every single day. There are government programs incenting the purchase of energy efficient cars, home electronics or green homes. Only a hand full of countries are willing to see this problem as a priority and it will take more time and damage to the environment until the entire world will come to the same realization. Hopefully, in the near future clean and sustainable energy will be the norm and the damage to the environment will be stopped or at list minimized.