The relationship of humans and fossil fuels can be viewed as a strong and binding one that can only end when another party ceases to exist. The humans have settled and have been depending heavily on fossil fuels, and unfortunately, fossil fuels do not seem to reciprocate the feeling. Fossil fuels, unlike humans, will cease to exist soon, and this departure is slowly but surely felt as gas prices are skyrocketing high in the oil market. Our dependence on fossil fuels is greatly evidenced by the technologies that we have developed that require the products of fossil fuels for them to operate.
The transportation, machinery, and appliances are just a couple of the technology that we have made to make our lives easier and to make communication available all through out the world; fossil fuels make their existence possible. However, the existence of these technologies was under the premise that their energy sources are unlimited. Regrettably, fossil fuels are not renewable sources of energy, and it is only a matter of time before we feel the real consequence of their limits.
Hence, it is important that we get to find alternative sources of energy that are renewable and whose availability is unlimited, like solar power, geothermal energy, wind energy, hydropower, and biomass. Surviving on green energy or alternative energy sources is not only safe for the environment, but is also cheap and available for a very long time. Nonrenewable sources of energy are those sources that cannot be reused and can be depleted, such as fossil fuels and examples of this are oil, natural gas, and coal (Chapter 8: Fossil Fuels – Coal, Oil and Natural Gas).
They are called fossil fuels because according to research, they were formed from creatures like planktons, or diatoms whose bodies were preserved through heavy sedimentation with their energies intact (Chapter 8: Fossil Fuels – Coal, Oil and Natural Gas). The dependence of humans on fossil fuels can be seen on the American’s daily consumption of one of its forms, oil. Oil is a basic commodity for those who own cars, boats, planes, and any other mode of transportation, to those whose businesses depend on it as a raw material, among many others.
According to the Petroleum Basic Statistics website, the United States of America consumes an average of 20,680,000 barrels of oil everyday (Petroleum Basic Statistics). This shows how much dependent this country is to nonrenewable energy, and hence should soon find a different means for energy source before fossil fuels become depleted. The combination of the heavy consumption of oil, the soaring prices of oil in the world market, and the limited sources of this commodity prompted some prominent political figures to suggest the lifting of the ban on offshore drilling.
This is because they offer offshore drilling as an answer to the high prices and the limited sources of fossil fuels. However, offshore drilling poses a lot of threat not only to the environment, but also to the current monetary condition of the country. First of all, offshore drilling is harmful to the environment on a number of reasonable accounts. The creation of oil rigs in the ocean will entail excavating the earth and in the process will disturb the natural habitat of the sea creatures because of the erosion, kelp bed, coastal, and reef damage (The Case against Offshore Oil).
The technology being used in detecting oil deposits is a seismic tester that releases sound waves with 260 decibel levels, enough to cause brain hemorrhaging, disorientation, and beaching in dolphins and whales (Offshore Drilling – It’s NOT the Answer to High Gas Prices at the Pump). Oil isn’t the only element that is released in the process, mercury, lead, and other radioactive material are also released (Offshore Drilling – It’s NOT the Answer to High Gas Prices at the Pump).
The threat of oil spills in these oil rigs is also perilous to the wellbeing of the sea creatures for it can cause reproductive troubles (The Case against Offshore Oil). If truth be told, if oil spills do occur, which is always possible, the event have the most terrible, destructive effect on the environment. When gobbled up by animals, oil can cause death and other severe physiologic effects (The Effects of Oil on Wildlife). The environmental havoc does not stop there. The pollution that the machines contribute to the environment during their operation is also significantly dangerous.
However, in spite of all of the qualms made by the environmentalists, the government would not give in. This is also why there have been independent people who have started their own endeavors in the area of researching about decreasing energy consumption and creating and using alternative sources of energy. Energy conservation is an available option to all people who would want to help in the campaign towards decreasing the imminent depletion of fossil fuels. Various suggestions are shared by environmentalists on the internet pertaining to cutting back energy consumption.
People are told to purchase technology that are more environment friendly, walk instead of drive, or simply turning off appliances that are not in use. Remodeling houses with glass walls to let the sunlight in during the day is a great way to decrease light consumption. However, these tips cannot account for the long term problem. Even if we are able to slow down the forthcoming depletion of nonrenewable energy sources, it would still be a futile attempt to give energy to the next generations to come. Assortments of solutions are being put forward by scientists and environmentalists today.
One suggested idea that could be plausible as an answer to the energy crisis is to tap into renewable energy sources or alternative energy sources (Offshore Drilling – It’s NOT the Answer to High Gas Prices at the Pump). Geothermal energy, wind energy, solar energy, Biomass and hydropower are the five most developed renewable energy sources that are available (Renewable Energy). Heat released from the earth is being utilized as geothermal energy by direct use, geothermal heat pumps and electricity (Geothermal Energy). Basically, geothermal energy is the heat that is being released from the hot springs, geysers, among many others.
The nice thing about the usage of geothermal energy as a renewable energy source is that it little impact on the environment pollution-wise and because most of the geysers have been turned into parks, they are protected by the constitution (Geothermal Energy — Energy from the Earth’s Core). The only disadvantage geothermal energy has is that it only emits little, so it can only supply at a limited amount each time (Geothermal Energy — Energy from the Earth’s Core). From heat being released by the earth, the next green energy available for use is wind power.
Wind is everywhere; it never runs out, it is the oldest energy source of all as evidenced by the popular windmills being used a hundred years ago. We can see a lot of windmills and wind turbines across the country, and there are even wind farms being put up because of the great energy contribution wind is capable of (Chapter 16: Wind Energy). With great advantage to us, wind power is already used in lighting homes in California. On the other hand, a disadvantage of using wind power is its known disturbance in the migratory patterns of birds (Wind Energy — Energy from Moving Air). It could affect their directions and their natural habitats.
But nevertheless, wind power is pretty much useful. From wind we go to another object found in the sky, the sun. Solar energy is energy produced by the sun, and can be transformed into usable energy by way of solar cells and solar power plants (Solar Energy — Energy from the Sun). The only problem with solar energy is also the only reason it gives us energy, the sun. Since the sun is not consistently shining above us, hence nighttime, we cannot maximize its use for the whole day. Plus, weather changes occur every now and then, which can also alter the effect of solar energy throughout its use (Solar Energy — Energy from the Sun).
Other than weather disturbances that are naturally occurring, solar energy does not interfere with the environment in any possible way. From the shining sunlight we proceed to natural, physiological waste, Biomass. Biomass is mostly made up of biological material derived from living or recently living organisms (What is BIOMASS? ). Virgin wood, food waste, energy crops, industrial waste, and agricultural residues are the raw materials being used for producing Biomass (What is BIOMASS? ). This is also an excellent green energy alternative source because the raw materials needed to produce this energy can be found anywhere and everywhere.
It utilizes waste products, hence, less trash and pollution. Its use can lower down carbon dioxide emissions, provide 15% of the demands of electricity in 2020 in industrialized countries, and can give 400,000 jobs (Biomass Energy). And like any other source of energy, Biomass has its own disadvantage. Utilizing Biomass entails the allocation of land for its production centers. And if this means more plantation of Biomass for its usage, more land will be used up instead of allocating this land for food production (Global Limits of Biomass Energy). Last but certainly not the least is hydropower or water energy.
Hydropower seizes the energy of falling water and transforms it into electricity (How Hydropower Works). However, conditions have to be met for this energy transformation to take place. The height of the waterfalls and the quantity of water that is falling is to be taken into account (How Hydropower Works). The water falls should be high enough and it should be releasing a certain amount of water for it to produce enough energy (How Hydropower Works). It seems that of all the five green energy sources, hydropower is the only one that does not offer a disadvantage, which is why it is mostly utilized today.
Fortunately, most waterfalls around the world are so named, because of their height and the amount of water that falls, so there can be no problem with that except of course in dessert countries. But it does not mean that hydropower should be the only one that can be invested in. Right now, as this is being read, there are numerous scientists and environmentalists who are keeping their hands full with research and experimentation on how to find renewable energy sources. They are the ones that we should idolize and look up to, because these people do not want just a quick fix to a lifelong problem, they want change.
And we all know that change is inevitable and that we should always be ready for it when it comes. Our lives have been dependent on technology, mankind’s answer to making life easier and faster, maximizing time on earth to its full potential. Our dependence on it is making our environment suffer. Maybe it is not yet too late to make the change and go green, go environmental. It doesn’t really mean requiring oneself to go caveman and abandon the city and retreat to the forests. It just means that even in our own little way we can contribute to the solution, instead of contributing to the problem.
We all know it’s a jungle out there, and some of us are not equipped to embrace change especially once fossil fuels really run dry. Maybe, as early as now, we should embrace these changes and practice our energy saving methods, and soon enough, we can all survive on green energy. Works Cited: BIOMASS, “What is BIOMASS? ” Biomass Energy Centre. 2008. UK Forestry Commission. 9 December 2008 <http://www. biomassenergycentre. org. uk/portal/page? _pageid=76,15049&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL>. California Energy Commission, “Chapter 16: Wind Energy. ” Energy Story. California Energy Commission.
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