The Immediate Need to Implement Clean Renewable Energy Sources sample essay
In the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, we have a “planetary emergency” at our hands (Gore). For the last 30 years, earth has steadily been exposed to harmful greenhouse gases resulting in continuous degradation to our environment. The World Watch Institute has reported the earth’s ice layer is melting at its fastest rate ever (Mayhew, 62+). Fuel-based power plants, population increase and deforestation are the primary factors why our planet is dying.
The main sources of energy we use to provide us with electricity are still fossil fuels. Coal and oil might be ample in supply but their smoke emissions are the primary sources of greenhouse gases which deplete our ozone layer. Our population has continued to increase in number and it goes without saying that energy consumption will increase in direct proportion. Basic science and biology has taught us that plants absorb carbon dioxide. Why we continue to deplete our forests that help dissolve the smoke emissions of diesel power plants borders on insanity.
Time and again, people like Al Gore have reminded us that we are accelerating our own doom from continued use of environmentally harmful sources of energy. Much has been said about global warming that people tend to forget that our planet has also experienced acid rains due the various environmental poisons we introduced 20 years ago (Ellis, 17). Yet people still go about their normal ways, refusing to take immediate action to such a global event with catastrophic consequences.
Our passive reaction is always “As long as it doesn’t affect my daily way of life, I wouldn’t bother”. Well look at where such dismissive attitudes have brought us now? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has come to the conclusion that the entire world would have to cut greenhouse emissions to as much as 80% just to slow down its effects on the environment (). Such a change would lead us to developing alternative sources of energy, ones that are clean and renewable for sustainable and lasting use.
Sun and wind energy
Although there are various sources of renewable energy: biomass, water, wind and solar energy, we need to focus our attention on the last two. Biomass, which is composed of plant matter and animal wastes still produce some amount of greenhouse emissions when burned for energy. Hydroelectric power plants sometimes destroy aquatic habitats. If we are to make drastic changes to our sources of energy, it might as well be the right ones with little or no compromises.
Wind and solar energy are the cleanest sources we have. It has always been there from the moment we rise up till we retire for the night. We might as well use it to our full benefit. At 25% growth rate per year, wind energy is the fastest rising source of renewable energy (Mayhew, 62+). Wind farms can be built in areas with abundance of blowing air like mountains and shore lines. Solar energy technology has always been available since the conception of solar panels and solar cells. Calculators for example have benefited from the miniature solar panels that help reduce the reliance on batteries.
Cost is the main obstacle
Coal and fossil fuel technology have long been accepted as the norm. The cost in developing wind farms and solar panels while we already have energy sources does not make good business sense. Even the predicted yearly reduction of up to 8% in the cost of solar cells for the next 20 years still have not attracted businessmen to convert to renewable energy (Mayhew, 62+). Perhaps it is time for these businessmen and money makers to crunch the numbers and calculate the cost of buying a new planet. We hold the key to our own extinction by continuing to use our current energy sources. Although undeserved, humanity still has a chance to change its fate. By funding improvements to renewable energy technology and implementing infrastructure for its applications, we may yet improve our situation.
China for example is ahead of the curve in investing in renewable energy sources. They use gadgets like solar water heaters to lessen their dependence on fossil fuels (Clay, 30+). As large as China is, efforts to reverse greenhouse effects cannot lie on one country. This isn’t about economics anymore, so we should just throw the expenses out the window. This time, the cheapest and the most commonly used sources of energy is no longer viable. This is now about survival. Costs can no longer be a consideration. Hundreds of billions of dollars are used for senseless wars that do nothing but destroy. How much are we willing to spend to save our planet?
There are already some areas which can provide us with the blueprints for successful implementation of renewable energy sources. The island of Tac in Chile was previously engulfed in darkness. Their government afforded them the resources to utilize their abundance of wind to power their remotely located island. Today, wind farms power their homes, schools and work areas with no harmful effects to the environment.
On another part of the world, Sri Lanka through credit unions, has sold more than 4,000 units of solar energy dependent homes (Clay, 30+). This will allow them to reduce and perhaps totally remove their dependence on fuel based power plants. The two countries are not among the most powerful, one can even argue that they belong to the lower echelons of economic stability, yet they realize the importance of using alternative energy to not only cater to their present needs but also answer the clamor for cleaner and renewable sources of power.
It starts with the United States
The United States is the most powerful nation in the world. Everybody follows America’s lead. If there is any chance to save the world, it is imperative that the shift to renewable energy starts with them. In the words of French ruler, Jacques Chirac, “It is in the Americans, in the first place, that we place our hopes of effectively limiting greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale” (Mayhew, 62+). For all its power and greatness, America is also the largest contributor of environmental degradation.
It is responsible for 25% of the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions (Mayhew, 62+). America must lead the cleanup of the mess it helped create. There is now a need to implement clean and renewable energy sources to reverse the years of abuse our world has endured. The task is daunting, but with government policies and strategies to force Americans to shift to solar and wind energy, there is a chance for every one else to follow. Perhaps this is the opportunity for America to shed its war mongering image and become the nation that saved the entire planet. Wouldn’t that be a more pleasant legacy to leave behind?
Clay, Rebecca. “Renewable Energy: Empowering the Developing World.” Environmental Health
Perspectives 110(2002): 30+.
Ellis, Jane. “Why Promote Renewable Energy?” OECD Observer a.(1996): 17.
Gore, Al. “An Inconvenient Truth.” 31 May 2006. National Public Radio. 6 Dec 2007
Mayhew, Michael. “Appetite for Destruction: Renewable Energy Sources Can Help America-
And the Rest of the World-Reduce Environmental Impacts While Improving Quality of Life.” Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy 16(2001): 62+.
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