Whether we are lighting our houses, washing our clothes, refrigerating our food or running our computers, energy is an essential of modern life. We use it in most of the things we do. It creates comfort and convenience; helps keep us entertained and healthy. Without it our civilization would collapse.
Yet there is also a heavy price. Traditional methods of power generation have created a legacy of acid rain, oil spills and - despite billions of pounds of research - nuclear waste, issues all of which need to be tackled. That price never appears on the quarterly bill. Renewable energy comes from sources that will remain sustainable long after fossil fuels become scarce. Photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity, wind turbines that exploit Britain's climate, hydro-power which captures energy from falling water, and wave power which captures energy from the sea are some of the main sources. The potential for the effective use of renewable sources of the main sources. The potential for the effective use of renewable sources of energy in this country is huge, but its implementation is poor.
What is the cost of using non-renewable sources? Most serious of all is the contribution to climate change. We have been steadily pumping carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide creates a blanket round the earth. Heat which would normally disappear into space cannot escape, and is reflected back to be soaked up by the oceans. The world gets hotter. This is the Greenhouse Effect. Is it a coincidence that 10 of the 11 hottest years on record have occurred since 1980, with 1998 the hottest year ever recorded?
Europe has seen the average temperature increase by 0.8C this century, and the World Health Organization warned in June that global warming could result in mosquitoes spreading malaria and encephalitis through Britain and the northern hemisphere. Exceptional weather n New York City created perfect breeding...
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