Conserving Energy, Arguing to Inquire

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Lauren Smith
English 201
Professor Conaway
March 13, 2012
Arguing to Prevail: Conserving America’s Energy
With energy being a scarce resource, people across the world need to look at lifestyle changes to protect the environment for future generations. Anything from driving less to turning off a light in a room can help the cause. Conservation methods take thought, commitment, and changes to everyday lives to make a difference. In order to conserve energy, consumers need to be aware of their daily usage and find ways to cut the usage down. Conservation of energy includes using less gasoline, electricity, and non-renewable resources. It also involves finding and producing alternative energy, recycling and home improvements. Not all methods of energy conservation will negatively impact the daily routines of people. With a little consideration and dedication to reduce energy consumption, everyone can do their part.

In order to understand how to conserve energy, there needs to be a definition of what non-renewable resources are. According to Ingrid Kelley, author of Energy in America: a Tour of Our Fossil Fuel Culture and Beyond, coal, oil, and natural gas are called fossil fuels because they were formed from layers of carbon-based organic matter that had been plants and simple marine creatures many millions of years ago (Kelly 14). While they were buried under sediment, these organic layers were concentrated by time, pressure, and terrain into various carbon deposits containing significant amounts of energy, which ancient swamps and forests soaked up from the sun (Kelley 14). This means that the energy that we use today for fuel and power to provide electricity for our homes and offices is a dying source. Fossil fuels take millions of years to be reproduced, and the way America burns through them, it would be impossible for them to be a consistent source of energy. From looking at the way energy consumption is at this point and time it does not seem to add up.

The Fossil Fuel age dates back to the Industrial Revolution in England. The manufacturing of coal mining and exporting the raw material to other colonies and countries began as the source for the mass empire of energy production we see today (Kelley 16). The United States adapted this way of life and embraced the social and cultural potential created by these highly concentrated carbon fuels. The main benefit that Americans saw was the power coal and later oil had. It increased production and had more “muscle power” than any animal or human of its time (Kelley 16). As Kelley describes, Americans were glamourized by the power that fossil fuels held for the future. A new era had begun, but with this new era a price was to be paid.

Fossil fuels were a revolutionary discovery; the ability to power an engine of a car with a few gallons of gasoline was a marvel most never thought would be possible. The only problem with this was the gases emitted from the engine burning the fuel. The science behind global warming is preached to many people on a regular basis, however; how well is it understood? Certain gases absorb solar radiation that would otherwise be dispersed back into space. If more gases are in the atmosphere, then more energy is radiated back to earth. As well as, the higher percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the greater the amount of the sun’s energy that is trapped on earth (Inslee, Hendricks 6). Greenhouse gases are good, but like most things, only in moderation. Without them, planet earth would freeze over and be uninhabitable. Today, the gases that trap heat on our planet are nearly twice as “thick” as they were before we started cutting down our forests and burning oil and coal according to Jay Inslee and Bracken Hendricks book entitled, Apollo’s Fire. Inslee and Hendricks also describe other natural features that have changed since the increased usage of fossil fuels around the world. The mean temperature for earth has risen by...
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