Energy and the Environment

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Question: Energy is the main culprit of environmental degradation.

Energy usage is undeniably a major contributor of environmental degradation, as large quantities of carbon dioxide and other waste products are emitted that ultimately causes a multitude of environmental problems, especially global warming. Energy and the environment are inextricably linked due to a carbon dynamics, where energy usage results in carbon dioxide emissions which accumulate in the atmosphere (Appendix A). Over time, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases increase which eventually become a major source of climate change such as rising temperature. Effects of energy usage on the environment are widespread: continual increase in carbon dioxide concentration in future is accompanied with unprecedented rise in global average temperature and sea level (Appendix B). This will likely cause disruption to agriculture and ecosystem, such as accelerated melting of glaciers and flooding of low-lying countries (Boyle, 2004). Moreover, excessive consumption of energy in industrialized countries account for about 70 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions for the past 50 years which also disrupts the stability of ecological processes worldwide (Centeno, 2009). This phenomenon is likely to continue as energy usage is accelerated by expansion of heavy industries and urbanization that require massive energy inputs (Kahn & Yardley, 2007). On a brighter note, effects of energy use on the environment can be minimized by switching to alternative energy sources that are either renewable or more environmentally-friendly. A low-carbon economy can help to prevent anthropogenic greenhouse effect and may also encourage economic growth (Trenberth, 2012). However, costs of renewable resources are still substantially higher than conventional fuels, making it unattractive to be seen as a practical alternative of energy source (Boyle, 2004). For instance, the cost of harnessing solar power is significantly...
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