Energy Sustainability

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Energy Sustainability
Energy Sustainability
Electricity is the most important resource we use. Can you imagine a time in the future where you cannot turn on a switch to light your home, or turn on the gas to light your stove? Believe it or not if something is not done to create sustainable energy sources this will happen. The challenge we face is to create sustainable energy that is both environmentally friendly and cost effective. Coal, oil and natural gas is commonly referred to as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels were created from the fossilized remains of plants and animals that have been exposed to heat and pressure within the earth’s crust for millions of years. These non-renewable resources are quickly becoming depleted due to increasing industrial use, population growth and urban development. Scientist continue to argue about the amount of fossil fuels that remain but the most dire predictions show us running out of fossil fuels by 2025 (cite) and the conservative guess is 2050 (cite). Compared with non renewable energy sources, renewable energy sources have impressive long-term potential. Fossil fuels are not only limited but they also raise many environmental concerns. Our dependence on fossil fuels leads to serious air pollution and global warming. The mining for coal or drilling for oil destroys an untold number of ecosystems. However, renewable energy offers clean sources that are much friendlier to the environment. Another advantage for developing nations using renewable energy is to help local economic development. Regions that still require fossil fuels to provide electricity and heating may spend a great deal of money on imported fuels. Therefore, renewable energy shows a lot of potential for future energy supplies.

When fossil fuels disappear we will send ourselves back in time to a period before the industrial revolution. Without fossil fuels there will be no supermarkets, malls or jobs to go to everyday. Everyone will be fighting over the small portion of vacant undeveloped land to farm and raise animals for food. Running water will no longer come out of pipes and the sewer systems will cease to run. Larger cities will cease to be inhabitable due to disease and lack of available land for farming. Highways once heavy with traffic will be still with abandoned vehicles. Will it take the human species to reach this point before we suddenly realize why it was so important to save the planet? This very different life is inevitable unless we do something now. The power the sun continuously delivers to the earth dwarfs every other available power source. Though it is generally accepted that solar power might have the best potential in the future of energy supply, it is important to bear in mind that for some countries, this may call for high technology and expenditure which they cannot afford. Great efforts have been made to reduce the cost of solar thermal plants (Middleton, 2003), however, solar cells are still relatively expensive, and this results in limitation of wider use, especially in the developing world (Seitz, 2002). Solar energy has already shown its promise with a massive resource and few adverse environmental impacts (Aringhoff et al, 2005). The few arguments against solar power are over concern of inconsistent amounts of sunlight arriving at the earth. The unpredictable amount of sunlight makes the successful collection of energy a rather difficult process. The use of solar energy also has great dependence on location, time, and weather conditions. Solar energy has the largest potential in the desert regions of the world including the Middle East and the South Western portion of the United States. Harnessing the wind and using it to create energy is considered to have great potential as a renewable energy source. However, one crucial part of establishing a wind power system is high technology, which is now the main defect in the developing world. Even in some developed countries there...
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