Renew the Energy Crisis: the Bright Future of Renewable Sources

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Mary Ma
Professor Hallsted
English 1A
September 20, 2010
Renew the Energy Crisis: The Bright Future of Renewable Sources The growing energy crisis has drawn the whole world’s attention. Voices coming from various roles in society have offered speakers’ worries, warnings, and solutions. Among them, Richard Heinberg, a leading educator on peak oil, is regarded as the world’s most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. In his book, The Party’s Over, Richard Heinberg emphasizes the emergent condition that energy resources will be run out. He also addresses essential questions about practical solutions to the energy crisis. Heinberg mentions “a more strident voice issues from environmental activists”(Heinberg 4). Those people advocate exploring renewable sources to dealing with the increasing greenhouse effect and environmental pollution. This solution, also supported by Heinberg, should be considered as one of the most efficient and realistic methods of resolving the global problem. The problem that environmental activists are focusing on is vital enough to alarm humankind. One of the most important reasons is that getting our energy from coal, oil or gas will entail disadvantages. In the book, The Party’s Over by Richard Heinberg, the author introduces what environmental activists are worried about: “the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and about various forms of hydrocarbon-based pollution in air, water, and soil”(Heinberg 4). During the long development of human society, people ignore side effects caused by energy transitioning. Those side effects, including deforestation and air pollution, can cause unpredictable serious problems under the pressure of growing population densities. In Heinberg’s estimation, “As fossil fuels become scarce, it will become increasingly difficult to protect trees in old-grown forest preserves, and perhaps even those along the sides of city streets” (Heinberg 199). It shows that Heinberg agrees with the environmental activists on the issue that fossil fuels cause damage to the environment. This fact cannot be ignored. Worse, other environmental effects produced by oil and natural gas depletion may be beyond imagination. Climate change, which is not so noticeable to most people, is not obvious now, but may lead to tremendous problems in the future. Paul Roberts, who delivers keynote addresses to numerous organizations, including the World Economic Forum (Davos), the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); the Council on Foreign Relations, and the World Affairs Council, has addressed the following statement in his book The End of Oil: “Climate change is the latest and greatest confirmation that our great mastery of energy may be more accurately described as a series of accounting errors. Though cheap, plentiful fossil fuels have clearly been key to our industrial success and continued economic vitality, we are discovering that our rosy picture of energy as the Key to Prosperity has omitted a number of serious costs, from geopolitical instability and oil price volatility to, now, rising global temperatures due to centuries of carbon dioxide emissions.”(Roberts 71) Climate change will bring about two kinds of negative effect to the earth. The first one has been talked about in the above statement, temperature will increase in the next 2 decades, 0.2 deg. C (0.4 F) temperature rise per decade. Warming is likely to lie in the range 2-4.5 deg. C (3.6-8.1 F), with a most likely value of about 3 deg. C (5.4 F). Also, another one is that sea level will rise till the mid-points are about 0.3 meters (1 ft.) Since 1850 sea level has risen about 200 mm (9 in.), a little less than 2 mm/yr. More recently the rate appears to be 3.1 mm/yr, now measured by altimetry satellites. Destroying the environmental system is the central reason why environmental activists suggest using renewable sources. In the future,...
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